PEWL Unit Celebrates Program that Provides Anti-Bias Trauma-Informed Training to City Agencies

Illustration of multiethnic group of men and women

The CUNY School of Professional Studies (CUNY SPS) is proud to highlight the work of its Anti-Bias Trauma-Informed Training (ABTI) program as part of Black History Month

The ABTI program is one of 14 programs in the Professional Education Workplace Learning (PEWL) unit at CUNY SPS. The unit manages nearly $35 million in grants and contracts and partners with agencies and organizations to develop learning solutions and provide employees with professional development through a variety of innovative programs.

ABTI provides the Department of Social Services (DSS) staff, the Human Resources Administration (HRA), and the Department of Homeless Services (DHS) with training to help recognize how individual and structural bias and trauma influence behavior and decision-making in the workplace.

To date, more than 7,300 people have received this training at these three agencies, which employ about 17,000 staff members.

Led by Program Director Dorothea Nixon-Porter, the ABTI team helps staff to understand automatic patterns of thinking, become aware of how unconscious bias can manifest itself in their work interactions, and mitigate bias.

The team conducts this one-day training using an asynchronous eLearn program, combined with in-person and virtual instructor-led training courses consisting of lecture, small group exercises, case studies, and large group discussions.

Surveys taken after the training show that agency staff are very positive about the program—94 percent of respondents say the training deepened their knowledge of anti-bias and trauma informed care and planned to use what they learned on the job.

In addition, 93 percent of participants reported being able to make a difference in their job based on what they learned in training.      

"Anti-bias training is a critical component in creating inclusive and equitable workplaces," Nixon-Porter said. "The ABTI course is useful and relevant for all people, regardless of your identity, culture, or status."

Nixon-Porter added that these types of trainings help us examine ourselves and our behaviors, and encourage more understanding, acceptance, and awareness of the collective value individuals bring when their differences are celebrated, honored, and reflected in their environment. "I am grateful for the ABTI facilitative team and their ability to guide participants through this rewarding and challenging work." 

In November 2022, the NYC Department of Social Services (DSS) Office of Training and Workforce Development (OTWD) received the Quality Agency Award for exceptional leadership and educational contributions to the field of health and human services. The award, from the American Public Human Services Association, acknowledges the ABTI program and its important efforts to support workers.

"The work of ABTI is more important than ever as all of us—regardless of business or sector—strive to acknowledge our own unconscious biases, investigate those biases, and embrace diverse perspectives”, said PEWL Executive Director Amy Perez. “Through a myriad of independent and group exercises, the ABTI facilitators empower learners to embrace curiosity and work to minimize biases in their day-to-day work activities.”  

About the CUNY School of Professional Studies

As New York's leading online school since 2006, the CUNY School of Professional Studies (CUNY SPS) offers the most online bachelor's and master's degree options at the City University of New York, and serves as the University's first undergraduate all-transfer college. With 26 degrees and numerous other non-degree and grant-funded workplace learning programs, CUNY SPS meets the needs of adults who wish to finish a bachelor's degree, progress from an associate's degree, earn a master's degree or certificate in a specialized field, and advance in the workplace or change careers. Consistently ranked highly by U.S. News & World Report for its online offerings, CUNY SPS has emerged as a nationwide leader in online education. The School's renowned and affordable online programs ensure that busy working adults may fulfill their educational goals on their own time and schedule.

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