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The YWCA Charleston’s Racial Equity & Inclusion program is committed to fostering a diverse, equitable, and inclusive environment where every individual is valued, respected, and empowered. The REI program is designed to create a culture that celebrates differences, ensures fairness, and promotes collaboration among all members of our community. By embracing diversity, striving for equity, and fostering inclusion, we can collectively create conditions where all individuals can thrive and contribute their best.


Contact Shanté Ellis, Racial Equity & Inclusion Program Director

(304) 952-1351  |


Anti-Racist Facilitated Sessions

Understanding bias is the first step to managing it. Our sessions explore the deep rooted history of bias, provides actionable ways to become an ally, bring forth an understanding of privilege, and encourage learners to use what they’ve learned to reduce the negative effects of bias. Check out the YWCA Racial Equity & Inclusion Resource List! Sessions can be taken individually or as a four-part series.

Exploring Implicit Bias in the Workplace Session

Exploring Implicit Bias in the Workplace will aid you in taking the first step in building an inclusive work culture.  This discussion starts with understanding Implicit Bias and introduces actionable ways to become an ally.

Unpacking Hidden Prejudice Session

This 2-hour workshop will give you a better understanding of race-related concepts in hopes of breaking down racial bias barriers. Participants will be able to define common vocabulary that promotes dialogue around equity and inclusion, develop an awareness of the levels of racism, identify historic and current examples of the levels of racism, understand how the past impacts the present and why knowledge of the past can change the future, and identify ways to become an ally personally and professionally.

Meaningful Allyship Session

Meaningful Allyship helps participants recognize what specific actions they can take to show up as allies. Through individual explorations and group discussions, participants develop a shared understanding of allyship and prepare to take action in ways that center impact.

Understanding Privilege Session

In this session, participants will explore the concept of privilege, how it shapes societal cultures that are oppressive to people with marginalized identities, and develop an awareness of the privileges & and discriminations of different social groups & and identities - all to improve personal growth.

Acting with Intent Session

With the use of moving stories from the film: Cracking the Codes: The System of Racial Inequity,  we lead into group discussion and open dialogue about personal encounters and discuss possible ways we could have handled situations differently or hoped for different outcomes.

Juneteenth Freedom Ride 2024

Sponsored by
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Race to End Racism

Annual 5K run/1 mile walk held on the West Side of Charleston that serves as a consciousness-raiser and fundraiser for the Racial Equity & Inclusion program. Also, the event hosts a Cultural Celebration afterward.


Cultural Celebrations

Events like Black History Month and Hispanic Heritage Month are examples of programming and communications that encourage the community to learn about and celebrate various racial, ethnic, and religious groups.


Conversation Cafe

Informal conversations that bring individuals together to engage in casual discussions about themselves, their communities, or current social issues in an informal setting.


Our goal is to:

1)    Affirm the inherent value of all people. Cultivate a culture of belonging that can advance racial equity and inclusion.

2)    Deepen an understanding of differences and needs related to how people identify.

3)    Restore individuals to wholeness by helping people share their stories.

4)    Support relationships that build, trust, belonging, and authenticity.

Virtual Read Aloud Series


Center for Racial Equity & Inclusion

The YWCA Center for Racial Equity & Inclusion strives to be a diverse, inclusive, and equitable place where people of all identities and backgrounds experience a sense of belonging. It will house the growing YWCA Charleston Racial Equity & Inclusion program, which aims to increase cultural education and empathy and empower leaders with the tools to advance positive social change across Kanawha, Boone and Clay counties. All YWCA Charleston programs, except Racial Equity and Inclusion, have their own brick-and-mortar establishment.The YWCA Charleston Center for Racial Equity and Inclusion will be the first of its kind in the City of Charleston, Kanawha County, and possibly the State of West Virginia.

Professional Development and

Welcoming Communities

Programming for

Adults and Children



The YWCA Charleston’s Center for Racial Equity and Inclusion will provide programming that creates safe and brave spaces where truth and storytelling, uncomfortable conversations, and healing can happen for all people, in support of racial equity and inclusion initiatives. Specific initiatives will raise awareness and develop actions via speakers, seminars, and anti-racist training on topics that introduce equitable and inclusive strategies for corporations, organizations, educational, political, and religious institutions at all levels for people at all levels.

The YWCA Charleston’s Center for Racial Equity & Inclusion will provide support structures to create an equitable sense of belonging for all children in the community. Children’s education will be supported through fun and engaging activities that may include: hands-on art activities, read-aloud days, crafts, STEAM events, and more. Community members will have full access to our Center's library, where there will be a wide range of books for adults and children that meet individuals where they are and help support self-education and promote healthy conversations around anti-racist topics.

To fully engage with the community, the YWCA Charleston’s Center for Racial Equity & Inclusion will collaborate with individuals and community partners that include but are not limited to, other anti-racist partners and initiatives, minority women business owners, and other local entities to meet all community members’ culturally-relevant needs provide resources and support, share information, and foster advocacy, regardless of race or level of anti-racist knowledge, towards achieving YWCA Charleston’s mission of “eliminating racism.”


"I believe conversations like this MUST continue for there to be better understanding and improvement.  The dialogue from the many illustrations, videos, and depictions is exactly what is needed for our community and world to become a better place for all."


"I wanted to take a moment to extend my gratitude to you for the training you did for Mission West Virginia this week.  This was our first formal all staff training on Diversity and Inclusion and you certainly helped us increase our skills and knowledge and open our minds to recognize bias in order to better serve and achieve that lofty vision we have.  I see this as an entry opportunity for further growth and feel our organization is ready.  From all those I heard from, they want more, and we hope to have you back as soon as we can gather as a whole again."


"Thank you so much for taking the time to share, educate and be in community with us as the keynote speaker. Your expertise and ethic of care were invaluable."


"Thank you for the amazing training series. My staff truly enjoyed the information presented at both the unit retreats and the program in service. It has sparked some great conversations and reflection for us all." 


"The presentation was very well organized and well presented. The participants felt comfortable sharing their most intimate stories.  Thank you for allowing me to participate.  I found the process both eye-opening and enjoyable and feel better prepared to become both more aware and a better ally. Progress not Perfection!"


I have worked at many different organizations, this has honestly been the best series I have attended in 30+ years of working. I enjoyed the discussions, the slides and teaching methods “spoke to me”. Very well done! Thank you!

Executive Team Member

Familycare Health Centers

I really enjoyed this experience. Thank you for your knowledge and your patience with our group. I’m hoping we’ll all start to take a more active role combatting implicit bias and practicing allyship.

WVSO Musician

The YWCA Racial Equity and Inclusion programming has been made possible in part by a grant from UniCare Health Plan of West Virginia, Inc.

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