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Our History

It started with a question…

In 1984, the founders of VISIONS—three black women who grew up in legalized segregation and a white Jewish man who grew up in the civil rights movement—brought together change agents in the fields of education, law, psychology, public health, business and religion, all of whom were asking the question, “How do we include people who have been historically excluded from white, mostly male institutions?”

The challenge was to understand and pioneer ways that everyone could prosper.

Following the first wave of affirmative action in the U.S., the common practice had been to add more diversity without paying attention to how to best prepare the workplace, community, or church for success. Organizations failed to recognize the elements that needed to change to ensure that those being brought in would stay and thrive.

Co-Founder & Executive Director Valerie Batts on VISIONS’ Humble Beginnings and Great Impact.




VISIONS developed a model that stood up to this challenge.

Our model is built on the understanding that change to any system must occur at multiple levels and address multiple variables of difference, including race and ethnicity, gender, class, sexual preference, and others. VISIONS recognized it was not enough to open doors to diversity at the institutional level alone. Instead, one must also address barriers to inclusion at the personal, interpersonal, and cultural levels as well. This approach revealed the attitudes, unconscious biases, and behaviors that prevent people from succeeding in organizations and pointed out what needed to change to make success for everyone a possibility.

Co-Founder Angela Bryant shares her experience of VISIONS’ history.
Co-Founder John Capitman shares his experience of VISIONS’ history.


Working with the next generation…

In 2003, in collaboration with W.K. Kellogg Foundation, VISIONS began to actively look at how these issues are the same and different for young people, and developed a version of our model geared toward those ages 15 to 30. Our engagement with this age group, including developing a cadre of youth consultants, has allowed us to stay fresh in our thinking and our perspectives and join with youth to continue our work to increase opportunity and equity for all people.

Learn why VISIONS works »
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