Cultural Inclusion Program

The Cultural Inclusion Program for Nonprofit Boards addresses the fact that over 80% of Lawrence is Latino; however the overwhelming majority of the city’s nonprofit board members are white with minimal ties to the city. Yet, there is a growing wave of young, savvy professionals of color who have a rich understanding of the community and possess the necessary skills and passion to assume leadership roles on our nonprofit boards.

The Program Goals are to recruit, train, place, and engage new board members who have the professional skills needed by boards and reflect the culture of the community.

Our program emphasizes that diversity is more than a checkbox. Therefore our board trainings include facilitated dialogue on creating board cultures that are welcoming and inclusive, so that all have a voice at the table.

The program received a Gateway Cities Innovation Award from Mass Inc.  in October 2020 highlighting "Strategies to Increase Diversity and Equity in Civic Leadership.”   

To date, the program has graduated 155 professionals of color, with 113 joining boards or committees
See what one of our Cultural Inclusion participants has to say about the Cultural Inclusion experience

See what other program participants have to say about their Cultural Inclusion experience here

Board placement involves a 3-phase process.

1. Preliminary Screening

"Professionals of color” (recruits)  must:

  • Live, work, or have roots in the community
  • Be fluent in English
  • Participate in a personal interview with Community InRoads staff
  • Commit to full participation in all trainings
  • Complete an application that will be reviewed by a Nominating Committee to be accepted into the program

Boards of participating nonprofits must:

  • Participate in a personal interview with Community InRoads
  • Commit to sending board representatives to all trainings
  • Be committed to explore new ways to create inclusive board environments
  • Permit recruits interested in learning about their Board to observe all or part of a Board meeting
  • Assign a mentor to each recruit they onboard from our program
  • After onboarding new recruits, participate in follow-up meetings with CIR to ensure the best possible experience for the new recruits and the nonprofit board.

2. Workshops on Board Governance and Inclusion
  • Workshops include: (1) Program kickoff (2) Facilitated dialogue on inclusion and leadership; (3) Board fundamentals, (4) The Board Walk, (5) Financial oversight, (6) Fundraising roles and strategies, (7) Legal oversight, (8) Calling in vs. Calling out, (9) Tips for creating inclusive boards,
  • All recruits and at least one board member from participating nonprofits are required to attend all sessions.
  • All sessions are delivered by subject matter experts.

3. Board Matches
  • The Board Walk provides a speed dating format where representatives from participating boards and the recruits formally meet and learn about one another.
  • After The Board Walk, Community InRoads meets individually with recruits to determine boards they would like to explore further. Following the meeting, we facilitate in-depth interviews between the recruit and the nonprofits of interest.
  • The ultimate match is mutually determined between the recruits and the nonprofits in order to meet the passions of the recruits and the needs of the nonprofits.
  • After a board match is made, recruits are assigned a "Board Peer" by the chair of their new board to help welcome and engage them.
  • Community Inroads monitors all board placements.

See the Boston Globe article about our Cultural Inclusion Program here

Participation in our Cultural Inclusion Program is by application only. Call 978-604-8803 or email [email protected] for more information.