New online resource focuses on ‘What Works’ in anti-bias efforts

/ 14 May 2012 / jennifer

Christina Killion Valdez, Rochester Post-Bulletin, May 14, 2012 –

Sometimes success, especially in terms of anti-bias work, is hard to quantify. That’s why a new project by the Diversity Council highlights what works.

What Works: Success Stories in Anti-Bias Education”is an online compilation of success stories about people working to end prejudice and discrimination. The “What Works” website officially launches today.

The objective is to inspire and give practical ideas to people and organizations interested in ending discrimination, said Char Kunkel, professor of sociology at Luther College in Decorah, Iowa, who conducted the research for the “What Works” with support from the St. Paul Foundation.

Kunkel lives in Rochester and has volunteered with the Diversity Council for years. She began the project in fall 2010 while on sabbatical. She teamed with Al Lun, another longtime Diversity Council volunteer who created the website design.

“We wanted to frame it in terms of what works based on what the people doing the community activities really thought was working, rather than a nonprofit funder approach with quantitative data,” Kunkel said. “These are narratives of real people doing real things and having real outcomes in the real world.”

Among the 13 stories online now is the Rochester International Association’s effort to personalize the world, the “Table Talk” discussions on immigration in Rochester in 2009, Peace United Church of Christ’s mission to be an open and affirming church for gay and lesbian members and the community quilt project at Rochester Public Library. Other stories come from Minnesota, Iowa and North Dakota.

Kunkel wrote most of the stories based on interviews and field observations, she said. However, now that the website is online, people from across the country and around the world can add their stories.

There’s no limit to the number of success stories that can be told, she said.