banner that reads "the united academy for inclusion and belonging" with many multi-colored illustrated hands reaching skyward

updated on 3/19/2021

Click here for a printable flyer. Registration is currently closed. Please contact us to be added to the waitlist for future opportunities to participate. 


The United Academy for Inclusion and Belonging is a series of six virtual, two-day diversity development classes led by Missouri State University’s Division for Diversity and Inclusion. This course is free of charge to the staff and board members of our 22 partner nonprofits; officers of the Springfield Police Department; and the board, staff, and alumni of Leadership Springfield

Each of the six classes in the United Academy will be facilitated by Dr. Juan Meraz, Assistant Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion at Missouri State University. United Way’s network of nonprofit leaders along with Springfield police officers will gain a foundational knowledge of social justice principles that will enable them to begin the journey toward lasting systemic change in our region. Dr. Meraz will customize the course materials for the United Academy so that it is especially relevant for participants, including scenarios and activities that are applicable to the real-life situations that public servants commonly encounter. 


The United Academy is open to staff and board members of UWO’s 22 partner nonprofits, alumni of Leadership Springfield, and officers of the Springfield Police Department at no charge to participants or their organizations. Each organization will be able to register at least 12 participants in one of the six classes in 2021. Upon recommendation of the MSU facilitator, we will strive to blend each class with participants from many organizations. Thus, each organization may have a maximum of four participants in one class to achieve that blend.


Classes will take place from late January through March of 2021. The course is a 2-day commitment and will take place on Thursdays and Fridays from 9:00-4:00 each day, with a one-hour lunch break at 12:00. Course dates are as follows: 

  • Class 1: January 28-29
  • Class 2: February 11-12
  • Class 3: February 18-19
  • Class 4: February 25-26
  • Class 5: March 11-12
  • Class 6: March 18-19

In true global pandemic fashion: Zoom. MSU has offered similar courses via Zoom with success during the past several months.


Eligible participants (staff and board members within United Way’s network of nonprofit partners, officers of the Springfield Police Department, and the Leadership Springfield network) need to complete an online form to register. If you are not with one of these groups and would like information on future classes, please reach out to Cindy. The deadline to register is one week before the class start date.


UWO staff partnered with staff at Community Partnership of the Ozarks to write a grant for the Community Foundation of the Ozarks’ Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Fund with support from the Springfield Police Department and 21 of our nonprofit partners. CFO granted UWO an award of $18,900 to carry out these classes, and MSU offered UWO a significant price reduction for this initiative. If 300 individuals were to register for this course on their own at MSU’s typical cost of up to $1,200 per participant, this would cost $360,000! This is an incredible value for our local nonprofit and law enforcement community. UWO is very appreciative of MSU offering this course at a discount.


This group of professionals touches all areas on the spectrum of public service. From emergency shelters to mental healthcare to educational support to public safety, this group of leaders provides critical services to our community members in need. In public service, we must ensure that every person seeking assistance, either from a nonprofit or from the police, is treated with dignity and respect. The forces of racism and inequity affect us all, but there is a lack of shared awareness that prevents well-meaning professionals from truly making progress toward creating a more equitable community. This initiative enables hundreds of public servants to complete the area’s leading program for uncovering racism and understanding its impact on individuals and the workplace. We will intentionally fill each class with a blend of different organizations so that we can all learn from one another’s unique perspectives. Participating in the course as a blended group will also strengthen our inter-agency relationships and partnerships to provide more collaborative service to our community. Upon completion of the United Academy classes, the Springfield area will be one step closer to becoming the diverse and inclusive community that we aspire to be. 


Kimberley Lippelman-Nash
Director of Administration
E: [email protected]
P: 417-863-7700 ext. 222