Designing for Equity

"In diversity there is beauty  and there is strength"

Maya Angelou

About our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion work

Difference is a reason for celebration  and growth

Our intentional engagement in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) work began in 2018 after participating in a DEI Experience Survey through our collaboration with ServeAustin and administered by Promise54. The DEI survey showcased a need for a dedicated focus on creating a culture within College Forward that celebrates diversity, designs for equity, and fosters inclusion. We began our work by establishing a DEI committee of cross-departmental team members. The committee identified that hiring a dedicated person leading DEI was essential for the sustainability and continued growth of our work. 

In October of 2019, College Forward hired its first DEI Manager, Sage Drennon. A majority of the beginning phases in our work included a landscape analysis, using data to inform thematic elements that were surfacing in the culture of College Forward. Sage was then able to identify and set forth a strategic approach to our work, rooted in three pillars:

  • Internal (the focus on ourselves and our individual identities)
  • Interpersonal (the way we engage with others and build our culture)
  • Institutional (examining policies/procedures/structures of our organization)

Today, we continue our work towards a more just and humane world. We recognize that while College Forward has been intentionally exploring DEI centric work for years, it has become incredibly apparent that our DEI work had not been focused on anti-racism work. We recognize that while we may be working to ensure that we build a DEI lens into the ethos of College Forward, we cannot truly achieve
Inclusive Excellence without also approaching our work with an actively anti-racist lens.

We celebrate diversity, design for equity, and foster inclusivity.

 It is not enough for College Forward to just be “not racist,” we must proactively form our culture to support anti-racism work.

We are committed to that work through the following ways:

Creating student programming and services that uplift the voices of students of color.

We are currently developing a blog series focusing on students of color at predominantly white institutions. Learn how you can get involved.

Establishing and implementing an organization-wide policy that supports rest for our team members during times of injustice – which includes time off for team members that does not require the use of PTO hours.

Developing an internal system to respond to bias incidents within College Forward, based on the Harvard Office of Diversity and Inclusion Bias-Related Incident Reporting and that of Washington University in St. Louis.

Partnering with healers from local communities of color to provide intentional restoration space for our black, indigenous, and people of color team members (BIPOC).

Our current engagement is with Scout Chavers, and we are still looking to connect with others. If you have someone in mind, please let us know.

Assessing the cultural development of our Leadership Team through the Intercultural Development Inventory to ensure the continued growth of intercultural learning for those who lead College Forward.

Utilizing a statement of Inclusive Leadership Values for our Leadership Team that they will uphold while leading at College Forward.

Working with social justice focused consultation teams to re-evaluate our policies, re-examine curriculum, and support team and individual cultural growth and learning.

We are currency working with Think Again Training, Sonya Kaleel, and the Inclusion NextWork.

If you’d like to work with us or know of a person or group that should be on our radar, drop us a line.

Committing our entire Resource Library budget to purchase books from BIPOC owned bookstores, like Black Pearl Bookstore, Monkey Wrench Books, and Resistencia Books here in Austin, TX, and prioritizing books written by BIPOC authors.

Committing two team members to participate in Inclusion NextWork Roundtables to support continued growth and learning of those who lead DEI work at College Forward

We share these commitments to reinforce our solidarity through action, to hold ourselves publicly accountable, and to share our journey with our nonprofit community who may find value in deploying similar strategies.