The Award values diversity, inclusivity, access and equipping young people for life. But what sort of life can that be when challenged by implicit biases that we all carry, which inform our actions? Where these structures and our personal assumptions remain unexamined, we still label and discriminate.
In early June 2020, we joined calls for justice across the Across the United States: In all 27 states where we are active; in the metro areas where we are deeply rooted, including Chicago, New York City, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Houston; and in the suburbs and small towns where the Award is undertaken. At that time, based on the Awardâ€™s enduring values, we shared a solidarity statement and a commitment to take a deep look at our practices internally and externally:
The Award was founded on a deep belief in the power of young people. Time and again, youth have been at the forefront of movements for justice and equality. Award USA stands united with them against the systemic and institutionalized racism that has plagued our country for centuries. We are committed to doing our part as Black Lives Matter.
Since that time, we have continued to hold diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility (DEIA) trainings and discussions. Weâ€™ve sought out personally, and as an agency, information to challenge and expand our thinking.
Though much work remains, hereâ€™s what weâ€™ve accomplished in the last six months.
Updates on Racial Justice Work
- Training on DEIA:Â Attended over 50 webinars, trainings, and DEIA sessions. Additionally, held internal DEIA topical staff gathering/training bimonthly.
- Recruitment/Retention staff:Â Updated our EEOC statement, and further refined steps of our recruitment and hiring process.
- Professional Development:Â Funded DEIA training for staff. In addition, added critical mentoring sessions to new staff onboarding and training at Award USA.
- Board Growth: Approved by the Governing Board of Award USA growth to 12 members from eight and recruiting further diversity in candidates in 2021
- Continuing to Publish Diversity Statistics:Â Participant diversity included in annual Impact Report and planning is underway forÂ doingÂ soÂ withÂ BoardÂ &Â staff workforce.
- CommunicationsÂ Reflect Enrollment:Â Showing balanced presentation of the Award, diversity in imagery, and lowering emphasis on Adventurous Journey.
- Held Gen Z/Gen Disrupted Conversation: Engaged in high profile event Oct 2020, with HRH The Earl of Wessex KG GCVO interviewed by Nicholas Johnson, discussing racial justice, climate change and other issues of activism and challenge for this generation. This and an earlier Roundtable with 12 young people shared insights into how the Award is helping this generation meet the challenges of the day. Activism and engaging in community betterment were some of the themes raised by these engaged and diverse participants.
- Launched the Michaeyla Nadeau Memorial Scholarship Fund: In a continuance of our commitment to the Award being available to all regardless of circumstance, a memorial fund in honor of Michaeyla Nadeau was launched in 2020. This formalizes the process of offering and to date granting 100% of requests for financial support to register or undertake the Award since our launch. 75 Awards were made in FY20 (04/19-03/20) and more continue to be made this year. The Award remains committed to being available to all regardless of income.
As we look ahead, we commit to further efforts.
Award USA DEIA Statement and Aims 2021
We stand for racial justice. We stand for not only every young person getting a fair start, but for them feeling celebrated and cherished in the Award Family. We stand for building resilience and connection to community.
As an organization we commit to continue work already underway to evolve our understanding of implicit bias and strive to be an anti-racist agency. We intend to examine and continue to improve our hiring and retention practices to further attract diverse staff, consultants and vendors, retaining them as an integral part of our team. We will continue to build our recruitment process to our Governing Board so that it results in further diversity.
We commit to continuing to work with our young people who are racial minorities, ethnic minorities, low income or living with a disability, which constitute over 55% of young people active with the Award.Â We seek to continue also to grow the percent of young people engaging in the Award who are living with low income, currently 13% of our participants, with a goal of mirroring the current US poverty rates in this age group of 20% within the next five years. This will include proactive outreach and accessing available funds as we focus on recruiting Award Centers. Further work is being considered in to create a transparent dashboard of our diversity and inclusion goals.
A spirit of activism enlivens Generation Disrupted/Gen Z. The Award will strive to promote ways to earn the Award while engaging in activism on topics important to and chosen by young people. Peaceful, meaningful change actions will be promoted by Award USA. Referrals will be an area of focus in this work, connecting young people to well-grounded and researched activism resources.
Further, young people coming to the Award from various backgrounds can be less familiar, comfortable or under resourced for outdoor endeavors. The staff and volunteers of Award USA commit to adhere to the essence of Adventurous Journey â€“ promoting an experience in a small group in an unfamiliar environmentÂ â€“ while ensuring that resources from financial to equipment are not a barrier to participation, that flexibility is maintained for personal and ethnic/cultural considerations and that safety is assured for participants. This might mean incorporating Adventurous Explorations, Independent AJâ€™s, and even virtual AJâ€™s, as well as new communication approaches, all options currently being piloted and offered in 2020.
We look forward to partnering with you, our Award community, for insights, feedback and support, as we continue these efforts.