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Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Learning Collaborative

Homelessness exists in the United States in its present form in part due to the history of slavery, genocide, and segregation that continue to shape public policy and culture. Even the network of organizations meant to serve people experiencing homelessness, and ultimately to end it, operate in a larger society with systemic racism. If our own organizations are not explicitly anti-racist, we are likely to perpetuate the injustices that plague people of color who suffer from housing insecurity.

Last year the National Health Care for the Homeless Council convened nine organizations in its first-ever Learning Collaborative on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion so that we could share our challenges and identify what’s necessary to support organizations in advancing true diversity, equity, and inclusion and resist institutional racism within our organizations. It was one small step in the Council’s efforts to center racial equity in our work for the human rights to health care and housing, and we learned important lessons.

The Council will assemble a second cohort in November 2019 to deepen our learning and foster solidarity among those committed to equity in our organizations. Adapting our approach from lessons learned in the first Cohort, Cohort 2 will meet eight times via monthly videoconferences. Please learn more below and consider applying by Friday, October 11.


Eligible organizations must be Health Care for the Homeless health centers, medical respite programs, or others that primarily serve people experiencing homelessness. Learning Collaborative members must designate a minimum of two staff to participate in the meetings, at least one of whom must occupy a senior-level position.

While not a requirement, we hope applicants will attend the 2020 National Health Care for the Homeless Conference & Policy Symposium in Phoenix, AZ, May 11-14, which will include a full-day preconference institute on the same topic.


As a result of this learning collaborative, we hope participants will:

  • Comprehend the nexus of historical housing segregation, structural racism, ongoing racist policies, and the perpetuation of homelessness in the US;
  • Learn ways to recruit, retain and support a diverse workforce at all levels of the agency;
  • Learn ways to develop and support a pipeline of leaders of color within an agency;
  • Adopt changes in formal policies and procedures to reflect anti-racist principles;
  • Learn about culturally specific or racially explicit program services;
  • Form inspiring and supportive relationships with others in the field who share a commitment to this work.


The Council seeks diversity among applicants, including health centers at various stages in addressing DEI, in addition to diversity in geography, patient population, staff size, and organizational type. We will also assess how dedicated and enthusiastic applicants appear to be in confronting racism in their organizations and communities.


Because achieving the goals of this collaborative requires top-down action to effect meaningful change, it is important that at least one representative occupies a senior leadership role at their respective agencies.

The Collaborative will meet for 90 minutes by videoconference on the third Wednesday of the month in the following schedule, starting at 1:00 p.m. Eastern Time each day (12pm CT, 11am MT, 10am PT). By submitting an application, you agree to attend these meetings.

  • November 20
  • December 18
  • January 15
  • February 19
  • March 18
  • April 15
  • May 20
  • June 17

By the final meeting of the learning collaborative, each organization will commit to (and share with the group) at least one initiative or tangible action to advance racial equity in their workplace. Council staff will evaluate progress toward these stated initiatives six and twelve months later.

Applicants will commit to active engagement in the monthly meetings, which necessarily includes vulnerable discussion on sensitive issues. These meetings will also require light pre-reading or other assignments.

Technology Requirements

Applicants must have computer systems compatible with Adobe Connect, the software the Council uses for webinars. Check your compatibility here. Your computer should also be equipped with a webcam.

Between meetings, we encourage the cohort to communicate via a free online forum called Slack.

Have a Question?

Bobby Watts, CEO, and Michael Durham, Technical Assistance Manager, lead this initiative on behalf of the Council. Please send any questions to Michael at or (571) 335-0066.

Apply Now

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