Setting the tone for inclusion and diversity at City Year Philadelphia is Executive Director and Vice President, Darryl Bundrige and the Managing Director of Impact, Virgil Sheppard. Both men of color have a combined 35 years of experience in the non-profit and education fields. Each year, their team leads and inspires 40 staff and over 200 diverse (60% young adults of color, 49% Pell Grant eligible, 82% college graduates*), young-adult AmeriCorps Members on their mission to make a difference for the students of Philadelphia.
City Year AmeriCorps Members serve in 18 of Philadelphia’s highest need schools as tutors and mentors for the students who show early warning signs of dropping out. When working with racially and ethnically diverse students, parents, teachers, staff, and communities, diversity is not just a “feel-good” for the staff and Corps. It is critical to the work being successful.
Bundrige explains, "The students who City Year Philadelphia serves are predominantly students of color. Our youth need to see positive role models who both look like them and don’t look like them. Seeing and understanding how people of different backgrounds can come together to achieve common goals is a road map for how the next generation can help themselves, others, and society at large."
"Our youth need to see positive role models who both look like them and don’t look like them. Seeing and understanding how people of different backgrounds can come together to achieve common goals is a road map for how the next generation can help themselves, others, and society at large."
- Darryl Bundrige, Executive Director and Vice President, City Year Philadelphia
Sheppard explains how meeting diverse people with different perspectives helped him achieve growing up in West Philadelphia, “I was blessed to have parents that were loving, resilient, and tough. They started me on the right path, but neither of them graduated high school. They knew this could potentially deter me, so they encouraged me to also develop relationships outside of our existing network. The new mentors I met through sports and ministry guided me and saw things in me that I did not see in myself. I cannot emphasize how much this influenced me. This is why I have made it my life's mission to pay it forward."
Sheppard goes on to explain that being exposed to different mentors also “builds awareness about different careers and education choices and the steps that students need to take to enter into them. Diverse mentorship is an investment that opens up doors for young people.”
"[being exposed to different mentors] builds awareness about different careers and education choices and the steps that students need to take to enter into them. Diverse mentorship is an investment that opens up doors for young people.”
-Virgil Sheppard, Managing Director of Impact, City Year Philadelphia
The City Year AmeriCorps Members not only set an example for the students they serve, but they also leave their year of service changed by new people and perspectives.
Bundrige explains, “I don’t think our Corps Members can end their year without truly valuing diversity. To have them be a part of any future team and asking the right questions like ‘how can we be better, more understanding, informed and respectful?’ and ‘how do we share that in the workplace?’ will make any organization stronger.”
Bundrige also explains that encouraging diversity is not just checking off a list of different backgrounds represented. “Particularly challenging is to not only learn from people of different backgrounds but also people with opposing views to our own. Getting comfortable with being uncomfortable and learning from others in these spaces can be life changing and affirming both individually and organizationally.”
You can read more about Bundrige in his bio, here.