Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Last Updated 4/22/2021

To meet the promise of our mission, Chewonki strives to be a diverse, equitable, and inclusive organization. Our legacy of thoughtful self-reflection and purposeful change guides our efforts to create a place where all participants and staff can flourish. We are committed to:

  • Promoting the principles of social and environmental justice*;
  • Cultivating a leadership culture that fosters the best practices of this work;
  • Building our financial strength to ensure the durability of this work;
  • Attracting and enrolling students and campers who reflect our nation’s diversity;
  • Attracting and retaining staff who reflect our nation’s diversity;
  • Providing relevant, rigorous professional development;
  • Designing a campus that is responsive to many needs;
  • Evaluating our progress on an ongoing basis; and
  • Collaborating whenever possible with peer institutions to share knowledge and resources.

For more information about our diversity, equity & inclusion statement, including a background and overview of how this statement was created, please read this supporting document. 

* Chewonki’s definition of environmental justice is informed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s definition of the term, which is “the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income with respect to the development, implementation and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations and policies.”

A Roadmap to a Better Future

We acknowledge that Chewonki operates throughout Maine on the ancestral lands of the Wabanaki and our main campus is on the land of the Wawenock, who were part of the Eastern Abenaki people. We also acknowledge that our organization has not always been inclusive, equitable, or diverse in the ways we envision for the future. 

We are engaged in a sustained effort to transform Chewonki into a more diverse, equitable, inclusive, and anti-racist organization, one that is committed to addressing the historical and entrenched inequities that prevent us from reaching our full potential as a place of teaching and learning.

In 2018, our board of trustees approved a formal Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Statement to guide this effort. Over the past two years, we have used a combination of community input, internal audits, outside consultants, staff training, and working groups to identify work in ten key impact areas.

Our roadmap contains dozens of initiatives that we believe will improve our institution as a whole. These ongoing efforts will provide a better experience for our community of participants, families, alumni, staff, faculty, trustees, advisors, and partner organizations.

The pursuit of diversity, equity, and inclusion is not a singular goal unto itself but a standard through which we choose to view every area of our organization’s work. This roadmap is intended to be a living document that we will update a few times each year as we conclude initiatives, begin new ones, and improve our understanding of the needs of the community.

We hope that a transparent view of these efforts, combined with support and feedback from all stakeholders, will help us find new and creative ways to address the historical and entrenched problems of racism, discrimination, and inequity that face all of us. We invite you to share your feedback and comments with us through the form at the bottom of the page. 

Our Key Impact Areas:

Recent changes:

  • We established our first merit-based scholarship, the Maine Youth  Environmental Leaders Scholarship, to increase applications from Maine students
  • We expanded remote admissions events to expand access to a broader range of interested parties outside our historic geographic range.
  • We added the position of associate director of admissions to provide more personalized outreach and support to families in the application process for school programs.
  • We added a second Waypoint staff member to connect with families and mentor students as we grow the program in the Bath area.

Our work in progress includes:

  • Implement changes to our recruiting plan to reach new audiences, including:
      • Expand our relationships with access organizations
      • Commit financial aid to specific schools with student populations of predominantly underrepresented groups
      • Advertise our programs in publications for LGBTQIA+ families
      • Explore ways to partner with organizations such as Fresh Air Fund, Outdoor Afro, Changemakers, Seeds of Peace, Latino Outdoors, & others. 
  • Engage alumni ambassadors to bring a broader range of perspectives and racial identities to our school presentations and recruiting events.
  • Establish language support and translation services for registration and admissions documents.
  • Create BIPOC-specific admissions events in partnership with alumni to meet new families.

Recent changes:

  • We established a no-fee application process for all Chewonki programs.
  • Promote the availability of existing fee waivers for the third-party financial aid application.
  • We created an endowment growth plan to increase financial sustainability and long-term program affordability.
  • We established partnerships with other foundations in Maine (Elmina B. Sewall, Lerner, Quimby, Onion, Betterment Fund) to provide Chewonki programming in local school districts.

Our work in progress includes:

  • Create a wrap-around financial support plan for participants- i.e. clothing, equipment, and travel – in all programs to provide an equitable experience.
  • Research and evaluate alternate tuition models to provide more equitable access to Chewonki programs.

Recent changes:

  • We revised the Camp Chewonki program structure and descriptive language to be more explicitly inclusive of the gender spectrum. 
  • We revised the curriculum in Maine Coast Semester’s English course–Literature and the Land, so that students read and “wrestle” with a diverse collection of writers and perspectives as they explore both their relationship to place and their sense of self. 
  • We revised the curriculum in Maine Coast Semester’s Honors United States History course to explore the nation’s history from multiple perspectives with a particular emphasis given to historically underrepresented narratives.
  • We updated Maine Coast Semester’s weekly school meeting framework to explicitly explore social identities and community engagement. It is planned and facilitated by semester students with support and guidance from semester school teachers.

Our work in progress includes:

  • Since September 2020, Maine Coast Semester has been engaged in a pilot program designed to provide resources for BIPOC students by engaging them in a one-to-one mentoring relationship with a BIPOC alumni of MCS.
  • Integrate an acknowledgement of land and water, and our relationship with both, into regular practices for teaching, events, trainings, and meetings.
  • Update our Maine Coast Semester Goals for Graduates framework to include DEI principles.
  • Review and update the Farm and Food Systems curriculum for all programs with the following goals: spend more time discussing indigenous food systems, use honest language (ex. colonizers as opposed to settlers or explorers) with all ages, and center the stories of many types of farms and farmers in our lessons- all with a consistent awareness of decentering White Supremacy Culture.

Recent changes:

  • We established staff & student affinity groups with regular meetings.
  • We updated our style manual to include gender pronouns.
  • We created a weekly summary and staff meeting report from our DEI committee to inform all employees about DEI-related updates and opportunities.

Our work in progress includes:

  • Create an onboarding program to provide new employees with an overview of DEI key terms and concepts, and how they apply at Chewonki. 
  • Update our branding guidelines to include diversity, equity, and inclusion principles.
  • Annually review DEI vocabulary and update our style manual and publications. 
  • Review of DEI statement first published in 2018.
  • Conduct a DEI-focused audit of all publications and branded material, and create a schedule for updating items that don’t meet our standard. 
  • Increase our focus on inclusive storytelling and provide a broader range of subjects and people in our publications. 
  • Revisit the framing and narrative of Chewonki’s origin story and connection to place, and supplement or replace existing materials over time.

Recent changes:

  • We expanded our seasonal facilities to create a permanent home for Camp Chewonki for Girls on Chewonki Neck.
  • We completed renovations of bathroom facilities in two main buildings to create individual, all-gender, private spaces.

Our work in progress includes:

  • Apply a design standard to all new buildings and renovation projects to provide gender-inclusive spaces.
  • Improve accessibility (ADA) with each new building and renovation project.
  • Increase our investment in information technology and campus networks to better support remote and hybrid work, making employment more accessible to a range of candidates.
  • Build and renovate our on-campus housing as part of a multi-year effort guided by our master plan, to recruit more candidates for teaching positions, including from underrepresented groups, and better retain them through multiple life stages.
  • Establish a written process for assigning on-campus residences, offices, and activity spaces that recognizes resource limitations and prioritizes equity.

Recent changes:

  • We engaged Elevate Health, an outside consulting firm, to assess our health care services and provide recommendations.
  • We expanded health services to include 24/7 nursing.
  • We hired a full-time mental health services coordinator.
  • We hired a director of health and wellness.
  • Our expanded health team now works closely with program leaders to provide wellness and health education to all on-campus participants.
  • We completed a renovation of all Health and Wellness Center spaces.

Our work in progress includes:

  • Write a strategic plan for Health and Wellness at Chewonki to implement recommendations from Elevate Health.
  • Design and build an improved Health and Wellness Center to serve all participants and staff.
  • Write and ratify a health and wellness vision statement that aligns with our mission and DEI statement.

Recent changes:

  • We initiated ongoing networking with peer institutions to inform our DEI work.
  • We created a new staff cohort program to onboard employees and build collegial connections.

Our work in progress includes:

  • Actively seek new recruiting venues to grow the diversity of our staff and faculty.
  • Update our communication, hiring, and management processes to support the recruitment, onboarding, and retention of employees from underrepresented groups.
  • Add multiple training modules in anti-bias hiring practices for all staff involved in hiring committees.
  • Establish and articulate an equitable and transparent approach to employee compensation.
  • Implement an ongoing DEI-focused professional development training program for staff.

Recent changes:

  • We hired anti-racism/organizational development consultants for 18-months of staff training and train-the-trainer sessions around DEI topics, and work toward an anti-racist culture.
  • We created a new Organizational Development staff team, led by the Executive Vice President, which is inclusive of DEI Initiatives, Staff Development and Support, and Human Resources.
  • We strengthened our staff-led DEI Committee through clarification of goals and terms, and by deliberately rotating staff members onto the committee roster.
  • We created a formal review process for DEI-related constituent concerns.
  • We created an Indigenous Partnerships Working Group that is working to strengthen relationships with local tribes and support their interests and also to better honor and center indigenous voices and knowledge in our curriculum and practices.
  • We created a Professional Development/Onboarding/Wellness Task Force to research and recommend improvements in these areas

Our work in progress includes:

  • Implement a consistent and comprehensive onboarding/orientation process that reflects forward-looking Chewonki values.
  • Revise all position descriptions and postings to include an accurate description of DEI values and expectations.
  • Foster a leadership culture that prioritizes equity and inclusion in discussion and decision-making.
  • Update all policies, protocols, and employee handbooks to reflect current best practices with a DEI lens.
  • Develop and implement a current best practice approach to staff evaluation and annual reviews
  • Currently working with Essex Consulting to assess and recommend improvements to structures, systems, and policies throughout the organization, including supervision, support, and feedback.

Recent changes:

  • We implemented regular training and development for our board to foster an equitable and anti-racist leadership culture among Trustees and Advisors. 
  • We charged the Committee on Trustees and Advisors with accountability for DEI work at the board level.

Our work in progress includes:

  • Diversify our slate of Trustees and Advisors and consider new ways of achieving that goal.
  • Review and reconsider bylaws and practices to be more inclusive of all current and potential Trustees and Advisors.
  • Incorporate and coordinate DEI work in each board committee with clear goals and priorities.
  • Staff and board representatives are currently participating in the First Light Learning Journey in Maine, “…a bridge between conservation organizations and Penobscot, Passamaquoddy, Maliseet, and Micmac Communities who seek to expand Wabanaki access and relationship to the land.”

Recent changes:

  • We created a BIPOC alumni and friends group with more events planned.
  • We created a naming policy that ensures our building and site names are place-based instead of donor-centric.

Our work in progress includes:

  • Create and publish our participation fundraising goals.
  • Track and report on race and gender identity trends at Chewonki.
  • Create and publish a fundraising philosophy for Chewonki .
  • Review and evaluate all place and building names with a DEI lens, guided by the naming policy.
  • Raise funds to further support DEI-specific goals such as health and wellness, wrap-around support, financial aid, DEI training, equitable facilities, and professional development.

Feedback:

We welcome your thoughts and ideas about our DEI Roadmap and other ways we can work to improve Chewonki. 

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