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One America - Cultural Diversity Resources

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One America

Program: Cultural Diversity Resources, Fargo, ND and Moorhead, MN metro areas
Contact(s): Ms. Yoke-Sim Gunaratne, Executive Director: (218) 236-7277
Purpose: To strengthen the bonds between different ethnic groups, reduce fear, eliminate misinformation and remove barriers that keep people apart in a community of increasing ethnic diversity
Background Program Operations Outcomes


In Cass County, North Dakota, and Clay County, Minnesota, the population of ethnic minorities has doubled over the last decade. In these communities, refugees and immigrants come from more than half a dozen different countries. Lack of information and limited interaction among groups can result in mistrust, stereotyping, intolerance and discrimination. Established in 1994, Cultural Diversity Resources (CDR) is a proactive community initiative which addresses the challenges of growing cultural and ethnic diversity in Fargo, North Dakota and Moorhead, Minnesota. Through the efforts and cooperation of community and business leaders, CDR has focused on developing initiatives that improve racial awareness and understanding.

Program Operations

CDR relies on corps of volunteers, assisted by two full-time staff members, to implement its programs. CDR runs cultural diversity workshops at the request of any group in the community. Participants are from nonprofit organizations, businesses, community and government groups. CDR organizes monthly discussions for parents and teachers interested in exploring diversity issues related to public education. Participants meet monthly over the course of a year to discuss and share ideas and functions as a support group for each other. CDR hosts four separate week long leadership workshops aimed to increase the pool of multiethnic leaders. Workshop topics range from communication skills to networking. Participants learn about the issues people face when they sit on the board of a nonprofit or other agency. After completion of the leadership workshop, participants serve on different committees and coordinate activities. CDR serves as a clearinghouse to screen, train and schedule interpreters for community agencies. Bilingual interpreters are contracted to provide interpretive and translation services for people with limited English proficiency. This is a critical service to community agencies as they seek to expand equity and access for their clients and customers. CDR provides education, information, assessments and referrals on housing and employment issues. Finally, CDR offers a variety of community-related activities. Each year, CDR hosts a "Cultural Diversity Awareness Week" that features a variety show, cultural exhibits and ethnic food. CDR publishes a resource directory and quarterly newsletter. It also sponsors a performing group, "Diversity Voices," which provides a sample of the culture and experiences of both "new" and "old" immigrants.

Outcomes and Significant Accomplishments

CDR provides diversity programs, resources and information for a population of 165,000 in two counties. Over 800 people attended the diversity trainings in 1997 and 65 parents and teachers participated in the community education program. An average of 15 ethnically diverse participants graduate annually from the leadership workshops. More than 500 monthly appointments are made for interpretive services for medical, health and social organizations in the two counties. An average of 50 people have received housing and employment assistance, and an average of 300 people participate annually in the "Cultural Diversity Awareness Week." From its onset, the strength of CDR has been its support from a wide-range of community leaders. This support includes leaders from social and human resources, cities, counties, schools and ethnic communities. Most importantly, CDR has been replicated within the communities of Marshal and Winona, Minnesota. Individual programs have also been replicated throughout the United States.

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