YMCA of Greater Houston announces Equity Innovation Center

The YMCA of Greater Houston is pleased to announce the opening of the region’s first Equity Innovation Center Powered by Reliant. The center will serve as a space for the Houston community to lead, organize, advocate and meaningfully connect with a shared focus. As the most diverse city in the country, Houston can be a shining example to others on what is possible as we create a more inclusive, equitable and stronger community.

“The YMCA of Greater Houston vows to stand with our brothers and sisters who are made to feel less safe by the many recent incidents – fighting for health equity in the face of the inequities being laid bare by the COVID-19 pandemic and unjust killings,” states Stephen Ives, President and CEO, YMCA of Greater Houston. “The Y will continue expanding and strengthening its commitment to combat racism, bias, prejudice and inequalities while fighting for justice. We are grateful Reliant is joining our efforts to implement lasting and meaningful change within our community and beyond. We know that when we work as one, we move people and communities forward.”

“At Reliant, we respect, recognize and celebrate that our differences shape us, and that diversity and inclusion make us stronger. We’re committed to powering change and supporting progress in the places where we live and work,” said Elizabeth Killinger, President, Reliant. “By powering the Equity Innovation Center, we hope to further strengthen Houston so we can harness our full potential and make lasting change for future generations.”

Goal of Equity Innovation Center

The YMCA of Greater Houston’s ultimate goal is to provide educational resources and activities so all participating individuals and groups walk away with a solid learning or unlearning, and a commitment to personal change and willingness to act. Likewise, the organization will help companies and organizations develop or enhance inclusive equity plans to better engage and support their employees and customers.

Phased Opening

The launch of YMCA’s Equity Innovation Center will be conducted in three phases, starting in August 2020 and coming to fruition by early 2021.

Phase One centers around the internal team’s equity work, which includes: contracting and consulting with experts in racial equality to process and address the YMCA of Greater Houston’s systemic racial inequities; online trainings available for all staff and board members to address bias, dimensions of diversity, cultural lenses and allyship; and a piloted Youth Changemakers cohort for young people who are ready to be on the frontlines of meaningful, inclusive and lasting change in their local community.

Phase Two will introduce virtual learning experiences and engagement within the community, which includes partnerships, equity engagement listening sessions and initial planning of the interactive learning lab at Tellepsen Family Downtown YMCA. Interactive virtual learning topics are centered on understanding diversity, bias, oppression, macroaggressions, cultural lenses and systemic change.

Phase Three will feature the opening of the interactive learning lab at Tellepsen Family Downtown YMCA, an in-person learning and transformative change experience for the community that includes partnerships with local and national experts in equity work. The center will serve as a hub for individuals and groups to gather, organize and connect directly with local and governmental leadership.

Reliant Partnership

The Equity Innovation Center is being powered by Reliant through a donation of $100,000, consisting of a $50,000 commitment for two years. Both Reliant and the YMCA of Greater Houston are looking internally and externally to strengthen and grow diversity, equity and inclusion efforts. This donation is part of Reliant and parent company NRG’s “Powering Change” initiative, which has committed $1 million toward organizations and initiatives that combat racial inequities, injustice and related violence.

Driven by the YMCA’s founding mission, the Y has served as a leading nonprofit committed to strengthening the community for more than 130 years. The Y continues to demonstrate commitment to communities through exceptional volunteer work, charitable giving and memberships. The organization is proud of its affiliation with many notable corporate partners, including Reliant. These relationships not only further the Y’s mission and unite us around a shared goal to make our community a better place for all, but they also extend the impact of these efforts – allowing for a synergy accomplished only through collaboration.

For more information about the YMCA of Greater Houston or ways to get involved, please visit www.ymcahouston.org, and follow the organization on Facebook @YMCAHouston and Instagram @YMCAHouston.