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About the Cultural Competence Program

The Cultural Competence Program


At Senior Services we embrace the belief that cultural, social and other differences should be respected and celebrated. We are building a team of staff, board members and volunteers with extraordinary cultural competence and providing that team with tools to positively address institutionalized racism. All members of our team are responsible for providing and supporting a culturally competent work environment that will enrich our interactions with each other and our products and services. This provides the foundation for empowering our customers (primarily those who are aging and giving care to others) so their needs are justly represented and their desires amply fulfilled.

Senior Services is committed to building cultural competence and undoing institutional racism in our organization. Our mission directs us to promote the emotional, social and physical well-being of all older adults. Through our long-term commitment to the Cultural Competence Program, Senior Services aims to become an organization in which:

  • Staff and customers from communities of color, LGBTQ communities, immigrants and refugees, and other diverse communities feel more respected and valued, and value our services more.
  • Our services are more culturally accessible and relevant to individuals of diverse backgrounds, and are recognized as such in the community.
  • Community members from communities of color, LGBTQ communities, immigrants and refugees, and other diverse communities experience improved health and well being, with more of their basic needs being addressed by the social/human services system.
  • Participants also experience more opportunities for civic engagement through volunteerism and other avenues.
  • The community has a stronger, more capable network of service providers due to collaboration which helps to lay the foundation for increased success in the future.


How do we make this happen? A staff-led Cultural Competence Committee and individual work groups lead the initiative. Currently, we are focusing on the following goals.

  1. Building Common Language and Long-Term Commitment Throughout the Organization
    Key Strategies: ongoing trainings, conversations, and gatherings focusing on learning more about oppression, institutional racism, cultural competence, classicism, and more.
  2. Improved Accountability to the Community
    Key Strategies: evaluate how well our services meet needs of diverse people; improve outreach and the feedback loop with our clients and community members through focus groups, one-on-one meetings, and surveys; deepen our relationships with organizations that specialize in serving people of color, immigrants and refugees, LGBTQ individuals, and more.
  3. Creating a More Welcoming Environment
    Key Strategies: create a culture that is more welcoming of diverse people; improve organization’s response to injustice; create physical spaces that display diversity.
  4. Systemic Change at the Institutional Level
    Key Strategies:
    ongoing training on oppression and cultural competence from year to year; review and improve human resources policies and practices; incorporate cultural competence expectations in contracts.

At the same time, trainings and ongoing discussions will feature an analysis of all oppression. We have also come to understand that our organization should also begin with an understanding of institutional racism, given Senior Services’ particular history.

We wish to thank the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation for their generous support of the Cultural Competence Initiative.

Training Resources

Senior Services requires that all staff attend an in-house orientation training on Dr. Leticia Nieto’s Beyond Inclusion, Beyond Empowerment model. For more information on upcoming trainings, please contact the Cultural Competence Department.

Members of the community may be interested in attending trainings on understanding oppression, undoing institutional racism, or cultural competence. The organizations listed below offer open-enrollment trainings to interested individuals.