Since early 2017 our team has trained a wide variety of groups. We have also provided equity assessments, document/curriculum/materials review, and equity coaching. What difference is this work making in the lives of participants and the people they serve? We see equity as an ongoing process, not a place we can arrive. However, there are some things we can measure.
The initial outcomes from working with Equity Solutions are:
Better understanding of your own personal story and why your story matters in working for equity.
Increased ability to be vulnerable in sharing your story when it matters most.
Better understanding of the social and economic context that is impacting your workplace, your staff, your clients, and what you are trying to accomplish.
Increased ability to use that information to better shape your mission, vision, and goals.
Recognition of some of the biases and assumptions you have that are getting in the way of positive communication with co-workers and people you are serving, whether students, clients, or constituents.
Ability to interrupt those biases and assumptions and to recognize the importance of accountability in doing so.
Awareness that trauma, including historical/generational trauma, is impacting you and others around you.
Recognition of equity as an antidote to the injustices and inequity that we have talked about.
Knowledge of equitable actions you can take on a personal and interpersonal level, with regards to an organization’s policies and practices, and within a larger context
Commitment to taking at least one action. These are a few of the actions that people committed to:
Pay attention to my beliefs and assumptions
Use an equity lens when developing and editing communication materials
Instigate conversation in staff meetings to more clearly define equity
Policy review - are our benefits and policies equitable? Review training times of day: events, etc. to be sure all can attend
I will do daily check ins about my assumptions on my commute home.
See how we can move this dialogue into structural meetings and supervision
The results from our pre-training surveys compared to our post-training evaluations show that there is dramatic movement on these outcomes in just a few short hours.
From longer work with us through a second day session or through a consulting contract where we work on a specific project, you will begin to actualize these initial outcomes. For each group it will be different depending on what your goals are, how ready you are to make change, and how much buy-in there is.
Read through these examples of how groups that have worked with us are putting what they learn into practice…
ann Braden - “The Benefits of Being an octopus”
We worked with author Ann Braden on ensuring an equity lens in her educator’s guide and developing an equitable book talk for her book The Benefits of Being an Octopus. The book was released in the fall of 2018 and has made it onto NPR’s book of the year list! It touches on themes of rural white poverty, domestic violence, opioids, gun violence, and finding one’s voice.
Because of our work together Ann decided to center her book talks around the theme of encouraging kids to recognize the strengths of others and using their own strengths for change. The result has been overwhelmingly positive. In her book talks she is vulnerable about her own story, encouraging vulnerability in school audiences. She is also connecting every conversation to systems change, encouraging students to think beyond just what they can see and recognize that housing, transportation, labor, and support systems are making it hard for people to get by in a dignified way.
Read these thank you notes to see what students had to say after her school talk…
Ann also participated in Cross Class Dialogue Circles and had this to say, “For me, the Cross Class Dialogue Circle laid out how much we all have in common, no matter how much money a person has. It laid out the ways the system we're in intentionally divides us, making it all the more important to be willing to be vulnerable so that we can connect at a human level. Because then we can act in solidarity to help people get what they need.” She wrote an article for the local newspaper - check it out.
Ann is an incredible author and person and it was an honor to work with her and to support her in refining her lens.
KIndle FArm School
Over a period of a few months in 2018 the Equity Solutions team worked with staff and teachers at Kindle Farm School in Newfane, VT, on better understanding how poverty and economic inequality are impacting their students and the school. We also looked at how gender and class impact each other and can make it complicated to respond equitably. This school has a huge heart and an amazing capacity to support boys who struggle in typical public school classrooms.
We checked in 6 months later. The staff at Kindle Farm School have been busy! They rewrote their social studies curriculum to include diverse families, labor movements, and the economic context that led to WWII. They redesigned their family visit day to be more interactive rather than entertaining, so that families could learn what their kids were learning about diverse families. They have intentionally and creatively addressed racial slurs, gender-biased jokes, and class-biased comments. They have paid close attention to who they are hiring and into what positions to intentionally create a leadership body that is race-, class-, and gender-diverse. And so much more! This is a group that has really taken the learning from the trainings and put it into practice.
Mount Ascutney Prevention Coalition
In 2017 we began working with the Mt. Ascutney Prevention Partnership and Ascutney Mountain Promise Community to train staff and coalition partners from these two organizations and their counterparts from around Windsor and northern Windham counties. We first provided a day-long training on poverty in an unequal economy and set equity goals. We then worked with staff, partners, and key stakeholders through surveys and key interviews to put together a community engagement template. This 43-page template provides practical resources and advice for authentic and connected engagement with community members, supporting Prevention Coalition and Promise Communities staff to go beyond their usual approaches and to think outside the box about how to make lasting change in their communities. We then facilitated a day-two training on how to implement the engagement plan, including a community mapping exercise and action planning. The entire training and consulting program took 9 months from start to finish, and participants learned valuable lessons for actualizing community engagement across race and class barriers.
They are putting what they learn into practice! Here are just a few examples of how they are increasing their community engagement:
The community health teams mapped out where they want to reach people with their annual survey so that the survey responses are not just going out via email. They then took the surveys to where people are. The result is the largest and most diverse survey response for all 5 Dartmouth-ffiliated hospitals.
They worked with a local youth center to put on LGBTQ social events, and the result is that these were the most successful events the center put on all year. They received more funding to hire a community outreach staff person who is working with the LGBTQ community.
The Promise Communities created parent advisor teams to give feedback on grant applications and to plan programs. They were able to put together an economically diverse team and they found funding to pay a stipend to the participants who are considered consultants.
The Prevention team built a time into their bi-weekly meetings to talk about how to integrate community engagement into all they do.
We will check in again in 6 months to find out how all of these initiatives are strengthening families and the community.
Windham County prevention coalition, VT
In summer 2018 we consulted with the Windham County Prevention Coalition on marijuana outreach materials and on an Active Parenting guide for parents of LGBTQ youth. Impact update coming soon!
Greenwich Country DAy SChool, CT
In February 2018 the Equity Solutions team facilitated 3 workshops at the Equity and Justice conference - Mosaic of Belonging - at the Greenwich Country Day School in CT. Impact update coming soon!