SAMPLE: cityWILD Inclusiveness Blueprint

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CityWILD Blueprint for Inclusiveness 2008

 

Introduction

cityWILD has been serving middle school youth and their families in Northeast Denver for over seven years. The impetus for creating the organization was the recognition that outdoor experiential leadership education, and its numerous directly associated components (environmental sciences, social skills, professional development, etc.), were almost exclusively available to white, anglo, affluent youth and adults. cityWILD founders felt so strongly that this highly effective field needed to be made universally available to all youth, especially youth-of-color and low-income youth. To this end, the three founders identified the communities currently served as an ideal starting point to changing the status quo.

Inherent in this proposition was the unavoidable dynamic of outsiders coming in to a community that was racially, ethnically, and economically different from the life experience of the founders. From the start, this challenge was recognized, and all subsequent planning, program development, and implementation was guided by the notion that the organization needed to address this issue on an ongoing basis, until "community ownership" could be realized. This was defined as an organization led by staff and board members representative of the community served, programs designed with constituent input and oversight, to meet the needs of the youth and families. From the start, there has been a significant gap between the reality and the ideal.

The emergence of the Denver Foundation's Expanding Nonprofit Inclusiveness Initiative was the perfect opportunity for cityWILD staff and board to seize the moment and leverage the resources available to make greater strides towards community ownership. cityWILD's priorities in this effort were focused on:

  • Creating a venue or mechanisms for stakeholder voice to influence the design and practices of the organization and its programs.
  • Create an environment where all people, regardless of race, ethnicity, socio-economic status, gender orientation, and age/maturity, feel welcome and embraced.
  • Develop language and tools to address issues of racism, intra-ethnic conflict, economic disparity, and ageism.
  • Empower youth to be change agents with the skills and experience to tackle the above.

To these ends, cityWILD established an Inclusiveness Committee (IC) made up of board and staff to manage this process. The IC developed a definition and case statement regarding inclusiveness. Stakeholders were identified, and several different means were devised to gather information effectively to guide the process.

Data Gathering

The IC identified the follow groups as critical constituents, and the following means to solicit their views and opinions:

  • Youth Currently Active in Programming - two focus groups were held, facilitated by a third party with bilingual English-Spanish capacity, one at each current Afterschool Program site.
  • Youth Alum - anonymous online surveys were employed with multiple choice and open-ended questions and cash incentives for responding.
  • Families of Current Participants - home visits or neutral location meetings were facilitated by a third party with bilingual English-Spanish capacity, including a survey and open-ended discussion.
  • Families of Alumni Students-on-line surveys and in person interviews by a third party were available in both Spanish and English to meet the needs of this survey group.
  • Stakeholders - a variety of individuals associated with the organization (school staff, donors, sponsors, foundation staff, service providers, state agency representatives, partner organizations, competitors, etc.) were queried using an anonymous online survey with multiple choice and open-ended questions.
  • Board - anonymous online surveys were employed with multiple choice and open-ended questions for all current board members.
  • Staff and volunteers - anonymous online surveys were employed with multiple choice and open-ended questions for all current and former staff, interns, and volunteers.

In addition, demographic data specific to the community and population served was gathered from existing sources and this information will be included in the final blueprint for inclusiveness.

Key Findings from Information Gathering

The primary focus on information gathering was on race and ethnicity, then secondarily on socio-economic status. Other issues were saved for a later date. Summaries of each constituent group are included in the appendix. More detailed raw data is also available. The following trends and red flags emerged and guided the development of the Blueprint for Inclusiveness:

Youth - Most program participants felt that the organization was very welcoming, supportive, and accepting on most levels. Race or skin color was practically a non-issue where differences were respected and appreciated, and did not affect delivery of services or practices. Ethnicity or cultural differences were identified as an issue with language (Spanish) being the primary concern. Some youth felt that staff did not accept common language that was normal for their cultural, socio-economic, or familial background. Intra-racial tension was revealed, specifically between Latinos and African Americans. Language appears to have been a key factor in instigating this tension, as non-Spanish speaking students became suspicious when they cannot understand dialogue between students. Alumni mention issues that have been addressed recently (hiring of Spanish speaking staff, employment of part-time field instructors who are people of color.

Families - The biggest flag that came out of interviews was the lack of understanding of the depth and breadth of services offered by cityWILD. It appears that many parents don't read letters sent home (in both English and Spanish), and instead rely on their children to relay to them what the program does. Some parents were excited to learn about services available (family support, financial education, etc.) that their children had not mentioned or were not yet aware of being offered. Many could not list three things that cityWILD does. Most families expressed that race was not an issue, and many were confused by the nature of the questions in the survey, fearful of giving an "incorrect" answer. Many families struggled with the terminology (ex. people of color). The fact that cityWILD's staff is all white was also a non-issue. Some were very appreciative of the recent addition of Spanish speaking staff. Families did express appreciation for the opportunity for their kids to get out and try new things, get exposed to new people, and have to learn to interact with cultures different from their own.

Stakeholders - Responses were as varied as the array of those surveyed. Most did not see cityWILD as exclusive, but many felt that the issue of having an all white staff was problematic. Some had only partial understanding of the services and programs offered. Many expressed the importance of leadership education, financial education, and other general life skills over environmental and outdoor education. The large volume of data, and variety of responses will require more detailed analysis, at a later date.

Board - Discussion at the board level was often intense, with varied opinions. While most board members scored in the "Approaching Inclusiveness" range, there was often mixed opinions on the degree to which issues of hidden racism and white privilege played in the current board. All agreed that they were excited to delve deeper into the discussion.

Staff -  Overall, much of the information provided by staff and former staff surround better pay and increased trainings and workshops to educate staff on how be more inclusive. All staff agree; there is a need to have people of color represented within the organization and many staff identified poor/limited hour and pay as deterrent to communities of color.

Plan for 2007 Areas of Focus

The IC chose to be selective in targeting areas which data suggested merit the most immediate attention, and can be realistically addressed, as follows:

Organizational Culture

cityWILD's origins lie in an established field that is overwhelmingly white, anglo, affluent, and typically male. Recognizing that this embedded culture was brought into the community with the introduction of cityWILD programs, the IC supports ongoing efforts to create a new culture of outdoor leadership that is indigenous and grassroots.

Goal: cityWILD will foster an environment of empowerment to facilitate youth creation of a program culture that is uniquely reflective of their individual backgrounds, expressed collectively.

Outcomes: Youth, as measured by end of the year focus groups, will be able to cite cultural qualities in program that they can personally identify with that are representative of their respective cultures.

Objectives: Between January and May 2007, adult staff and youth leaders will actively facilitate discussions on culture to identify qualities important to individuals and supported by the group.

Tasks: schedule a progression of discussions in the Afterschool Program to start down this path. Prepare youth leaders to facilitate discussion. Support youth leaders on designated days with adults playing a more passive role.

Program Delivery and the Learning Environment

Recognizing the diversity of learning styles, and the impact of an imposed learning environment with a style that is foreign to students, cityWILD will foster an environment that edifies individual learning characteristics and meets both individual and group needs.

Goal: Implement programming that is multicultural in approach and content to create a learning environment that is racially and ethnically inclusive.

Outcome: Students will feel that they can be themselves, as they would in an environment that is exclusively their race or ethnicity and feel like they have the opportunity to share their culture with other students in the program.

Objective: By May 2007, students will demonstrate comfort in expressing their cultural identity and appreciation for other cultural norms.

Tasks: Initiate a dialogue on intra-racial understanding and appreciation, led by youth leaders and staff.

Public Perception and Marketing

Many constituents expressed only partial or inaccurate representations of cityWILD's programs and service. cityWILD cannot be effective, nor can it fully realize the potential of community support, if it does not convey an accurate picture of the organization and its many capabilities.

Goal: To clearly articulate the mission, vision, and values of the organization, and the breadth and depth of services.

Outcome: Students, Parents, and other community stakeholders will have a clear understanding of who cityWILD is.

Objective: By August 2007, cityWILD will have produced a variety of materials and tactics for ongoing public education and marketing of programs and services.

Tasks: Identify gaps in understanding. Develop coordinated strategies to fill gaps. Design tactics to meet strategic goals. Launch campaign in August 2007 with the beginning of the new school year.

Personnel

The likely hiring pool for cityWILD staff and volunteer positions is reflective of the outdoor industry ~ overwhelmingly white, anglo, affluent, and male. cityWILD recognizes that it cannot be truly effective if staff, who serve as role models for youth, are not representative of the students and families served.

Goal: To develop an ongoing staff training program that draws in members of the community to consider the field as a viable professional option and/or recreational interest.

Outcome: cityWILD has at least two candidates for staff positions in program who are local and representative of the students and families served.

Objective: By fall 2007, two to six individuals who identify as people of color and/or low-income individuals are participating in cityWILD programs as paid staff or volunteers.

Task: Bring in an intern to develop and initiate the program with the help of cityWILD Program Director and other staff.

Status Update on Plans for 2008 Areas of Focus

Mission and Organizational Values

Throughout the inclusiveness process cityWILD's mission did not change, however there have been some changes in organizational values. Going through the inclusiveness process, cityWILD has placed a greater emphasis on incorporating inclusiveness in all aspects of programming and the organization. cityWILD's organizational identity is evolving into an becoming a social change organization rather than simply a service agency.

Similar to changes in organizational values, the organizational culture of cityWILD has also evolved into placing a greater emphasis on inclusiveness. cityWILD staff is more mindful in thinking critically about programming, funding, and the office environment. The inclusiveness initiative taught cityWILD staff to question privilege and to be more aware of its presence and impact in our service delivery.

Board of Directors

Since participating in the Inclusiveness Initiative, cityWILD has purposely been seeking to create a Board of Directors that is reflective of the community with whom we work. One of the successes has been the addition of five new board members along with the transition to a new Board President. Two are African American; one is an out lesbian who has broad experience working with LGBTQ youth; another is a bi-lingual children's advocate who has experience as a classroom teacher in the neighborhood cityWILD serves has given her an invaluable understanding of the community; another has expertise in the areas of board development, strategic planning, fundraising/development, and activism in inclusiveness work.

Fundraising

As a result of participating in the Inclusiveness Initiative, cityWILD is examining its approach to fundraising. Rather than relying on the Executive Director, or the Board of Directors to be the organization's sole fundraiser, cityWILD is considering a team approach, which will include all staff in aspects of fundraising. cityWILD is  also exploring alternative funding sources; for example looking within the community cityWILD services and finding way to be less reliant on grants, and finding funding that is sustainable.

Appendix

The following are summaries of each data gathering target group's responses. They were compiled by different members of the IC over the last two years, which means they are not uniform in style, but each effectively captures the common themes, and identifies red flags or noteworthy anomalies.

 

Current Participants Focus Groups

Purpose of Focus Group Interviews and Method: Two focus group interviews were conducted in November 2006, with the purpose of providing insight to cityWILD staff about how youth experience cityWILD program activities, especially in relation to their race, language, traditions, and where they live. The focus group interviews included youth participants of cityWILD after-school and outdoor program activities. One focus group was conducted at Bruce Randolph Middle School, which was made-up of Hispanic students, six girls and one boy. The other focus group was conducted at Wyatt-Edison Middle School, which included Hispanic and African-American students; three Junior Leaders, two middle school boys, and ten middle school girls. Student's responses to the following questions informed the findings of this report:

  • How do you feel when you are in programming?
  • Describe your experience with staff when it comes to differences between you and the staff in language, skin color, traditions, and in the things you do at home or where you live?
  • How do you feel people treat you on the cityWILD trips because of your language, the color of your skin or where you live?

Findings

How do you feel when you are in programming? Students feel a sense of safety, trust and confidence in talking to staff about their problems. Students generally enjoy being in the program and expressed learning various new things from staff.

Typical comments by these students included:

  • "It is like one big family, directing you inspiring you, teaching new things."
  • "You could actually trust them and they won't tell anybody"
  • "I feel safe in the program because I know that they are watching over us."
  • "I feel secured...I feel safe and that no one is going to hurt me or anything, and think that I have someone to talk to when I have a problem."
  • "Every time I walk out I learn something new."

 

Describe your experience with staff when it comes to differences between you and the staff in language, skin color, traditions, and in the things you do at home or where you live?

 

Language Differences:  Students view their language as an aspect of their identity, which they often change to be understood by their peers and adults around them. Students have difficult experiences among their peers within and outside of cityWILD programs, as well as, with cityWILD staff in relation to differences in language. Within their interactions with cityWILD staff, students are corrected on the use and pronunciation of words, which they recognize as helpful but also perceive as an attempt to change how they speak. Across focus group interviews, bilingual Spanish speaking student's experience conflict among monolingual English speaking students when they speak in Spanish.

Typical comments by these students included:

  • "I think it is nice to say you said a word wrong and correct you, but at the same time they do not need to be rude about it and be like, No you don't say it like that!" "Trying to change the way you talk."
  • "That is o.k that they are trying to help you pronounce your words differently and right, but if that is how you were raised that is how you are going to talk."
  • "My language expresses how I am and who I am."
  •  "I try to slow it down and change it up and talk like normal people and try to become accustomed to them so they can understand me." "I sometimes feel bad because it's not me being me, I have to talk different just for people to understand me."
  • "Sometimes when we speak in Spanish, and people that do not understand Spanish think we are talking bad stuff." "They start to tell other people to not hang out with us." "It makes me feel bad inside, because they do not know Spanish other than English and they should ask us if we are talking about them and not just say things about us."

Differences between Students and Staff Related to Skin Color:  Students did not perceive that they were being treated differently because of the color of their skin by staff or by others around them in cityWILD programs. Students felt they were being treated similarly to other students in the program and that the way they were treated was more closely tied to who they are as a person, rather than the color of their skin.

Typical comments by these students included:

  • "They treat me the same." "If they do something for someone else that is not the same race as you they will do it for you to."
  • "They don't treat us how we look, but how we are inside how we feel, none of us treat each other badly because that is mean to do."
  • "They do not judge us by our color or how we look on the outside, they judge us by how we are from the inside."
  • "They treat us all the same there is no difference between us."

A Paradox in Attitudes toward Racist Behavior:  Students were empathetic of other youth that had experienced various forms of racism and held a strong conviction against it. Within this perspective, students also commented extensively on the dynamics that exist internally within their interactions with friends and family and how those at times can be interpreted as negative by people outside of their racial peer group. One student related the use of derogatory terminology within her peer group or family as a cultural component. Similarly, some students did not perceive the use of derogatory terms like the use of the "N" word or "Beaner" in a negative context within their peer racial group, however did recognize it as derogatory when utilized by someone else outside of their racial group toward them.  

Typical comments by these students included:

  • "With other kids sometimes here and sometimes in school, but I will stick with here. Sometimes they call Mexicans "Beaner" or call Black people...just call them a word that I can't say. I just get mad because it does not have to do with your skin color."
  • "My friend does not speak English very well; some people make fun of her." "People sometimes people might say she talks like a Chinese person, it makes me feel bad."
  • "It should not be right for anybody to be saying the "N" word. If you check-up on your background you would not be saying it at all, like to the point to where it does not just stay within the African-American community....If they (Hispanics) check on their history or background they would not be calling themselves that either. Stereotypes are not cool."
  • "The "N" word is a bad word if you are not an "N", cause if you are not an "N" it should not come out of your mouth, it will be a bad word. Just like if you say "Beaner" and you are not a Mexican opps a Hispanic person, when it's your own race you can say "Beaner" or "N". If you are not an "N", than you should not be saying "N" or "Beaner" if you are not a Hispanic person.
  • "Talking to family or friend and saying the "N" word, maybe because where I come from it has been used a bunch of times and maybe the staff does not understand how I might use the "N" word, they would be like apologize right now."
  • "My friends be talking like "Beaner", I do not say nothing because we are from the same race, but if someone that is not from the same race calls you something like that you would be mad."

 

Differences Regarding Traditions:  Students did not have specific comments on differences regarding classic traditions like ceremonies, rituals, or events related to their culture and those of staff.

 

Themes

  • Students feel safe in cityWILD programs and are learning a variety of things related to outdoor and after school program activities however they have experienced difficult situations with cityWILD staff and their peers as it relates to their use of language; an important aspect of their identity.
  • Students feel that they are treated the same as other students in the program by staff regardless of their skin color and that differences do not exist among them.
  • Despite their overall opposition to racism, students perceived the use of derogatory racial terms within their racial peer group as more acceptable than if the same derogatory terms were said by someone outside of their racial group.

 

Overall Recommendations

  • Create learning opportunities for students and staff to gain a broader awareness of racism and the various forms in which it manifests; including the negative impacts of using derogatory racial terms under any circumstances.
  • Create opportunities for students and staff to talk more about their respective cultural experiences.
  • Create opportunities for students to share more about themselves as it relates to their language, culture, and interpersonal dynamics within their families and friends.

Families of Current Participants

Parents of participating students were interviewed by an outside consultant to gather their thoughts about how inclusive cityWILD is in its culture, programs, and service delivery. These interviews are in the process of being reviewed and summarized. A few initial themes are highlighted, however a more comprehensive summary will be provided once all the interviews have been reviewed and analyzed.

Preliminary Themes:

  • According to the consultant conducting the interviews, respondents consistently did not understand the term "person of color," when asked whether they identified as a person of color. Respondents nearly all responded by saying that "color does not matter," and that they had never thought about the fact that cityWILD has an all white staff. Some respondents referred to the importance of their children learning how to interact with people from different backgrounds. A common theme from all the families' interview is that skin color does not affect the value of cityWILD's programs.
  • A lack of information about cityWILD's culture and its breadth of services also came up as a theme. It appears that many respondents did not feel informed enough to answer specific questions about programs and services. Several respondents indicated that they did not realize cityWILD is comprised of an all-white staff.
  • Overall respondents appear to be happy with staff interactions, programs offered and grateful for their children's experiences with cityWILD and did not make a connection to the importance of skin color and quality leadership within the program.

Alumni Participants

Alumni youth report being consistently satisfied with cityWILD's services and programs. In most cases these respondents, who are all youth of color (although one does not identify that way,) report that the race and income level of staff is not an issue. Similar to the parents of alumni youth, these respondents did not indicate that having "role models who look like them" is their top priority. Yet when we asked specific questions regarding race, the youth did acknowledged the importance of having people of color on staff. The alumni students unanimously emphasized the value of the activities and services cityWILD offered and identified leadership, information about colleges, and having staff who they trusted and could talk with as the most meaningful aspects of their experiences.

Themes:

  • The respondents do not seem to not have strong feelings about race with regards to programs and trips. When asked specifically they indicate that it would be a good idea to have staff of color, stating that sometimes it's easier to talk to people who look like you. At the same time they all express loyalty to the program and the staff and identify staff as one of the things they would not change about the program..
  • One student did identify students making racist jokes as a problem during cityWILD trips. This same student, along with the other respondents denied neither experiencing any racism from the staff nor encountering racism while on cityWILD trips or adventures.

 

 

Families of Alumni Participants

Overall it seems families have been happy with cityWILD services and are grateful that they exist. Many of the respondents report race is not an issue and did not overwhelmingly put youth having "role models who look like them" as their top priority. Yet when asked specific questions regarding race, most of the respondents acknowledged the importance of having people of color on staff. It seems that many of the respondents are accepting of an all white staff, which makes the staff at cityWILD wonder if this is an example of institutional racism. That perhaps our families are so accustomed to white individuals providing services they don't question it, or perhaps families are complacent for fear of rocking the boat (particularly in the Latino communities when they have to deal with legal immigration status.)  It is possible that contradictions in their responses demonstrate this. e.g., not wanting to change the current staff, but agreeing that it's important to have staff of color, and then reporting that race is not an issue. Other notable themes include that fact that families do not seemed well informed about the breadth of services cityWILD offers. It seems focusing on making sure families are better informed about services and programs, incorporating discussions/lessons that include race, culture and anti-racism trainings, along with finding ways to hire staff of color are important ways to address inclusiveness.

Themes:

  • Parents and families do not seem well informed about the breadth of our services. Outside of after-school programs and trips it seems many families do not have information about cityWILD. As a result they did not have answers for many questions regarding programs, services, and how we deliver these services. In addition they seemed content with what cityWILD is offering and had few feelings about the way we provide services to youth of color or how their children experience our programs. It seems important to wonder if families were more informed about cityWILD's programs whether their feelings about the organization would change.
  • Suggestions for hiring staff of color include improving marketing strategies by targeting minority owned personnel companies and organizations.
  • Respondents consistently indicated that the programs cityWILD offers benefit youth of color and low-income youth, regardless that there is an all white staff who are not from the community they are serving. Responses include statements such as cityWILD activities

"broaden their experience in many cases. They learn to enjoy the outdoors and feel comfortable in that environment.".

"I think it is important for children from low-income families to participate. For the most part, you rarely find that people from low income families rarely know or do any kind of activities the CityWILD offers. I think it was a wonderful opportunity for my child to learn these skills through CityWILD. Now my child has a lot of knowledge about the environment and has learned to Ski, White water rafting ect. My child will take these skills and teach his children. He would have never learned or experienced any of these things without cityWILD."

 

 

Stakeholders

According to the surveys, the respondents overwhelmingly identified that offering outdoor activities to low-income youth and youth of color is important. The respondents stated that these activities broaden their level of experience with the environment as well as providing opportunities for personal growth. It was also noted that cityWILD's programs and activities are relevant to youth of color and low-income youth because "they are out of the participants' normal realm of experience. Through pushing the limits of the participants, they have a chance to learn many new things."  Yet consistent themes identified throughout the surveys included a lack of understanding about the programs, the lack of diversity on staff and board, and a lack of culturally sensitive curriculum. These gaps were identified as barriers to becoming a more inclusive organization.

Themes

  • Suggestions made to assist cityWILD in becoming more inclusive include involving people of color in the decision making and planning within the organization, having Board representatives who are from the community and are people of color, and having policies and organization culture that are conducive to people from the community. According to respondents, issues around white privilege are probably a significant factor with participants of color; ways to address this might include visiting other inner city programs that are successful to learn from them.
  • Respondents also implied that there is a lack of understanding about cityWILD services and programs and encouraged the organization to educate its community. Some stakeholders believe many people are unaware of what services are being offered and why. The respondents suggested the importance of conveying the message that cityWILD isn't going to "make people of color feel bad because we don't hike, camp or kayak."  Concerns were expressed about making people feel like "they can't participate in activities if they don't have the right equipment."  Since cityWILD offers free programming along with all the necessary equipment for each activity or trip, it is apparent that appropriate marketing is a barrier.
  • A consistent theme across several survey groups was stressing the importance of partnering with other culturally-specific organizations that provide services to targeted populations such as the African-American community, the Latino community, or the Asian community.
  • Suggestions were made to put more of youth of color in charge of providing services to people of color. A common theme is to engage people of color at their level, i.e., "if they want to go fishing instead of rafting, support them in that.". One respondent emphasized the importance of recognizing that racism and classism have separated urban people of color from nature. Additional suggestions included outreaching families of color, using familiar language (i.e. staying away form terms such as "eco-friendly,) and talking to people from the community to understand their needs, and tailoring programs to meet families "where they are at."  Respondents indicated that families may need to be gradually introduced to the outdoors and require activities that meet their needs based on gender, fitness level, or language.
  • Barriers for hiring staff of color or low-income staff included the perception that a candidate would need a high level of outdoor experience and technical equipment, which can be costly. Therefore the suggestion was made that employment at cityWILD may be associated with individuals coming from a high income bracket. Questions were also raised about the qualifications for staff and whether it was truly necessary for staff to have a college degree or if someone from the community, with a different set of skills could be equally qualified to work for cityWILD.
  • There were discrepancies in whether respondents thought it was critical for cityWILD to have staff of color. Some suggestions were made that if staff invested in learning more about the youth and "really connecting to the youth," the youth could learn "trust and sharing," and race becomes less of an issue. Along with this perspective, some respondents emphasized that "understanding," is the greatest issue; suggesting that if staff spend time in the communities they are working and "understand the culture, lifestyle, and home situations," cityWILD would be more effective at community development. In contrast, when the survey results were filtered for respondents who identified as people of color, the importance of youth having "role models who look like them," nearly doubled from 33% to 62%.

 

Board of Directors

According to the survey, 100% of the Board members who completed the survey view cityWILD as an organization "primarily welcoming of diverse cultures/languages/and income levels."  However, there were consistent themes among the survey results about the importance of having people of color on staff in addition to having native Spanish speakers who are also able to "really understand the consequences of racism and its symptoms on communities of color."

Themes:

One of the major concerns reflected in the survey is the idea that there is a misperception about qualified individuals of color to fill positions in an outdoor youth-serving agency. Board members seem to believe one of the major barriers to hiring staff of color is cityWILD's method for marketing employment opportunities. Some Board members suggest changing the way cityWILD markets employment opportunities so that "people of color see it as a viable career opportunity and not just a nonprofit or youth serving charity."  Another theory Board member suggest is the idea that people of color view outdoor activities as purely recreational so there may be few perceived connects between employment, educational value and outdoor activities.

Barriers Board members identify for people of color or low-income individuals who may be considering employment at cityWILD include a changing work schedule that includes weekends and travel at times. "Low income individuals may not be able to afford childcare if necessary to accommodate work schedule/demands."  Additionally, since there are currently no people of color on staff, one Board member suggested this may prevent people of color from wanting to work with cityWILD due to expectations that they will have to "carry disproportionate burden for facilitating relationships with service recipients (i.e. interpreting, translating, organizing, communicating.)  Because fulfilling this role can be exhausting, it was suggested that it could make working at cityWILD unappealing for people of color.

Additional suggestions to make cityWILD a more inclusive organization include the following:

  • Adapting and "anti-oppression" analysis model, suggesting that "low-income people and people of color are inclined to work in the sector [and serve on the Board] at the direct service level often have political and/or social justice related motivations and would most likely find a stated critical analysis very attractive."
  • "Build partnerships with organizations that provide services and programming that compliment the current work of the staff allowing the staff to move beyond "all things to all people" model of engagement."
  • More effectively outreach people of color to attend fundraisers.
  • Offer on-going cultural and ant-racism trainings to help staff and Board understand privilege, non-inclusion, and to avoid status-quo method of service delivery.

Staff and Volunteers

Overall, much of the information provided by staff and former staff surround better pay and increased trainings and workshops to educate staff on how be more inclusive. All staff agree; there is a need to have people of color represented within the organization and many staff identified poor/limited hour and pay as deterrent to communities of color.

Interestingly, when various filters were applied to the surveys, it was discovered that the more critical feedback provided by individuals was dated. For example, the person who suggested having our documents translated (which has already been done) appears to not have been employed at the organization based on his or her reference to a previous office location. It may have been helpful to include a question that narrowed down the bracket of time a staff member worked. This would have been helpful in interpreting which stage an individual experienced cityWILD and giving greater perspective of how they saw the program based on what they experienced during that time.

Themes:

Several staff members cited pay as a deterrent for hiring people of color, along with limited positions, and primarily offering only part-time hours. Many recommendations were made about trainings and recruitments of people of color. Other barriers identified for hiring people of color and low-income individuals included the possibility that outdoor activities are perceived to be only for the "rich/wealthy," and that an all white staff may not be a welcoming environment for a candidate of color.

Other barriers identified that may interfere with cityWILD becoming an inclusive organization include a lack of relationships with communities of color and a need to better understand how non-white organizations operate in an effort to create a similar environment and similar culture. A suggestion was made to make sure everything cityWILD offers, from programming to applications are offered in Spanish.

Three different respondents suggested that cityWILD is not meeting the needs of communities of color and low-income communities, in addition to not being sensitive to how "minority youth," experience participating in outdoor trips lead by white staff, into a predominantly white atmosphere.

 

Focus Group Summary Bruce Randolph 2007

How do you feel when you are in programming?

Students feel as though they belong. Students stated they feel challenged by learning to respect others, listening to staff and participating in activities. Students expressed they would like more students to join the program but stated they feel like they are all friends. Students stated they did not like playing games outside or sitting on the grass and the games were sometimes boring. One student expressed that she/he felt safe in the program.

Describe your experience with staff when it comes to difference between you and the staff in language, skin color, traditions, and in the things you do at home or where you live?

Students stated they had not heard racist comments within cityWILD. One student stated he/she had received derogatory comments while outside of cityWILD. One student expressed he/she did not see the staff as different, except they are a little old. Students expressed they communicate well with staff and they felt the staff listen to their problems. One student expressed he/she could talk to the staff about problems because the staff may have experienced the same problem that he/she has experienced. The students stated they feel more comfortable talking with same sex staff members about problems.

How do you feel people treat you on cityWILD trips because of your language, the color of your skin or where you live?

Student expressed no one has ever said anything about his/her skin color, or where he/she lives. Students also expressed they all get along. Students conversed about their ideas about racism, including the KKK.

Students expressed they do not like to awake early on weekend adventure trips and do not get enough sleep. Students stated they did not like to play embarrassing games (such as teambuilding games) because they know the people at school and they would feel more comfortable playing teambuilding games on weekend adventure trips. Students suggested having an ice cream party part way through the year to increase attendance.

Students expressed they would like space when they are upset and for the staff members to talk with them after they have had time to cool down. Students stated they would like to abolish the rule about inner cityWILD dating and add more homework time. One student expressed he/she likes that the staff joke around with them.

 

Focus Group Summary Wyatt-Edison 2007

How do you feel when you are in programming?

The students reflected on their feelings during program. This included feeling of boredom, and a desire for different games.

Students expressed that they enjoyed adventure trips and activity days.

After probing, students did not have response to this question

Describe your experience with staff when it comes to difference between you and the staff in language, skin color, traditions, and in the things you do at home or where you live?

To this question, the students responded to aspects of the program they feel are unsatisfactory.

Students expressed they do not like the food served for snack. Students explained that it is different from food they are accustomed to eating in their homes. Students also expressed that they want to eat "outside" food in program. When ask a follow up question in regards to interactions with staff, students responded again that they are unsatisfied with the staff when they tell them not to eat outside food.

How do you feel people treat you on cityWILD trips because of your language, the color of your skin or where you live?

Some students expressed they felt that they were all treated equally. One student expressed that she/he felt the staff thinks the students are "ghetto." The student followed up with a story of a personal experience describing a time in which she felt the staff viewed her/him in this way. The example was in regards to the way in which the students dressed. One student expressed that he/she believe the staff "thinks we're from the east." The students associated the previous comment with the comment above in reference to being "ghetto." The conversation turned to aspects of the overnight trips the students don't like including: mixing with students from other schools and sharing a tent with a person they do not know. The students also expressed they would like to sleep more on the overnight trips and relax more. The students suggested they be allowed to relax more and play fewer games.

The students expressed they don't like the rule stating if a student leaves program they are not allowed to come back that same day, and they do not like the point system restricting them from attending adventure trips. Students expressed they do not like to always have the responsibility to be jr. leaders. Students expressed they do not like being separated from sitting with friends during homework time when they are laughing.

A student expressed that sometimes it feels that staff members do not listen to them when they are talking. Another student expressed that she felt the staff just wants to help "these" kids. Another student expressed she did not like the responsibility of being a jr. leader when she was ask to tell other students how to behave. Another student expressed that she/he feels supported by the staff member in program.

Students expressed they do not like the VOMP (Vent, Own, Moccasins, Plan) model. One student expressed that after the initial disagreement he/she does not like to speak to the person with which he/she is disagreeing.

One student expressed that he/she would like to see different rules regarding dish washing during overnight trips, including making sure the staff do their dishes, and a suggestion that the staff do all of the dishes.

One student expressed he/she does not like time-outs. Another student expressed that sometimes that is the only way a student will listen. The students suggested that classmates that do not want to partake in program should not attend.

 

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