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Sessions designed to encourage more diversity, inclusion Downtown

Visitors to Downtown DeLand could soon notice stickers on storefronts, indicating that the businesses have helped themselves to free training in diversity and inclusion.

Over the past two years, as part of the MainStreet DeLand Association’s effort to open back up better after pandemic-related closures, the merchants and others studied ways to improve Downtown DeLand’s standing with minority communities — including people of color and members of the LGBTQ community, who have sometimes reported feeling unwelcome in Downtown DeLand shops and restaurants.

The result is a series of five 90-minute training sessions that will be offered free to all DeLand businesses beginning this month. Those who complete all the sessions will receive stickers to post.

The first session is tonight, and 94 people have registered to attend. It’s not too late, however. All the training sessions will be available to watch online afterward on the MainStreet DeLand Association website.

The sessions, which will run every other Monday from April through June, will be offered at The Dreka Theater, 112 E. New York Ave. in Downtown DeLand. The effort is being funded by Volusia County and the City of DeLand, which are each chipping in $10,000. 

Savannah-Jane Griffin, treasurer of the MainStreet DeLand Association, and new head of The Neighborhood Center of West Volusia, said DeLand is committed to ensuring the community is welcoming to all, and to ensuring that training workshops are available to all, as well.

“Many of the businesses Downtown are family-owned, and paying for some training can be really expensive,” Griffin said. 

Topics include inclusivity in the workplace, implicit bias, racial history, and LGBTQ Safe Space training. The sessions were ​​created in conjunction with JHD Diversity Consultants and Stetson University.

To register, find a link on the homepage of the MainStreet DeLand Association website,


All programs take place 4:30-6 p.m. on Mondays at The Dreka Theater, 112 E. New York Ave. in Downtown DeLand. Here’s the schedule:

April 25 — What does it mean to be an inclusive leader?

  • Hear from a panel of community leaders on the strategies they have used to build inclusion into their daily business practices.

May 9 — Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, & Accessibility 101

  • An introduction to diversity and inclusion best practices. Learn how to foster equity and inclusion in the workplace.

May 23 —  Healing Our Racial History

  • Hear from members of Volusia Remembers, who will remember, acknowledge and reflect upon our history of racial terror.

June 13 — Implicit Bias

  • Understand and minimize the role unconscious bias plays in your daily life. Learn how to recognize and manage your biases.

June 27— LGBTQIA Safe Zone Training

  • Through interactive activities, learn how to advocate for the LGBTQ+ community by promoting understanding, support and inclusivity.

Steps businesses can take right now

Education: Seek opportunities to learn more about what it means to be an inclusive leader. 

Support and collaborate with minority-owned businesses and organizations: Look for opportunities to support minority-owned businesses and groups. Follow them on your social media, attend their events, do business with them. 

Apply an equity lens to your work: An equity lens is something you use daily; it’s essential to ensure we are asking ourselves the questions that will make us think about being equitable and inclusive in every aspect of our work and interactions. 


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