Wean Foundation

Sharing Information about Racial Equality is Key for Wean Foundation

WARREN, Ohio — For Emily Moran, participating in a workshop focusing on race was an experience that allowed her to grow as a person.

“I just started a new position as Planner II with the Trumbull County Planning Commission and was offered the opportunity to take part in the workshop as part of my onboarding,” she said. “I felt that it was a great opportunity to learn more about the inequalities that others face and to become a more compassionate person both in my personal life and my work.”

Moran took part in the first session of the Racial Equity and Inclusion Workshop in April, which although virtual is still interactive. It’s a two-day event hosted by ThirdSpace Action Lab and presented by the Racial Equality Institute. A second session will take place on May 10 and 11.

For several years, the Raymond John Wean Foundation has been pursuing racial equality and inclusivity after Executive Director Jennifer Roller and Lori Weibe, former operations manager, attended a workshop at the encouragement of counterparts in Cleveland, said Tara Walker-Pollock, program officer.

Throughout the journey, the Wean Foundation has documented the process through awareness, learning and practice, she said.

“Awareness for us with this workshop begins with participating,” Walker-Pollock said.

The learning aspect kicks in when other opportunities to learn about racial equality and inclusivity (REI) take form, with the Wean Foundation working to pass information of those chances out into the community, Walker-Pollock said. Then, the Wean Foundation applies what the team learns.

“With this workshop, we’re interested in once you participate” the awareness and learning is implemented, Walker-Pollock said. “How has it sparked you to share it with others? What are you putting into the practice?”

Setting this workshop aside from others is the content, said Erika Parker, communications officer for the Wean Foundation. She also participated in the first session.

“Having taken it, it’s a lot of historical data,” Parker said. “It’s education-based training. I found that really interesting, especially the history.”

Moran agreed.

“The REI workshop helped me realize that many of the programs that we have put in place to help ‘fix’ inequalities are not actually solving the root/groundwater problem,” she said. Many programs assist individuals and relay they have served a large amount of people but “they never get to the root problem of why more and more people keep coming for help,” Moran said.

While she has taken part in other similar workshops, the one offered through the Wean Foundation is “by far the most eye-opening,” Moran said.

The Wean Foundation encourages the workshop participants to refrain from springing into action, Walker-Pollock said. Instead, people should “sit with the information” to process the data and conversations.

Every discipline in each sector is invited to join, Walker-Pollock said. Neighborhood resident leaders, nonprofit professionals and all the Wean Foundation staff have taken part, along with some Foundation family members. “There is a role for all of us to reach a more equitable Mahoning Valley.”

“We want people to be engaged and learn and have those conversations in their circle,” Parker added.

To sign up for the second session of the REI Workshop, visit weanfoundation.org/get-involved.

Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.