Allies Academy

The Allies Academy is a cohort-based leadership development program that equips mid and senior-level leaders in the nonprofit, for profit, government, and educational sectors with the skills to lead equity-focused change initiatives within their organizations.

Over the course of six half-day sessions, participants will build the skills to be equity leaders in their organizations, such as:

  • technical skills of equity-focused communication, assessment, public engagement, and HR
  • emotional skills of courage, resilience, and compassion to keep them in game
  • network of others in the region so they know they are not alone and have peers they can turn to for mutual support.

As part of the NEW Champions for Change program, Allies Academy participants will also connect with the Leaders of Color fellows through the classroom sessions, and equity dinners, and other activities so that participants in both cohorts will be able to support each other and build a robust and diverse network of equity leaders.

The cost of the program is:
qualified non profits
for profit, government, and education
First participant $500 $1500
additional participants $400 $1250

Thanks you to Washtenaw Coordinated Funders for providing scholarship funding for  qualified nonprofits. Organizations are are strongly encouraged to send more than one participant. If your organization needs additional financial assistance please contact Chuck Warpehoski at Change Works Consulting at or 734-663-1870.

The program fee includes six half-day sessions with lunch provided, printed materials, access to a members-only Facebook group, and optional equity dinners and tour of Washtenaw County civil rights history.

Allies Academy is open to nonprofit, for-profit, educational and government organizations with operations in Washtenaw County. Participating organizations must:

  • Commit to sending two people in mid- or senior-level leadership roles to the Academy
  • Either include senior leadership on the Academy team or have a sponsor in senior leadership who will support participants in implementing the lessons of the academy in the organization by providing resources, removing obstacles, and advocating for creating a more diverse and inclusive organization.

Priority will be given to organizations with members participating in the Champions for Change Leaders of Color Fellowship.

The Allies Academy curriculum will be customized to meet the priorities and needs of participants. The preliminary schedule and curriculum is:

  • Application Deadline: July 12, 2019
  • The Equity Journey: Where are we going? Why Equity? Where are we now?  September 14, 2019
  • Seeing Invisible Systems: Inequity is structural, not personal October 17, 2019
  • Communicating about equity & across differences, November 14, 2019
  • Assessment and Evaluation, January 16, 2020
  • Beyond Tokenism: Making equity work in your organization, February 13, 2020
  • Leading Change: How to get your organization to walk the walk and advance equity, March 12, 2020

Leaders of color and white leaders face different needs in advancing equity, both in terms of academic content and social/emotional engagement.

Often the ways that implicit bias, homogenous peer networks, and other dynamics of structural racism operate are invisible to white individuals, but painfully clear to people of color. Therefore, equity-focused leadership development for white leaders requires a greater focus on providing narrative of the effects of structural racism and the analytical frameworks to make sense of the lived experiences of people of color.
Conversely, the pain and devaluing of the experiences of people of color requires that leadership development for the Fellowship component include significant investment in healing and honoring the “wisdom in the room” that is born of lifetimes of navigating racial harm. It is important to create a safe environment for this healing where leaders of color can share honestly without needing to edit their remarks for the sake of white participants.
The two-track approach of the Champions for Change program is designed to meet the educational and emotional needs of both groups while also weaving together interaction opportunities between members of both cohorts so that they can share learnings, expand networks, and create a robust coalition for change in Washtenaw County.

To qualify for the scholarship, your organization must:

  • Have a location in Washtenaw County
  • Have a community benefit mission. This could include organizations with the following missions:
    • Providing relief to the poor
    • Advancing education
    • Improving social welfare
    • Preserving culture
    • Preserving or restoring the environment
    • Promoting human rights
    • Establishment of civil society
  • The following organization are ineligible for scholarships, but may apply for the Academy:
    • Healthcare organizations, including hospitals, healthcare networks, health plans, ambulatory healthcare services, home healthcare and assisted living healthcare organizations, health research organizations, pregnancy centers, and laboratories. Exceptions include independent nonprofit organizations with the following missions: community, behavioral and women’s health clinics; hospices; emergency services; and blood, tissue and organ banks.
    • Professional, commerce, and trade associations.
    • Professional and semiprofessional sports organizations.
    • Political, religious, labor, and fraternal organizations.
    • Organizations with a  policy or mission of discrimination in hiring, compensation, promotion, termination, retirement, training, programs, and/or services based on race, color, sex, national origin, religion, age, disability, gender identity or expression, marital status, pregnancy, sexual orientation, political affiliation, union membership, or veteran status.

The Allies Academy is designed for participants with formal leadership roles within their organization. Formal leadership is defined as the ability to make policy, hiring, or operational decisions that affect the organization beyond your role as an individual contributor. For organizations this can include board leadership as well as staff. Not sure if this applies to you? Contact Chuck Warpehoski at Change Works Consulting at or 734-663-1870 to find out more.

The goal of Allies Academy is to equip participants to be equity champions in their organizations. Creating a diverse, equitable, and inclusive organization is a big job–bigger than any one person can handle on their own. The Allies Academy program is designed for two participants per organization so that people have a change partner within their organization and can support each other in shifting organizational policies, practices, and culture. As such, we require organizations send two people to the Academy.
If you are a small shop with only one staff person in senior leadership, consider sending a board member to the Academy as well.
Still not sure if this is the right fit for your? Contact Chuck Warpehoski at Change Works Consulting at or 734-663-1870 to find out more.

Yes. The Allies Academy curriculum is designed to build on the concepts introduced in earlier sessions as well as to create a safe learning environment that facilitates trust and candor. If you need to make a substitution please contact Chuck Warpehoski at Change Works Consulting at or 734-663-1870.

Yes, the Academy is open to people of all racial identities. The Allies Academy curriculum is designed to meet the learning needs of white participants for whom they ways that race affects them is less visible than for people of color.

The final curriculum will be determined based on participant input. The initial draft of the curriculum is:
Session 1: The Equity Journey: Where are we going? Why Equity? Where are we now?
Session one focuses on building the norms and relationships to sustain a courageous learning community, making the case for nonprofits to be equity leaders, and begin the process of organizational and self-reflection.
  • Group formation
  • Review equity data
  • Why we do this work
  • Begin individual and organizational review
Session 2: Seeing Invisible Systems–inequity is structural, not personal
Session two introduces a conceptual framework to help participants see how inequality persists despite practitioners’ best intentions. Participants explore concepts such as implicit bias, cultural competence/humility, and structural inequity and learn how to deploy personal, interpersonal, and organizational mitigation strategies.
  • Implicit bias
  • Cultural competency/humility
  • Mitigation strategies
Session 3: Communicating about equity
While our brains have evolved a “fight, flight, or freeze” response to fear, there are more effective ways to engage with persuadable skeptics about issues of race and racism. Based on the research of Dr. David Campt and his Allies Communication Toolkit, this workshop will train participants in evidence-based skills to successfully communicate about equity.
  • Compassionate listening
  • Personal narrative development
  • Giving and taking equity feedback
Session 4: Assessment and Evaluation
“Where do I start?” “I’m sure other organizations have that problem, but I just don’t see it here.” This workshop equips participants with a variety of resources, from quick scans to in-depth assessment and evaluation low-cost tools to assess their organization, evaluate outcomes, and analyze the data.
Session 5: “Queremos un mundo donde quepan muchos mundos” Making equity work in your organization
Organizational equity requires a deeper change than hiring a black ED or recruiting a Latina board member. It takes building a culture where the unique contributions of all participants are celebrated. In dialog with NEW Leaders of Color fellows, this workshop will explore what it takes to move beyond tokenism to authentic partnership.
  • Beyond tokenism: authentic partnerships and participation (With participation of LOC fellows)
Session 6: Leading Change
What does it take to go from “that’s a good idea” to organizational buy in, execution, and impact? This workshop will cover organizational change management strategies to ensure the content of the cohort are put into action.
  • Organizational Change Management
  • LIBERATION – We collectively fight for the freedom of all people to live into their fullest potential.
  • COURAGE – We hold a brave space for community building, self-actualization and courageous acts.
  • LOVE & JOY – We embrace both as daily revolutionary acts.
  • EXCELLENCE – Our collective roots and our rich history are springboards to achieving excellence in our work and communities. We practice this daily.
  • MASTERY – Embodying courage, compassion, rigor, resilience and agility is at the center of all we do.
  • LEADERSHIP – has many definitions and a single calling. We nurture those who answer the call.
  • ACCOUNTABILITY – We will build accountability processes and authentic relationships to ensure our work meets the needs and honors the experiences of those most harmed by racism.