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PRISM: A Racial Equity Learning Laboratory

Prism is our racial equity learning lab, which typically runs twice each year in the spring and summer.

Prism participants explore the historic conflict that continues to shape the United States and determine the fate of all its people.

Racism is examined on four levels: internalized, interpersonal, institutional and structural. Tools to assess the state of one’s organization and community are introduced. Participants also have the opportunity to participate in caucus groups and bridge the chasm between community and institution throughout their Prism journey.

Leaders leave the program with greater self awareness, an individualized plan for beginning to dismantle racism in their neighborhood or organization and greater capacity to do so. They also gain a group of fellow travelers to support them well beyond the structured program experience.

Prism is led by two of Cleveland’s most experienced and dynamic racial equity facilitators: Erica Merritt and Adele DiMarco Kious.


All sessions held 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Minimum registration of 15 for lab to proceed.

Session I: Building Ground
Participants will become familiar with the program components, other participants, terminology and explore historical elements that led to our current context. They will also have their first caucus experience. A caucus component will be built into each session.

Spring date: March 7                                                          Summer date: July 18

Session II: The Story of U.S. 
This session will explore the internalized components of racism including bias, privilege and internalized oppression. We will discuss how the brain
influences our conscious and unconscious biases and share tools for diminishing bias and using privilege strategically. Participants also begin to explore their own racial identity and examine the psychological process through which one attaches to that identity.

Spring date: March 8                                                         Summer date: July 19

Session III: Racing Together
This session will focus on the cross-racial relationships and overcoming the barriers to authentic connection. Session will include tools for managing cross-cultural and difference-based conflict with power/privilege dynamics in mind. Emphasis on restorative community- based practices.

Spring date: March 22                                                      Summer date: August 8

Session IV: System Dynamics
This session will focus on the role that institutional and structural racism play in the organizations and communities where we work and live. We will examine how racism thrives even in the absence of malice or bad actors. Participants will be provided frameworks for examining their community’s/organization’s current state and provided with tools for positive transformation.

Spring date: April 18                                                         Summer date: August 29

Session V: Co-Creating Cleveland’s Future 
This session will support participants in getting clear about the kind of community they would like to live in/organization they would like to be a part of and their role in that transformation. We will explore choice points and the shared power model to dream about Cleveland’s transformation. Whether engaging neighbors, colleagues or organizational partners, strong, equity-based relationships are
essential for co-designing Cleveland’s future. Participants will leave this session with a personalized racial equity plan.

Spring date: May 2                                                           Summer date: September 13


Register for Spring here.   Register for Summer here

Spring registration deadline is February 22, 2019 and payment must be received before lab begins. Minimum registration of 15 for lab to proceed.

Questions? Email Lila



Erica Merritt is founder of Equius Group, LLC a consulting firm committed to supporting individuals and organizations to see and experience the world and their work through an equity lens. She uses her expertise in social justice, team dynamics, individual change and the power of inclusion to help leaders transform themselves, their teams and organizations in powerful and sustainable ways.

Erica has been training, speaking and facilitating around issues of social justice for more than 15 years. She has designed programs and facilitated workshops focused on race and racism, oppression and social change, heterosexism and homophobia just to name a few.

Erica holds a Bachelor of the Arts Degree in Public Relations from Ursuline College and a Master of the Arts Degree in Psychology with a certification in Diversity Management (NTL) from Cleveland State University. She also holds coaching certifications from the Gestalt Institute of Cleveland and the Center for Credentialing Education.

As an engaged community member, Erica serves on the Institute for Creative Leadership’s Advisory Board, Ursuline College’s Graduate and Professional Program Advisory Council, and as Director Diversity & Equity for the Junior League of Cleveland.

Adele DiMarco Kious
is the founder and lead steward of Yinovate, LLC. Using frameworks and processes grounded in systems thinking, Gestalt theory, Anthropology, Positive Psychology and Appreciative Inquiry, her passion is working with groups, supporting them to lead transformational change within themselves and the communities and organizations they serve.

She has co-launched three social change initiatives in Greater Cleveland: SOMO (Social-Emotional) Leadership; Change Makers, a dialogue series on race, power and privilege; and City Repair, a neighbor-led empowerment and beautification process. Through her work with sister firm, Currere, Inc., her clients have included The Cleveland Leadership Center, YWCA Greater Cleveland, The Gund Foundation, The Cleveland Foundation, The Cleveland Clinic, The City Club of Cleveland, Cleveland MetroParks, The City of Cleveland, and many more.

Adele has bachelor degrees in Biology and Anthropology, master degrees in Business and Anthropology and has completed extensive training with the Gestalt Center for Organization & Systems Development and the Center for Positive Psychology.



  1. lmills

    Yes, the next session will be during the winter starting in February 2019. Stay tuned to the site or our social media @NeighborUpCLE for specific dates.

  2. Jesus Sanchez

    I’m very interested in this series. Unfortunately, my summer schedule is set and cannot register for this summer. Will there be any more in the near future? Fall perhaps? Thank you.

  3. lmills

    Thanks for your comment! We’ll take that into account when scheduling future sessions.

  4. Allison

    I agree with the above comments stating that this time is incompatible with many work schedules. The typical work week is M-F, 8am-5pm, and scheduling the training during those hours makes it impossible for many of us who are very interested in attending to do so. I understand that many people work evenings and weekends, so this class is perfect for getting people with that schedule involved, which is awesome. I just wanted to let you know that there would be interest in an late evening and weekend course as well. Thanks!

  5. Leesha Blair

    Can’t wait for the next class.

  6. lmills

    Thanks for letting us know! This will help with future planning.

  7. Ed George

    I would love to attend, but these times are incompatible. Hoping you do evening or weekend sessions for a future cohort.

  8. Gilder E. Malone

    please contact Gilder Malone

  9. Mary. Jernigan Cookman

    interested in scholarships

  10. Charnika Jefferson

    I would love to participate in this series but the registration fee is not realistic for single mothers who live in the inner city raising children. Please consider the residents in the community who live with these issues daily who is better fit to express the need of concerns in our area. I am educated not with a Bachelors or Masters but I know about hard work and raising my children to do their best in this cruel and unjust world.

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