The National Coalition Building Institute is an international leadership organization that provides training in diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in community organizations, K-12 schools, college and university campuses, corporations and law enforcement.
The work of NCBI — its mission, its workshops and trainings, its network of resource teams, and its contribution to long-lasting institutional and social change — is guided by several core principles and key insights. These principles and insights provide a useful overview.
- Building hopeful Environments to Welcome Diversity. Many Diversity training programs rely on guilt to motive people to change their prejudicial attitudes. NCBI is innovative in our positive and warm approach to training. We recognize guilt is the glue that actually holds prejudice in place. NCBI has learned that people will take on tough issues more readily when the issues are presented in a spirit of hope.
- Healing Ourselves to Change the World. Our focus on supporting personal healing to reduce prejudicial attitudes, sets NCBI apart from many other training programs. NCBI believes leaders need time to identify and heal from the many ways they have been mistreated.
- Becoming effective allies. One-on one authentic relationship building across group lines is at the heart of effective diversity and inclusion work and the most powerful way to train allies to work together and bring about institutional change. NCBI leadership teams are always made up of people from diverse backgrounds to model authentic relationship building between diverse groups.
- Empowering Leaders to Lead! Learning new skills empowers leaders. Our work is based on the community organizing principle that to empower people to take on change, they must have opportunities to become leaders. Through our Train-the-Trainer programs NCBI trains people to lead diversity and inclusion workshops.
- Changing Hearts through stories. One of the skills that we teach is the power of stories! Research shows that people who express bias do not easily change their minds when provided more information, but they can shift rigid attitudes when they can hear personal stories of discrimination. A specific example: A few years ago NCBI was leading a training program in the Southwest of the U.S. In the training, several participants voiced their personal opinion that Gay and Lesbian people should not have the right to adopt children or have joint custody rights. An openly LGBT member of the training was visibly upset with these comments and she agreed to do a "speak out" with the group--to tell a time she had experienced discrimination and mistreatment based on her sexual orientation. Her story deeply moved the group. She had been involved in a painful court custody battle to try and maintain joint custody rights for her daughter following a bitter divorce. Her former husband and the judge overseeing her case both determined that she couldn't possibly be a fit mother because she was a Lesbian and was living with her partner. She wept as she told the group, "I lost my case. My husband received sole custody of our daughter and he was allowed to take her out of state with no forwarding address." She would never be able to see her daughter again. When she finished her story, we asked the group, "what touched you? What came up for you hearing this story? The principal of a large high school in the community spoke, "Earlier today, I was one of the people who said LGBT people should not have the right to adopt children or have joint custody rights. And as I listened to your story, all I could think about were the parents in my school who hit their children, don't show up at PTA meetings. And here I was, wanting to deny you the right to be involved in your daughter's life.” He was visibly shaken by her speak out and agreed to work towards a resolution in the city council protecting the rights of LGBT parents. We don't change people's minds. We change their hearts. And it is these kinds of personal stories that change hearts.
- Skills Training leads to Institutional Change. Another skill we teach is how to reply effectively to prejudicial jokes, remarks and slurs. NCBI’s research on college campuses demonstrates that success in taking small steps empowers people to take further steps on a larger scale. When people experience success in countering prejudicial comments, they can become more confident in addressing larger institutional issues of discrimination.
- Sustaining the work requires on-going support. NCBI has learned that two things are necessary to sustain on-going work. The first is to establish a core team of people who are committed to both the work and each other. The second is to make sure that the Leadership team receives ongoing support both from NCBI and their Institution. When people receive support from within their team, from NCBI, and from their Institution, the diversity training work can continue year after year!
- Leaders Deserve to be Treated Well. Leaders often experience isolation and a lack of support. NCBI trains leaders how to build support for their Leadership. Participants are taught to respect and appreciate leaders and their efforts. Well-supported leaders are more likely to be a source of sustained Leadership.
NCBI has received numerous other awards in recognition of its excellent diversity training programs –
- The Nelson Mandela Award for outstanding international work on fighting racism.
- The United States Department of Education cited NCBI’s work on college campuses as a national “best practice”, awarding it the rating of “excellent” regarding educational significance, quality, usefulness, and replicability.
- Citing the success of NCBI training programs at its offices in Wilmington, Delaware, DuPont Corporation designated NCBI’s work as a “Corporate Best Practice.”