Build Diversity, Equity and Inclusion


OPWDD will leverage its ongoing work with the New York State Community of Practice (CoP) on Cultural and Linguistic Competence and initial agency assessments of equity issues to develop and implement a comprehensive strategic initiative to ensure diversity, equity and inclusion, inclusive of culture, ethnicity, language, sexual orientation, gender identity, and ability. Building on these existing efforts, OPWDD will invest $30 million of ARPA funds for non-profit service providers, local government authorities and/or institutions of higher education to advance equity, diversity, and inclusion in the service system. Through development of strategy for the agency and field, OPWDD will examine policies and programs that impact equity, diversity, inclusion, language access and cultural competency. Other activities will include engaging stakeholders directly in defining needs in these areas and providing input on how OPWDD can best meet these needs and serve diverse populations. OPWDD will share the results of these investments broadly to ensure that best practices are cascaded across the service system. 

Investments in Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion

Georgetown University Partnership

OPWDD is entering a three-year partnership with Georgetown University National Center for Cultural Competence (NCCC) to strengthen the capacity of New York’s service system. The goal of the partnership is to advance and maintain cultural and linguistic competence (CLC) as essential approaches to achieve equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) within its system of supports and services for persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD), their families, and the communities in which they live. This partnership has three primary components that will focus on OPWDD, persons with the lived experience of I/DD and their families, and the state’s I/DD provider network. The NCCC will conduct a comprehensive evaluation of all activities to determine the impact and inform future OPWDD EDI and CLC efforts.  

OPWDD Component

The NCCC will provide an array of technical assistance and professional development activities that include: 1) Create a CLC action plan; 2) Conduct an audit of OPWDD’s policies and practices to determine the extent to which they advance CLC and EDI; 3) Conduct an assessment of the professional development interests and needs of OPWDD staff; 4) Implement a series of custom tailored professional development activities for OPWDD staff that also include the evidence-based practices of coaching and mentoring; 5) Adapt and conduct the NCCC’s Leadership Academy for Cultural Diversity and CLC for designated  OPWDD staff; 6) Develop standard, benchmarks and metrics that will assist OPWDD to monitor and assess EDI and CLC within the New York State I/DD service system; and 7) Provide ongoing technical assistance and consultation throughout the project.    

Persons with I/DD and their Families Component

The NCCC will: 1) Convene a series of virtual forums that engage persons with I/DD and their families to define equity and what it means for their interests, needs, the communities in which they live, and the I/DD system in New York State; 2) Provide consultation to OPWDD to create a statewide leadership group composed of persons with I/DD and their families across diverse racial, ethnic, cultural, and linguistic groups to inform the work of EDI, CLC, and system change; and 3) Conduct a Leadership Academy pilot for persons with I/DD that emphasizes their essential role in advancing EDI and CLC change efforts in New York State.   

I/DD Provider Network Component

The NCCC will: 1) Engage the I/DD provider network in a process to differentiate and define equity, diversity, inclusion, and cultural competence and linguistic competence and what they mean for the I/DD service system in New York State; 2) Offer an instrument and provide technical assistance and consultation to assist the I/DD provider network to conduct organizational assessments of cultural and linguistic competence and capacity for EDI; 3) Develop a report of the findings of the statewide process of capacity for EDI and CLC in New York State; 4) Provide consultation to the I/DD provider network to develop EDI and CLC action plans including how to plan for and manage organizational change; 5) Provide technical assistance to the New York State Community of Practice on Cultural and Linguistic Competence in Developmental Disabilities; and 6) Conduct a series of webinars on key EDI and CLC practices in the context of I/DD services.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Innovation Grants

OPWDD will allocate a portion of ARPA funding to issue grants to eligible organizations that are implementing innovative strategies to enhance the diversity, equity, inclusion, and cultural competence of the New York State I/DD service system. The goal of the grant funding is to improve EDI and cultural competence through sustainable strategies and programming. Additional information on the diversity, equity, and inclusion innovation grants will be forthcoming.