Rotarians and First Responders Pursue Inclusive Excellence

Kandice RileyEducation, United Way Events

people attending a zoom meeting

Members of Rotary Club of Springfield, Springfield Police Department and Springfield Fire Department recently made a one-day investment to improve where the live, work and play. In total, 63 members of the community attended two sessions of the United Academy for Inclusion and Belonging held this fall.

“We want to build community ownership,” said Greg Burris, president and CEO of United Way of the Ozarks. “Rotarians, police officers and fire fighters are invested in our community. They want to be part of creating solutions that make our community better. By taking part in the United Academy, they are contributing to a stronger, more welcoming and inclusive community.”

Testing Their Understanding

Before the course, attendees rated their self-awareness of implicit bias and inclusive practices. They answered the same questions following the course.

Responses note that attendees’ “thoughts and behaviors regarding diversity and inclusion” have changed since attending the Academy.

word cloudWhat Attendees Had to Say

The vast majority of attendees noted they would recommend the United Academy to a friend or co-worker, stating:

“I thought the content was powerful.”

“This was a worthwhile course and I’m glad to have the opportunity to experience it.”

“It broadened my viewpoint on challenges those of different backgrounds may face. It also broadened my view of diversity, and how I can address challenges. This class revolutionized my concept of dignity, I hope to better utilize that in my everyday life.”

“Conversations on race and diversity are like playing with a loaded gun. It helped me immensely.”

“It helps to open one’s mind to the different ways that bias can be used unconsciously.”

About the Academy

This one-day course  is focused on helping the Springfield area become a more diverse and inclusive community. During 2021,  300 members of the business and civic community have attended the United Academy.

Administered by United Way of the Ozarks and led by Dr. Juan Meraz of Missouri State University’s Division for Diversity and Inclusion, the Academy is a constructive investment of resources that seeks to create culture-changing outcomes.

Cultivating Systemic Change

Academy participants learn the principles of social justice and gain the knowledge needed to begin fostering an inclusive environment. Course materials are customized for every class to ensure information is especially relevant to participants.

The fall session included lessons on the history of systemic racism in the United States, perspectives of racial and sexual minorities, diverse and inclusive terminology and a summary of implicit bias.

Future United Academy Sessions

Plans are underway to schedule a series of United Academy offerings in 2022. For more information, email Kimberley Lippelman-Nash 
director of administration, or call 417-863-7700 ext. 222.