Group to Provide Cultural Competency Training

Jan 11, 2021

The Cultural Humility & Equity Collaborative will begin work with the City of Pittsburgh's Department of Public Safety.

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An organization established by Dr. Azadeh Block, associate professor of social work at Cal U, and four colleagues will provide cultural competency training to bureaus within the City of Pittsburgh Department of Public Safety. 

The Cultural Humility & Equity Collaborative LLC was formed in 2020 to help organizations train constituents on issues relevant to cultural humility, equity and intersecting identities; evaluate internal policies and explore community partnerships for meaningful corporate responsibility and social justice. 

Dr. Sheri Boyle, Dr. Janice McCall and Dr. Marta McClintock-Comeaux, all from the Cal U Department of Health and Human Service Professions, are part of the new collaborative, as is Professor Jessica Friedrichs, of Carlow University. 

“We have a six-month timeline to develop a tailored program that we can deliver to first responders,” Block said of the $50,000 contract with the City of Pittsburgh. “Utilizing an active learning approach, our team will provide content to public safety officials on cultural humility and competence, social work skills, interpretation and translation. 

“Our team’s connections to the immigrant and refugee communities will help us to bring real-world knowledge on the experiences of our neighbors.” 

The Cultural Humility & Equity Collaborative will develop curriculum specifically for first responders designed to meet the needs of local immigrant and refugee communities with their direct input.  

They will work with other cultural advisers and colleagues from other community organizations, such as the Jewish Family and Community Services and Global WordSmiths LLC.

The goal is to start the training this summer. 

The collaborative is the next step for Block, who provided training in 2019 and 2020 to employees of Jefferson Hospital and other members of the Allegheny Healthy Network. 

“Our team is grounded in social work experience, we bring compelling and relevant personal experiences to the work that we do,” Block said. 

“For example, Sheri is a fourth-generation Japanese American whose parents and grandparents were interned in detention camps during World War II. Janice is a second-generation Korean American and Marta's knowledge of gender and women's issues, specific to our region, brings a critical lens. I was born here, in New Castle, but my dad is an immigrant.” 

An expanded team could include members with other areas of expertise. 

“There are a lot of lenses that are necessary and valuable when it comes to cultural humility. Each project we work on will have a different cohort of expertise to effectively meet the client where they are at,” Block said.