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Equity Summit Four: Big citizenship

At City Year Milwaukee, AmeriCorps members and staff come together to participate in equity summits. An important part of our commitment to being an anti-racist organization is creating spaces that allow us to deeply learn about our own identities, how our actions foster belonging for others and think critically about the systems we operate within. For our site, Equity Summits are one of the ways we make this work a priority and participate in learning and unlearning alongside one another.

On January 28th, City Year Milwaukee AmeriCorps members and staff came together for our fourth, virtual Equity Summit of the year! While each Equity Summit this year has been critical to our work, this summit was particularly special because each session was corps led and focused on the concept of big citizenship.

What is big citizenship?

City Year’s mission is to build democracy through citizen service, civic leadership and social entrepreneurship. Each year, City Year AmeriCorps and staff members put big citizenship into practice. A, “Big Citizen,” is dedicated to strengthening our democracy every day, recognizing this extends beyond direct service and includes an array of ways to build a civic mindset. A strong democracy requires active citizens who have the civic values, skills and inspiration to serve as leaders for the common good.

Equity summit four re-cap:

Equity Summit Four was a part of our site’s Mid-year Summit Retreat, a time for AmeriCorps members and staff to build community with each other and get centered for the remainder of the year. The Equity Summit began with a centering session led by AmeriCorps members Jonathan and Alexa, who gave staff and AmeriCorps members the opportunity to center and focus on why equity summits are important. We then participated in a belonging activity to reflect on the intersectionality of our identities and asked ourselves . . .

  • What does belonging mean to you?
  • How does your identity affect your belonging?
  • What identities are most important to you?
  • How do you create a sense of belonging for yourself and your students?

This session set the tone for the day and prompted everyone to think more deeply about how identity and belonging are interconnected. This session prompted great discussions in affinity groups.

Affinity groups are formed by AmeriCorps members and staff and serve as places of support and solidarity for members of communities that have been, and are currently, marginalized. Affinity groups are spaces corps members and staff can discuss their experiences and create a community of empowerment.

AmeriCorps member-led learning sessions:

The rest of the summit included AmeriCorps member facilitated sessions on an array of topics including learning about adverse childhood experiences, and the impact they have on students, and a series of sessions that centered on inclusivity and identity, including sessions titled, “Intersection of race and LGBTQ+ identities,” and “Supporting students with gender identity.”

“Equity Summit four showed me what it meant to be a leader and showed me what teamwork is about. It inspired me to step up and potentially lead a session for the next one, which is a huge step for me growth wise. This equity summit showed me that learning can be enjoyable and informative at the same time. I want my students to know that City Year is their safe space and that the power of young people can be even greater than we think already.” -Neha, AmeriCorps member

We are incredibly grateful for all of the AmeriCorps members who led sessions during this summit, and we look forward to coming together as a site for our next summit in the spring.

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