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YMCA of the North & Preston Kelly Partner to Break Your Bias

Agency News | May 13, 2021 | 4 min read

Minneapolis, MN (May 11, 2021) – The YMCA of the North’s UnitedHealth Group Equity Innovation Center of Excellence, a leading organization developing with the community creative solutions to disrupt long-standing social inequities and advance system changes through educational experiences, and Preston Kelly, the Minneapolis-based Good Wins agency, have come together to Break Your Bias.

Break Your Bias is a new thought-provoking online experience that encourages people to dismantle their internal biases by challenging their mental models through virtual learning experiences that address their preconceived notions. The goal is for people to identify their own biases and take a first step to address them. It also guides people to YMCA diversity, equity and inclusion resources in order to learn more about different perspectives, and ultimately, bring greater understanding to their communities.

“At the Y’s UnitedHealth Group Equity Innovation Center of Excellence, we are constantly seeking creative ways to solve intractable problems around inequity, intolerance and exclusion,” said Dr. Hedy Lemar Walls, chief social responsibility officer for the YMCA of the North. “While we still have a long way to go, we’re excited to be a part of Break Your Bias and see it as another step in the right direction. We have worked with Preston Kelly for many years and were excited to collaborate with the ‘Good Wins Agency’ when they came to us with this idea. It’s about recognizing and appreciating our differences, and then continuing our education so we can all do better.”

“I know I hold biases and I’ve experienced other people’s biases toward me. Some are obvious and some are implicit but none add anything positive to our relationships with each other. With this project we want to help take a first step toward recognizing our own shortcomings and embracing the differences of others,” said Peter Tressel, SVP, Creative Director at Preston Kelly and Break Your Bias participant. “The YMCA’s United Health Group Equity Innovation Center of Excellence is an amazing resource. They are breaking down biases across race, gender, ethnicity, and more. Partnering with them for Break Your Bias has been an honor and we deeply value their expertise and insights. We hope people leave this experience with a better understanding of our common humanity and our distinctiveness. This online tool can help us all become more open and understanding right now, and as part of a long-term commitment to anti-bias work.”

When participants visit they’ll be introduced to 12 diverse Minnesotans. Minnesotans who are Black, White, Hmong, Asian, gay, straight, young, and old. Minnesotans who are immigrants, who consider themselves shy, (more) who have struggled with mental health, who have been assaulted or threatened. Minnesotans who have judged others and been judged themselves, based on their appearance, sexual orientation, religion and political affiliation. The experience asks participants to choose the person they think fits the answer to provocative questions, based merely on guesswork and appearance. The hope is that the actual answers will surprise and provoke a desire to keep on going and learning more. Following the questions, participants will be prompted to dive deeper into videos and actions that can be taken regardless of time – 1-minute, 5-minutes, or 10-minutes.

Some of those actions include tips for having courageous conversations, which is at the core of choosing to break your internal biases; a thorough resource list of bias-breaking books, podcasts, films, and more; and thought-provoking videos of some of the 12 Minnesotans who put themselves into this project. The videos dive deeper into their stories – what people assume about them – their own experiences with bias, and how they are working to overcome that. is a collaborative project with Preston Kelly, the YMCA of the North, digital development firm, Pixelsmith, and content studio, Soona. Breaking internal biases is a long-term commitment, and an imperative step to help people live respectfully together.

Download the Break Your Bias promo video and connect on Instagram @breakyourbias.

About YMCA of the North’s UnitedHealth Group Equity Innovation Center of Excellence

The YMCA of the North’s UnitedHealth Group Equity Innovation Center of Excellence(EIC)seeks to solve intractable problems around inequity, intolerance and exclusion in the Twin Cities region and beyond. The EIC collaborates with thought leaders, change agents, organizations from all sectors, individuals, groups and communities to develop creative solutions to disrupt long-standing social inequities. With the Y’s legacy of positive change in communities, the EICintentionally engages in thought-provoking experiences and resources that will expand knowledge and skills for all. The EIC offers customized learning experiences including the Equity Leadership Institute, Transformational Workplace Culture series, free online classes and more.

Click here to learn more about YMCA’s UnitedHealth Group Equity Innovation Center of Excellence.