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NCN Webinar – All Access: Inclusive Design for Shared Spaces
NCN Webinar I Space for All: Inclusivity in Building Communities
Centre for Social Innovation’s Diversity, Inclusion and Anti-Discrimation Policy

Family Services Center of NY: Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Action Plan 2019-2020

Glasser-Schoenbaum Human Services Center’s Board Statement Supporting Diversity/Black Lives Matter – June 2020

Topics Below

Promoting Inclusive Shared Spaces

See also Values Statements

Promoting Inclusiveness

From an Ask-NCN Conversation, 2/2/16


Katie Edwards, Nonprofit Centers Network
Hi NCN members,

Diversity, equity and inclusion are hot topics in the nonprofit sector, and it’s come up in several of my recent conversations around shared space. How are we trying to promote these principles in our spaces and make them welcoming to people from all walks of life?

I’m looking for examples of initiatives in your centers that intentionally bring in more people from socially diverse groups to use your spaces. I’m also interested in efforts that haven’t been so successful. Why do you think they failed? What could we do better? What resources do you need to make this happen?
Thanks for your feedback!


Pam Mauk, Together Center, 2/3/16
In some areas we have some results. We have programs directed at different groups:

  • A “cultural navigator program” assists immigrants and others speaking Spanish and languages of India (and at a partner location Russian and Chinese).
  • A senior program run by Indian Association of Western Washington is off our lobby.
  • Our Advocate office by the lobby has a program for domestic violence survivors run by a major agency supporting the Spanish-speaking.
  • We will soon have a Muslim Cultural Resource Center (information, referral and counseling) one day per week in our advocate office.

The staff members of these organizations participate in our campus meetings and social events.

A group that was designed to address needs of immigrants and refugees (ERIC) has operated as a network and discussion group for a decade, and come up with some good solutions, such as the cultural navigator program. It is now working to get its own IRS nonprofit status: in the meantime Together Center is its legal sponsor. Once relaunched, it hopes to advise widely to businesses, government and nonprofts on the issues you mention. I mention them because the loosely organized group has some impact, but did not greatly impact local nonprofits. We are hoping that a group invested in the cultural competency mission might have greater impact on us and the community (ours is a very diverse community in the area of immigration and language: over 1/3 speak another language in the largest nearby city). A suggestion is then to bring in an organization in some capacity that has this expertise and mission.


Angela Baldrige, The Plantory, 2/3/16
We believe that the best way to invite diversity in is to be diverse. So we intentionally build a diverse and inclusive community. We subsidize our membership with fundraising. When we realized prices were still too high for a lot of social justice activists, we began providing sponsorships for organizations that meet missing factors of diversity in our space, and then work with these orgs to connect them to opportunities to support their sustainability and continued use of our space. For example, we connect groups with free social media management, donors who sponsor their membership, and interns. We also have an advisory council that helps with our program development, and that group represents various factors of diversity including client bases served by our populations. We involve our members in developing programming. We have a values statement as part of our ethos, and it is shared with all members when they apply. We host panel discussions on controversial topics and feature people from various perspectives and micro and macro levels. And we facilitate regular community interactions that are fun to support the building of relationships. Our staff interacts intentionally with diverse community members in and outside of the center, taking walks, getting coffee, etc. to build the relationships that we believe make the difference in understanding each other. We also call on the experts in our center to advise us (we are home to groups that are experts and advocates in LGBTQ issues, violence, education, access for people with disabilities, and more). Their advice is invaluable in shaping our approaches. We have an anonymous feedback system in addition to open channels to encourage free feedback.


Philip, CommunityWise Center, 2/19/16
Hello (and sorry this is a bit of a ramble)

This is a really important topic/issue. CommunityWise is developing an equity framework taking into account multiple factors to determine everything from how much rent we charge to different groups, who has and needs access to the space (and why), and to address barriers to participation from members in the governance of the centre. The last bit kind of sounds like the classic “why don’t they come to my meeting/event” when really CommunityWise needs to be better in tune or relevant to the needs of our very diverse members (some more than others). It’s a problem of the Non-profit Industrial complex as well. At this stage we want to be transparent with our members and ensure that thier contributions have an impact on these decisions and that it isn’t tokenization.

Through research focusing on our centre and from developmental evaluation of our own community development programs to members we are exploring ways in which to support specific groups and communities wich face systemic challenges, oppression, and limits to access to resources where other perhaps more mainstream or charitable organizations do not. It’s been really interesting at the board, committee, and community level to have these conversations over the last little while.

One way that we can do this is through developing a rental equity policy. Right now we are reframing our office rental costs for all of our tenant members. It has, in the past, been based almost entirely on the size of the space. What we find though is that it is not groups that would benifit the most from space that get it but rather well resourced groups that can use greater amounts of time and social capital or existing relationships with communitywise administration staff/board to persure vacant or more desirable space in our centre. This is a social problem broadly that may also appear in other non profit centres as well. We are working to now take into account additional things like relative access to funding, what the group uses the sapce for, levels of inclusivity within their own organizations, need etc. when determining cost of rent and access to vacant space in the centre. Not directly related to rent but in other forms of support and services we provide this has been something of an informal practice but now, with staff and board succession planning in mind, we want to solidify this in a tansparent manner.

With Equity in mind are there things that others have tried or policies applied when deciding who gets space and how much they pay for it?


Alan Ziter, NTC Foundation, 2/19/16
I appreciate your inquiry and I hope this information will be helpful.

1. NTC Foundation has stewardship over 26 historic buildings. We renovate them and then lease them out to a range of nonprofit, for profit and sole proprietor tenants.

2. With regards to leasing:
a. First off, lease rates are established based on 1) how much money we need to collect to financially operate the buildings and have a maintenance reserve and
pay debt service. The rates are aligned with the current market for similar space.
b. Generally we have a nonprofit rate, and a commercial rate. Rates may vary based on the size of the lease space, just as in the commercial real estate market.
c. There are many groups – that are nonprofit and commercial – that we wish to have in the ARTS DISTRICT, however they cannot pay the rent that we must
charge to stay viable.
i. For those groups, we provide a Rental Subsidy from grant funds we have secured that will allow them to be in residence for the first two years at a subsidized rental rate, in the hopes their being here will help them to grow their earned income or better engage their donors. Of course there are some groups that we continue to subsidize with annual rental grant
ii. The lease is structured to show the “regular lease rate” we would normally charge, but allow for a “rental grant” rate from which they pay.
iii. This is a win-win because the NTC Foundation will then ‘pay itself’ from the grant funds for the differential.
iv. Each year we ‘grant out’ over $300,000 in rental subsidies, but we are a much more diverse and successful Arts District by doing this….and our building stay well maintained and secure and 100% occupied!


Online Resource Center

An Introduction to LEED
Critical Considerations for Designing Today’s Interior Spaces (Dovetail DCI)
Working With Your Architect (Chicago Community Loan)
NCN Webinar I Better Build Outs: Managing Tenant Improvement
Serve Denton’s Floor Plan


Topics Below:

Shared Space Design Advice
Percentage of Space Used for Conference Rooms and Collaboration Spaces
Innovative Use for Open Space (Communal Dining)


See also:

Costs for Redesign Drawings
Inclusive Shared Spaces
Vacant Buildings Repurposed
Virtual Tours of Shared Space


Shared Space Design Advice

From Ask-NCN Conversation 5/24/2017


Lara Jakubowski, The Nonprofit Centers Network
We were asked to pass on the following question from an NCN member:
We are in the planning stages for a 35,000 shared space for 12 human services agencies in a 110,000 square foot building. We are looking for design tips since our architects don’t have extensive experience working on projects like this. What are the best design features you incorporated in your shared space project? What mistakes did you make in your design?


Mary Jo Shircliffe, Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky
Storage space!


Shelby Bradbury, Sierra Health Foundation
Being thoughtful of parking for tenants and guests.


Misha Palin, The Lab
1) storage space is definitely on my list too. (if you’re doing an event space think about where you’ll put chairs, etc. Also, we didn’t put storage in the offices, so all our offices have to bring cabinets if they want to store anything.
2) security, where are there going to be security holes in your design?
3) trash…we put in 3 trash draws in our kitchens and they work well.
4) dishwasher so the kitchen doesn’t get piles of dishes.
5) IT thoughtfulness: Laying in the highest capacity internet cables…spending the extra money as the technology becomes outdated so quickly. How will your entire building get good wifi coverage…make sure the wiring gets thought through early
6) sound bleed. Don’t skimp on insulation and how your tenants will be affected by sound. Sound travels through ceilings as well.
7) our office walls have 1 glass wall each…it creates a fishbowl effect. I think it helps with keeping people from hiding out…but it’s also not the most comfortable…not sure how to resolve that. I think partial window decals or curtains could be a good compromise.
8) figure out how much you need to make in order to cover your expenses. NCN has suggestions about how much common space you should have vs rentable space. Just remember, common space won’t be making you money but will be an amenity and may be rented for events. Don’t get yourself into a bad place where you make awesome common space that looks great but are losing money on your office overall.


Pam Mauk, Together Center
We have supports at what we call our Front Door (at our three building strip mall), which include touchscreen map, telephones, offices for our information and referral, an advocate office and a cultural navigator office. We created these out of other spaces over time, but you might think of the type of help you will want at the entry while you are planning.


Kim Sarnecki, Tides
Make your space as flexible as possible. Walls that retract, furnishings on wheels. You will appreciate the ability to be able to adjust spaces as needed.


Charlene Altenhain, Glasser Schoenbaum Human Services Center
Our center was built in 1990 and we are constantly wishing storage was included in the design. Storage for us and our tenants. Be cognizant of parking if you offer conference rooms. We have enough parking spaces for our tenants and their day-to-day clients. However, tenants will frequently hold meetings in our conference rooms, sometimes with up to 50 people and then parking definitely becomes an issue. Stations and dumpster for recycling is also important.


Mike Gilbert, The Jones Trust
Before you begin to work with the design team, you might want to host a partners meeting and discuss workflows as community where you can identify the natural collaborative work that will evolve and try to position the layout where all organizations have opportunity to maximize these collaborative efforts. Consider a large open front lobby with lots of natural light where people can gather for small evening receptions, etc. It is good for meeting rooms to open to the lobby if possible. Think about lots of glass and think about a centralized workroom and breakroom that helps stimulate conversation among building partners. Storage is necessary, but is it as valuable as program space? Are there other opportunities for storage solutions? Try to keep everything as flexible and modular where possible.

Considering your long term operating expenses and make lighting, heating & cooling choices based on life cycle costs so that you capitalize your energy conservation choices and enjoy the benefits with efficient operating expenses over time. LED lighting and daylight harvesting are good investments as well as occupancy sensors. Think of how you will manage the heat and air controls in the space. (It is easy to have the building fight itself if there are too many controllable thermostats).

Think of how you can activate the building and grounds for a pop up event for community building.


Michele Vandentillaart, The Link
I have to ditto Charlene’s comments, parking, storage, staff space and their storage needs, event supply storage are all very important as well as janitorial/maintenance space with slop sinks.


Valerie Hill, Center for Social Change
Our members have two favorite space features- our kitchen and our meditation room.
Our meditation room is a small space open to members all day but we also have guided meditations once a week as well as offer free 15min wellness sessions (massage, reiki, acupuncture, etc) once a month on a first come first serve basis.Our kitchen has a microwave, stove/oven, toaster oven, blender, juicer, etc and our members love to use it. If you do this, make sure you have windows or some sort of ventilation. A dishwasher is absolutely a smart move, we wish we had made! We have recently started composting and if there is an easy way for you to integrate that into your kitchen, I highly recommend it. It is also nice if possible to place your kitchen near natural light if you want to have a small herb garden.

Another popular feature is our home-made phone booth, it was a closet that we turned into a private area with sound proofing and a glass door.

I highly recommend looking into the best lighting because we have florescent lights throughout our building that nobody likes- there are studies about it triggering migraines and other issues. We end up turning off most of the lights and relying on lamps and window light for a more homey feel. My co-worker recommends LED lights and specifically color-changing LED lights in spaces where you may have frequent events. No need to hire a lighting company for an event, when it’s already built in!


Percentage of Space Used for Conference Rooms and Collaboration Spaces

Ask-NCN 4/25/2017


Debbie Shoemaker, Community Foundation for Southern Arizona
I am looking to see what existing nonprofit centers planned for conference room space? We are a nonprofit community foundation. We have bought a building and are now in the design process. Our community spaces will be in an area of around 8,000 square feet. We will have a large conference room, a co-lab space, a kitchen and some lounge areas. Does anyone have any experience on what percentage of that 8,000 sq ft should be conference room?


Mark Krider, Carroll Nonprofit Center
We have a 40,000 sq. ft. building with 24 nonprofits, we have just over 3000 sq. ft. of conference room space that can be divided equally into 3 rooms via portable walls, and it still not enough. I think the question is how large is your large conference room you already have, and what will it accommodate, a lot of board meeting we host can be anywhere from 12-20 people, we also have it where we can change the room to classroom style to host trainings up to 24 people. Or open all three rooms to host a conference, or a very large training, as many as 80 people. So its really what you are comfortable space wise on given up and what you are planning on hosting. I will say outside nonprofits do use our conference rooms so they are continuously being used. Remember a lot of meetings like to have some sort of food or drinks so have space allocated for that. I like to use the 40 sq. ft. per person for conference room space.


Angela Baldridge, The Plantory

We have about 15000 square feet, and we have 11 conference rooms. This is enough, but we sometimes convert one of our flexible spaces for events too. We stay pretty busy, with over 1000 people using them every month (and we’re in a pretty small market). We surveyed our members and the nonprofit community before building to get a sense of how much space to allocate and what it should be like; we have a large conference room that seats 80ish, a board room, two more board-size rooms, a yoga studio, and then 5 smaller (2-4 person) rooms. Then we also have an open coworking area that can be rented out along with our gallery. We have reservations every day at least, and our members get 10 hours of conference time included per desk so they also use the rooms regularly.

Innovative Use for Open Space (Communal Dining)

Ask-NCN 12.12.17


Kelsey Collier-Wise, United Way of Vermillion
We’re in the process of designing our center and would love some feedback/examples. One of the things that will be housed in our space is a once-a-week community meal that will require a large communal dining space. The rest of the week, we’d like to look at ways to partition or rearrange the space for other uses. If you have a large open space that you use in interesting or innovative ways or know of similar examples, please share!


Carlie Kuban, Serve Denton
Here is the floor plan for our shared space, the Serve Denton Center. We are located in Denton, TX. We have different options for shared space – large conference room, classroom, cafe area, and individual counseling rooms that can be booked. We add a monthly charge for agencies in the building to use the shared spaces, and then offer it as a one time fee for any other organizations that want to book these spaces. We’ve discussed using the conference room space for additional desks for our “hot desk” users throughout the week, depending on the need. We plan to use the conference room for educational seminars, social service group lunches, fundraisers, collaboration workshops, and more.


Diane Kaplan Vinokur, University of Michigan (Retired)
You may want to check out the Posner Center for International Development in Denver. They have a lunch space that is also used for community assemblies, presentations, etc.


From an Ask-NCN Discussion, 12/2/15


James Thompson, New Path Foundation
I was wondering if any of you had protocols or policies or just learning experiences in terms of the costs associated with having to pay for the planning of space for new tenants; specifically related to floor plan drawings and the engagement of consultants to do this type of work? Currently we have been underwriting all associated planning costs and were looking around to see if there was examples of cost sharing between facility owners (i.e. Landlords) and new tenants coming in. After a few experiences with tenants requesting redesigns and changes along the way to layouts, we are needing to rethink our current approach of covering all these costs. For example, perhaps a set rate for plans/drawings based on square feet that would be covered initially by the landlord with any subsequent changes or additions being borne by the tenant…just a thought we are mulling over at present.


Debra Bodner, City of Vancouver
Not sure if this will help at all, but we, in Cultural Services at the City of Vancouver, have a grant program specifically aimed at space-related issues. In this program we will fund both planning and capital projects. Among other things, organizations can apply for a grant to plan for new space or plan the re-design of the space, and then apply for capital funds to do renovations. We fund up to 50% of the project costs; the organization may contribute 25% in-kind services; they must raise at minimum the remaining funds.Here is a link to our program guidelines and information. feel free to contact me if you’d like more info or have questions.


Faisal Abid, The NonProfit Center of Boston
I’m the Property Manager at the NonProfit Center of Boston run by Third Sector New England, and have been involved with the management of this property for about 4 and a half years.In my time here, we’ve had some new organizations move in that required a redesign of existing spaces; in addition to this, we’ve had existing tenants who, as part of a lease renewal, have requested redesigns of their space. For the most part we build in the cost for both the design and the actual construction in to their lease term (as in the $/sf/year cost is higher if a redesign is needed), and specify exactly what we are willing to cover in the lease. As an example, we have a tenant here with about 1,800sf who is renewing for a 5 year term, and as part of the extension, requested a redesign of their space. We wrote in to the improvement plan of the new lease that we would cover the cost of two full (space layout, mechanical, etc.) drawings done by a professional architect, and anything beyond that would be the tenant’s responsibility.I also used to work for a property management company, and at a lot of their sites, they would establish a per square foot allowance for new tenants that would cover any drawings and construction, calculated based on the length of the term and the per sf cost the tenant would be paying.I’ve also found it helps to have someone from building management involved from the start of the design process, to manage expectations around what is and isn’t possible within the space.


John Powers, Alliance for Sustainable Colorado
At the Alliance Center in Denver, tenants are required to pay for space modifications. The amount may be tempered by the length of lease agreement executed – the long the lease, we, the landlord, may bear some of the costs, whether soft (designs, engineering, etc.) or hard (tangible materials). We don’t use a formula. We assess costs by getting competitive bids. We also reserve the right to approve designs and materials, particularly because the Center is LEED certified and we neither want to jeopardize the certification nor end up with pink Leopard spots for carpeting or wall paint.


Kim McNamer, Deschutes Children’s Foundation
Keep in mind…we are an organization who does not charge rent or a property management fee. We have a use fee for each partner that covers basic CAMs and is figured by their square footage, but it isn’t an actual lease.Typically, when a new partner is moving in and they request a redesign, new paint, new carpet, etc., we work with them to ensure whatever they want done meets our standards, but they are on the hook for paying for/or getting in kind services for all the work. We will help them by getting competitive bids if they don’t have any connections or by putting them in touch with those we have worked with in the past.I have learned over the last few years that this can be a gray area for us, so we typically do things on a case by case basis. An example of when we share costs is in regards to classrooms with preschool kids. There is more wear and tear on those rooms and we typically will pay for half of the cost to replace carpet if needed. We had a request for AC from one of our partners this year. We received got the bids and options, discussed them with them and suggested the one we thought was most cost effective. It was going to impact our administrative offices, so we split the cost with them. For new carpeting in the common areas and conference rooms, we pay. If they want to paint their office because they are bored with the color, they must go through us, request permission to paint, show us the paint color they are wanting, we ask a few questions about who is doing the work and then we remind them to do it right, mask and should anything get ruined, paint spilled on carpet, etc. they are responsible for the repair/replacement costs. One program needed a special AC unit to help keep their vaccine fridge opportunity at appropriate temperatures. This affects their program only. We got the bids, ordered the work that needed to be done and then billed them for entire project.Our rule of thumb has been that we are responsible for all things outside their offices and classrooms and they are responsible for everything inside. Meaning, they are to leave it as they found it, get permission if they want to change it, but then all costs associated with changing it inside their space is their responsibility.


Pam Mauk, Together Center
Our standards are about the same as Kim’s. Over our 25 year history, we have sometimes handled buildouts at critical junctures when we needed to move forward on space, but typically we handle preparing what is in place with new paint always and new carpet if needed and any buildouts are handled by tenants, including architectural work, permits and construction. We need to approve any changes, but have tenants sign that they are responsible for any permits and impacts from their work.We have handled the payment of contractors on occasion, adding the cost of the buildout to the lease for reimbursement over time, or other negotiated payments.


Karen Maciorowski, The CT Nonprofit Center
I direct the CT Nonprofit Center and we partner with a nonprofit real estate development organization who owns and leases the space while we run the shared space/services/resources/collaboration.


We approached this in 2 ways:

1. The below market rate rent was raised $0.50 per sf and the funds were put into a pool of money to be used for planning configurations and for the construction as long as the organization signed a 3 year lease. Due to low financing rates, this was an achievable goal.

2. The State of CT provided us a grant for a collaborative project of which we use funds to plan and implement all data ports and configuration to the shared data closet. Additional funds are used for some build out costs as well.Once round 1 is complete (when our grant runs out April 2016) we will have to either raise additional funds OR charge new tenants as most commercial real estate organizations do. We do not have any inflators on the leases – once a lease is signed, it is the same rate for the period of the lease.


Dustin Barrington, HNS Life Center
We were very fortunate to have the services of an architect donated for our project in exchange for some naming rights. Free wasn’t always cheap, but “in kind” generally worked for us.We have built out about 40k sq ft in the last 18 months. The school of hard knocks has taught us to be clear and consistent throughout the entire communication process with tenants. We started off trying to accommodate everyone’s requests but found that some tenants were willing to spend money as long as it was ours… Reserving generosity for partners that are willing to shoulder their part of the burden seems to produce better results for us.

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