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City Year Detroit: Equal Opportunity to Succeed

Every year our City Year Detroit staff chooses a focus area that we can come together and rally around to improve ourselves, our work, and our organization. Last year (Feb 2021) our staff chose the focus area “People from all backgrounds have equal opportunity to succeed.” As the Director of People and Operations, this fell directly into my wheelhouse and has been a primary focus of mine since.  

I loved the way the focus area was worded – it says, “to succeed.” What does that mean? Pay raises, promotions, meeting goals, feeling fulfilled, work/life balance, finding happiness? The answer is all the above. Then we started to ask ourselves, who does it apply to? The AmeriCorps members, students we serve, our staff, our talent pool, our alumni? Again, the answer was all the above. From there we laid out a multi-dimensional list of things to do or improve on to help support people from all backgrounds in succeeding at City Year.  

This list includes building diverse applicant pipelines, providing anti-bias trainings in recruitment and interviewing, career mapping, equipping corps and staff to have powerful conversations around diversity, building attainable goals, and refining our remote work and flex time practices to help our community be successful in their personal lives as well.  It was clear that we had a lot to do, and it couldn’t all happen overnight. But that’s why I love City Year and have been here for so long (started as an ACM in 2009 and worked my way up). We have a saying: “you’re not working at City Year; you are working on City Year.” My passion is in continuing to make our processes and practices as cutting-edge and as inclusive as I can.  

City Year has done a great job at providing hiring managers with resources around creating inclusive job requisitions and reducing bias in the hiring process. Over the years we’ve implemented more work assessments which are reviewed anonymously and factored into our selection rubrics. At City Year Detroit we’ve made it a practice to post our salary range for each position so applicants know if the position will meet their needs from the start and to avoid the unfair advantage given to some when it comes to salary negotiations. We recognize that marginalized folks (women in particular) tend to only apply to jobs when they meet every qualification whereas men tend to apply when they meet only 60% of the criteria – and we point this out in our job postings.  The work is great (in quantity and importance), but it is a joy to be always improving our practices.  

Once you have joined our organization, we will continue to help you be successful. While we love working with you, we also value the truth that you may want to grow and continue your career outside of City Year (and hopefully come back someday!) Our managers are trained to support you in figuring out your next steps and helping you find opportunities to practice the skills you will need to attain those goals. When opportunities for promotions are available, we post those positions internally so anyone who may be interested or have the skills needed to do the job can apply. In the past, we found that promotions were happening behind closed doors. We noticed that this habit fostered a culture of mistrust and perceived favoritism. We have found that posting our promotions for any internal candidate to apply helps us learn more about the roles folks might be interested in down the road, gives us an opportunity to consider the role change critically with a panel of interviewers, and then be confident in the decisions we make around giving folks elevated or different positions.  

These practices are so important. City Year is an organization primarily focused on supporting the ability of our “students to succeed”. We cannot effectively do this if we are not willing to support our staff and corps to do the same. As an organization in a position to help all people succeed, we must practice the values that we want our society to embody in order to become a more just and equitable community.   

Before you are here 

Hiring mangers are trained to minimize bias in selection and interview process 

Hiring managers are trained to create inclusive job descriptions 

We use assessments and score them anonymously to limit bias and focus on the skills of the applicant  

We’ve leaned into virtual interviews so folks don’t have to take time off of work or away from family to interview. We make sure to tell candidates that interruptions from interviewing from home are OK because above all else, we value family first.   

Salaries are posted on all CYD job descriptions 

We encourage all folks to apply if they think they have the stuff to do the work  

Every person has the same interview experience and we limit informational interviews to only occur outside of the interviewing window.  

While you are here 

We work with you to help you discover your next career move and support you in reaching that goal.  

We’ve implemented remote work and flex time practices to help you be successful in your personal life.  

We post all promotion opportunities and follow a job posting and interview process for making those decisions.  

We share external and internal job postings freely with our staff so they can be plugged in to opportunities as they arise. 


What is the ultimate goal, now that we have revamped our process in Detroit? 

My goal is for this to be the best place for people to work. I want them to be able to spend holidays and birthdays with their families. I want them to feel good about waking up and coming to work. I want them to be personally satisfied in the work they do so that we can achieve our mission of supporting the students we serve. We have a lot of work to do to build equity and the work is hard. I don’t want the processes to hold us back when they should empower us to be as impactful as possible.  I want people from all backgrounds to have equal opportunities to succeed at City Year.  

Interested in joining our team? Learn more about open career opportunities here.




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