EQUAL OPPORTUNITY AND CULTURAL DIVERSITY TOOLKIT

Prepared by: MAR Equal Opportunity and Cultural Diversity Committee
Maryland Association of REALTORS®

MISSION

Develop and recommend policies promoting equal opportunity in housing and real estate, encourage partnerships with other organizations, and develop and implement programs promoting equal opportunity awareness among members and the public.

PURPOSE

This Toolkit is provided as a resource for local Associations interested in creating and/or supporting their Fair Housing, Equal Opportunity, Cultural Diversity and Community Service Committees. The events and activities presented are intended as a general guide, a basis from which to plan. Committee members have participated throughout Maryland in a variety of activities and events to foster equal opportunity, cultural diversity and fair housing. We hope these ideas will be supportive of your local Associations’ goals to assist Maryland in promoting Fair Housing, Cultural Diversity and Equal Opportunity.

ACTIVITIES

ADVERTISING
Organize an Advertising Taskforce for your office or the Association.

COMMUNITY OUTREACH

• BACK TO SCHOOL DRIVE--Ask the school board for permission to donate school supplies directly to local schools or to the administrative office for their distribution. This is a great way to help students who cannot afford to purchase school supplies. Local retail stores as well as affiliates are good resources for funds and items.

• BLOOD DRIVE--Sponsor a blood drive with The American Red Cross. They will bring in and setup everything; you only need to provide the location and refreshments.

• BOOK SALE or BOOK DRIVE--Decide if your goal is to collect books for the purpose of funding events (book sale) or for the distribution of books to others (book drive). Some school systems in the United States as well as in other countries have limited resources for books. Have a book drive if you want to collect books for distribution to other states and countries where books are needed. The Naval Academy (Annapolis) has participated in worldwide book distributions. Ask local libraries to donate discarded books (libraries periodically remove books to make room for newly purchased ones) to your committee or Association. Involve your membership and Association sponsors by asking them to donate books. Books can be arranged for sale and donation by type: children’s, computer/technical, gardening, home repairs, etc. If selling books, consider where you will hold the sale based on whether you want a community presence with proceeds going back to the community or if you want the Association as the site with proceeds going to support Association activities.

• CELL PHONE OR COMPUTER TECHNOLOGY DRIVE--Graduation gifts, off to college purchases and Christmas gifts tend to result in old cell phones and computers being discarded to make way for new ones. Have a cell phone drive to help displaced women and children. Old cell phones are swiped clean and distributed for use to dial 911 in emergency situations. Have a computer drive and donate the old computers to a good cause.

• Contact the director of the Rebuilding Together to determine if it is available in that area/jurisdiction. (Formerly known as Christmas in April)

• Have REALTORS® unite in a working relationship with local community organizations, churches, educational programs and others that serve ethnic communities.

• Visit Scout groups and discuss Fair Housing.

• Form a partnership between your local public school system and your Board of Directors.

• During April’s Fair Housing Month, host meetings at a library to meet with people to share information on procedures to attain goals of renting and qualifying for purchasing.

• Offer a scholarship for a graduating senior. Decide if the school or your committee will determine the selection process. Students can be selected based on acceptance to college or a university, a trade or vocational school.

• Your local Association can sponsor a scholarship.

• Arrange with your local hospital or hospice to bring in a team of readers (read to groups if kids are well enough to participate) or read to individuals. You could do this on an annual, quarterly or monthly basis. What a great way to bring joy into an ill child’s day. Remember to leave the book as a gift for them. Ask your local community center or library if your committee could host a reading time (especially in the summer). Decide what age group you want to work with, as the library may want to determine the books that you read.

• Senior Citizens Centers and Retirement Centers would welcome your planting flowers in the spring. Consider donating your time to brighten the view of the seniors in your community.

• Search for and “let people know” the success stories/achievements of those in ethnic communities.

• Ask your local Parks and Recreation Departments or the local Boy and Girl Scout camps if you can host a Spring Cleanup Day. Plan the cleanup on a day that park workers or scouts can help you. Use this activity to promote good will within the community.

• Sponsor a family for the holidays. Contact local non-profits in your area and ask them to recommend a family in need and provide you with information about the family members and what they could use.

• If there are municipalities within the area your association covers, contact the mayor and ask if they have planned any community clean up days. The members of your association can help organize labor and materials. It’s a great way for the community members to get to know your association members.

• There are plenty of food pantries in need. Whenever your association has a function for its members, ask them to bring canned food items to be donated to a local food pantry. It doesn’t need to just be around holidays, it can be a year long ongoing project.


CULTURAL DIVERSITY
• Ask sponsors to serve breakfast or lunch. Offer a continuing education class in Fair Housing, Diversity or Predatory Lending.

• Plan a Diversity Presentation. Invite speakers, have exhibits and provide food.

• Host a “Be Proud of Your Culture” luncheon. Invite your membership to attend the luncheon. Ask your Association’s committee members, affiliates, sponsors and Board members to provide a covered dish representative of their country or culture. You want to make sure you have enough people committed to bringing food. The Board can provide the beverages. Have each food labeled with the name of the food and the country/culture the food represents. This is a great networking opportunity and chance to show pride in your diversity.

• Have your committee sponsor Spanish classes for REALTORS® or English classes for immigrants.


EQUAL OPPORTUNITY
• Help each local Association establish an Equal Opportunity and Cultural Diversity Committee.

• A “Guilty or Not” dramatization in your office or at your Association helps agents remember the right way to conduct business.

• Hold educational programs regarding “your rights and obligations” as a renter, seller, buyer and/or investor.


FAIR HOUSING
• Host a Fair Housing Breakfast.

• Promote a Community Fair Housing Day in April.

• Ask the board of education for permission to have a Fair Housing Essay Contest. Elementary school students write an essay on what Fair Housing means to them based on that year’s Fair Housing (Calendar) Theme. This contest interests students who don’t participate in the Calendar Contest.

POSTER CONTEST ACTIVITIES AT THE LOCAL LEVEL
• Hold a party or reception for all contributors to the Fair Housing Calendar. Invite children who submitted artwork, their parents and families, school principals and teachers and legislators. Gifts (certificates and savings bonds) can be presented to all by a local legislator. Theme ideas include: circus - popcorn, candy corn, peanuts and kid menu; western – hot dogs, hamburgers, nacho chips. Encourage promotion by word of mouth thru the students and teachers.

• Host a reception for essay and calendar contest winners at your local Association. Invite students, parents, teachers and principals and the press. Display all the submissions (great way to have dialogue with students and guests). Have each winner read their essay or present their poster. Each winner receives a certificate and a gift. Provide kid and adult sized refreshments.

• Set up display tables for the Calendar artwork at community sports events.

HABITAT for HUMANITY BUILD
Plan a Habitat House build or renovation. Contact the local Habitat For Humanity for homes.
Support Habitat for Humanity as a sponsor.


MENTORING /TUTORING
• A Community Service Committee could tutor children in the Housing Partnership housing projects.

• Contact the local Board of Education to meet with the Superintendent. Create a mentoring program and Business Community Partnership.

• Mentor with homework for Hispanics or foreign students to give homework assistance.


EQUAL OPPORTUNITY AND CULTURAL DIVERSITY COMMITTEE
STAFF CONTACT INFORMATION

Melissa Lutz
Maryland Association of REALTORS®
200 Harry S Truman Parkway, Suite 200
Annapolis, MD 21401
800-638-6425
Email: melissa.lutz@mdrealtor.org