At the beginning of each year, City Year designates one of these values to each month in our program calendar, which creates a theme for that month. March’s value/theme is ‘Inclusivity,’ and it’s one of the values that sticks with you long after a year of service.
The definition (Merriam-Websters) for ‘inclusive’ reads; “open to everyone: not limited to certain people.”
As an AmeriCorps member, however, making opportunities ‘open to everyone’ is just the first stepping stone. Now that an event or opportunity is open to all, how else do we incorporate inclusivity?
First, we start by redefining it. As has been talked about before, one of City Year’s foundational culture pieces is ‘Putting Idealism to Work’ (PITW).
PITW #92 encourages AmeriCorps members to be “as inclusive as possible,” adding that; “Inclusivity means taking diversity one step further by learning to tap everyone’s strengths to achieve goals that are larger than ourselves.”
Through their work in schools, AmeriCorps members often apply inclusivity in the schools that they work, among the faculty, administration, teachers, students, and with their teammates.
Take, for instance, the work of a corps member and an individual student – there are varying levels of inclusivity that must occur in order for a student to begin to see progress. In order to determine the students’ current academic standing and attendance, they need to include the teacher, and gather attendance information from the administrative office. To understand the student more, that corps member may need to include other faculty and coaches to get a better understanding of that students’ behavioral pattern and/or passions outside of the classroom. Most importantly, that corps member must include the student by applying all of the information they’ve gathered, and working with the student to develop goals, and benchmarks to reach them.
Once those goals have been established, that corps member will regularly check in with their teacher to begin tracking their student’s progress. As the year continues, corps members will also include a student’s parents/guardians to inform them of their progress, which allows for students to carry their success in school back home with them.
Inclusivity is a tool, and during this month we're reminded to be aware of the people around us, and how their experiences and background can help us just as much our own experiences can help others.