Skip to navigation Skip to content

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

UCAN can proudly report that FY20 was a DEI difference-maker that bodes well for our future despite the ongoing challenges in social justice and race relations that sadly continue to roil our city and nation. Undeterred, however, we continued to advocate for services and supports for our youth, children and families, and for our peers and partners who also serve underrepresented communities. 

With contributions from our staff, Governing Board, Diversity Advisory Board, senior leaders, Employee Resource Groups, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee, and our Staff Ambassadors, in FY 20 we expanded our evolving DEI initiative that recognizes the humanity and potential in all people  

Check out our accomplishments and join us on this meaningful journey!




UCAN integrates diversity and inclusion best practice efforts to engage our staff, partners, and supporters. It is simply how we do business. Our progressive approach embraces cultural differences, which helps UCAN act as a catalyst for change and resist the status quo. UCAN believes that being diverse, inclusive, and culturally/linguistically proficient are essential components in delivering quality programs and services.  UCAN deploys a nine-tiered, internal-external strategy to assist in achieving best in class programmatic success.


*TEE=TCE (Total Employee Experience equals Total Client Experience)


UCAN maintains an inclusive environment that attracts, supports and develops a diverse and culturally proficient workforce.  UCAN understands that achieving this requires leadership engagement, planning, and active learning/effort on the part of all employees.  Our FY19 Employee Engagement survey affirmed that over 90% of our workforce views UCAN as an attractive place to work for employees of diverse backgrounds.


Employee Resource Groups

Inside the organization, Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) create the platform for employee leadership development, interdepartmental collaboration, and behavior change. ERGs are voluntary, employee-led groups of employees who join together in their workplace based on shared characteristics and demographic factors such as gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, age or life experiences.  They are a major part of employee engagement through UCAN’s diversity, equity and inclusion programs. These groups provide members with a platform to influence agency policy while celebrating the individual differences that make UCAN great.


Supplier Diversity

People in yellow vests and hardhats stand outsideUCAN is committed to the goals of enhancing economic opportunity with diverse businesses that are reflective of the overall clientele, staff and communities we serve.  It is UCAN’s policy to provide the maximum practical opportunities to diverse suppliers to provide goods and services as a part of our procurement process. Diversity permeates UCAN’s internal spending as we conducted over $1.2 million in business with minority- and women-owned organizations this year.

Outside of UCAN’s offices, our diversity and inclusion efforts are helping us transition into the heart of the North Lawndale community where construction began in March 2014 on our new campus. Listening to our constituents and understanding the complicated dynamics of race, poverty and culture enabled us to respond with a Community Outreach Plan and Community Hiring Initiative that attracted more than 400 construction job applicants for a limited number of union jobs.

UCAN was committed to awarding a minimum of 50% of campus construction and professional services contracts to minority- and women-owned businesses. We exceeded this benchmark and over 22 million dollars went to minority and women business enterprises.



Commitment to Community

Six people at ribbon cutting ceremonyUCAN is in the midst of a five-year commitment to make a deep and lasting community impact in North Lawndale. As the community’s sixth largest employer, our award-winning Drost-Harding Campus hosted meetings, activities and special events hosted by a growing number of organizations, nonprofits, associations, schools and elected officials who have gathered in the spirit of community service. More than 720 youth and families (10% increase over the previous year) throughout North Lawndale are supported by our expanded services and programs in youth leadership, violence intervention and prevention, clinical and counseling services, mentoring, family support services and workforce development.

As a long-term investor in North Lawndale, UCAN is proud to host and partner with an impressive list of organizations, including:  Restorative Justice Community Court, operated by the Circuit Court of Cook County. The Center for Economic progress provided free tax preparation services that netted local residents and families more than $767,000 in federal and state refunds. Rebuilding Together Metro Chicago (RTMC) has repaired nearly 1,800 homes by working with communities, corporations, trade unions and volunteers – like UCAN employees – to improve the homes and neighborhoods of disadvantaged residents. UCAN is also a founder of the North Lawndale Athletic and Recreation Association (NLARA), which collaborates with community partners to develop sustainable athletic programs, activities and resources for kindergarten through high school-age youth.