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SPRINGFIELD — The Healing Racism Institute of Pioneer Valley (HRIPV) has slots open for its February two-day in-person session on Wednesday, Feb. 23 and Thursday, Feb. 24. To register, visit www.healingracismpv.org/seminars. The two-day seminar is held from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. both days at STCC Technology Park in the Corridan Center Conference Room, 1 Federal St. in Springfield.

HRIPV also has openings for its five-part virtual series. For more information and to register, visit www.healingracismpv.org/seminars.

Scholarships are available to those with financial need. E-mail Vanessa Otero at [email protected] for more information.

The Healing Racism Institute of Pioneer Valley was formed in 2012; since then, more than 1,000 people from Western Mass. and throughout the Commonwealth have participated in its signature two-day Healing Racism program.

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — The Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts (CFWM) announced a grant of $150,000, spread over the next three years, to the Healing Racism Institute of Pioneer Valley (HRIPV). The grant represents a significant contribution to the initiative’s capital drive to raise $1 million in commitments now to support and build capacity for the organization over the next three years.

The multi-year, strategic grant is part of CFWM’s ongoing commitment to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion in workplaces and promote equitable growth in the region. The funding will support HRIPV’s capacity in engaging communities across the state of Massachusetts in its signature two-day training. HRIPV has been in existence since 2012, and more than 1,000 community members have participated in its programming.

Funds from the capital drive have also allowed HRIPV to develop a comprehensive online and virtual series of trainings and programming. The Healing Racism initiative will also be resuming in-person training sessions in July. Members of the community interested in participating can learn more and register online at www.healingracismpv.org.

The first $50,000 grant to HRIPV will occur in July 2021. According to the Community Foundation, the multi-year funding approach will guarantee revenue stability while HRIPV meets demands for its services and continues its capital-campaign efforts.

“As an alumna of HRIPV’s two-day anti-racism training, I know what a powerful experience it is,” said Katie Allan Zobel, president and CEO of the Community Foundation. “I have seen firsthand the transformation in the community that HRIPV has catalyzed. That is why the foundation is investing in them to help expand their capacity for the future. We recognize the critical role HRIPV can play in creating shared understanding, connecting diverse members of our community, and dismantling systems that perpetuate inequalities. I’m optimistic about our partnership with HRIPV and encourage others to join us to work together toward a more equitable region.”

This award will also help HRIPV build its internal infrastructure and capacity to help ensure its sustainability efforts.

“The Healing Racism Institute is a recognized leader in promoting anti-racism within the Pioneer Valley,” said Paul Murphy, chair of the CFWM board of trustees. “We welcome the opportunity to partner with HRIPV in the expansion of its transformative program. We’re delighted to grant this funding as part of our commitment to invest and foster racial equity in our communities.”

The Healing Racism Institute is led by Vanessa Otero, one of the co-founders of HRIPV and an original member of the board until assuming the position of interim director in 2020.

Added Frank Robinson, board chair of the Healing Racism Institute of Pioneer Valley, “we welcome and celebrate this crucial grant for the important work we are doing to create more equitable communities, and see the Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts as a critical partner in that work.”

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — The Healing Racism Institute of Pioneer Valley (HRIPV) announced it has received a $300,000 grant from the MassMutual Foundation, serving as lead gift for the launch of a $1 million, three-year capital fund drive for the institute.

The Healing Racism Institute of Pioneer Valley was formed in 2012; since then, more than 1,000 people from Western Mass. and throughout Massachusetts have participated in its signature, two-day Healing Racism program. HRIPV was formed as a result of the City2City of Pioneer Valley visit to Grand Rapids, Mich. in 2011, where area leaders discovered a similar model embedded in the Greater Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce.

With the announcement of the MassMutual Foundation grant, HRIPV has reached $450,000 in commitments over the next three years, with substantial contributions coming from the Beveridge Foundation and the Irene E. & George A. Davis Foundation. The campaign is designed to help the institute become self-sustaining as it works toward its stated goal of “building a racism-free Pioneer Valley.”

“I speak for the board and for the larger Healing Racism community in expressing our thanks to the MassMutual Foundation for their critical support of our work,” said Frank Robinson, board chair of the Healing Racism Institute of Pioneer Valley. “We often speak of the toxic nature of racism; our approach of healing and understanding is making a difference in the communities and organizations where we are engaged.”

Robinson added that “racism is overcome by changing hearts and recognizing our common humanity. We expect that this lead gift from the MassMutual Foundation, and their demonstrated commitment to help build stronger, more vibrant communities, will inspire others to contribute. This lead gift will help HRIPV to build the critical infrastructure necessary to move toward a racism-free region.”

HRIPV recently established itself as a standalone 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and has also expanded its board, reflecting the diversity of the region. The United Way of Pioneer Valley serves as fiscal agent for the institute.

In addition to HRIPV’s signature two-day training seminars, HRIPV offers half- and full-day board and staff training and cohort development whereby the institute provides tools and training, allowing organizations to continue the internal process of examining racism and its impact on organizations and the larger community. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, HRIPV has developed a completely online curriculum to sustain and grow its reach and impact.

Funding from the capital campaign will help the institute identify a permanent home, add critical staff, expand facilitator training, and provide scholarships for individuals unable to afford participation in the two-day signature session and related programming. Holyoke Community College has served as a critical partner by hosting most of the two-day trainings over the past eight years of operation.

“The institute’s focus on delivering specialized education as a means to help eradicate racism is truly one of its strengths and why it has been such an effective partner for organizations in our community,” said Dennis Duquette, president of the MassMutual Foundation. “We are proud to support the capital campaign as a means to help scale the great work and positive impact of HRIPV throughout Greater Springfield and the Pioneer Valley.”

HRIPV is led by Vanessa Otero, one of its co-founders and an original member of the board until assuming the position of interim director in 2020.

“We have arrived at a pivotal moment in our nation’s history — a moment in which more people than ever before are willing to acknowledge, confront, and challenge the systematic oppression of people of color,” Otero said. “Race prejudice and racism are corrosive to people and to communities and deny the fullness of opportunity to people of color. We can, however, accelerate systemic change and create a more just society by building successive cohorts of change agents equipped to understand and eliminate the root causes and other elements of racism that characterize so many of our institutions today.”

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — The board of directors of the Healing Racism Institute of Pioneer Valley (HRIPV) announced that former board member Vanessa Otero has been named interim director through the end of the year to support and move forward the work of the institute.

The institute also announced it has become a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. As part of that move, the HRIPV board has appointed Baystate Health executive and longtime social-justice advocate Frank Robinson as the organization’s first president.

Otero is among the co-founders of HRIPV that grew out of a City2City Pioneer Valley visit to Grand Rapids, Mich. in 2011, where a Healing Racism Institute was formed and housed at the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce. Grand Rapids has also established institutes in its community’s faith and higher-education sectors.

“This work began for me after a trip to Grand Rapids with other community leaders,” Otero said. “I remember stopping John Davis, another founder of the initiative, in the hallway to tell him I wanted to be part of his effort to address racism in our region. Since then, even when my participation waned, I believed in the importance of this work and the impact it has on participants.

“The pandemic provides a moment in time where I can be of help in anticipation of hiring a permanent director,” she added. “This is not a full-time position, but is as important as any work I have done for the greater good.”

Otero is currently director of Smith College’s Urban Education Initiative. She has deep roots in the community, serving on state and regional boards, including being appointed to the Governor’s Latino Advisory Commission. She is also the chair of the Springfield Water and Sewer Commission. Mostly recently, Otero was asked to join the Department of Public Health’s COVID-19 Health Equity Advisory Group, advising Commissioner Dr. Monica Bharel and DPH on health-equity issues related to and exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, and providing suggestions on solutions to be implemented at all levels.

Otero graduated from Smith College as an Ada Comstock Scholar. She has a master’s degree in public policy administration from UMass Amherst.

HRIPV’s transition to a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization is a result of the institute’s growth in size and scope in recent years, performing work that has engaged more than 800 individuals, more than 200 organizations, and nearly 20 sectors. The work has also expanded into the metro Boston area. The nonprofit organization status will help as the organization formalizes resource development and expands its offerings beyond its signature two-day Healing Racism seminar.

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