A Two-Year Workshop Series on Building Racial Equity in Environmental and Outdoor Science Organizations
The Lawrence Hall of Science and Justice Outside (formerly Youth Outside) are launching the Working Towards Racial Equity (WTRE) workshop series. This 2-year series and associated research study will support environmental and outdoor science organizations to build capacity to foster equitable, inclusive, and culturally relevant work environments and organizations. This workshop series centers racial equity in its approach because we recognize that racism is at the heart of inequity in the environmental field and broadly throughout society. Working towards racial equity will ultimately benefit every person, including those with other marginalized identities.
Workshop Series Goals
- Develop and continuously improve the capacities of organizations to make systemic improvements for working toward equitable organizations.
- Develop a model for organizations to work towards racial equity that can be broadly implemented in the field.
About the WTRE Workshop Series
Participating organizations will engage in an initial 5-month intensive and then receive ongoing assistance and support for another 19 months, for a total of 2 years of support. The workshop series will be organized within two strands: one focused on organizational systems change and one focused on supporting professionals of color at participating organizations. Each organization should be prepared to support two teams, one in each of these respective strands: a distributed leadership team focused on organization change and a team of professionals of color focused on career advancement. These teams will largely function independently but will intersect strategically throughout the effort. Some individuals may participate on both teams. Many more details on all aspects of the workshop series follow below.
We have completed recruitment for two cohorts of organizations: one cohort will start in August 2021 and other will start in February 2022. Our application period has closed and we are no longer accepting applications.
This workshop series is funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation. There are no registration cost to participants or organizations(however, organizations must commit to paying for the time for its team members to fully participate).
We commit to providing:
- An initial workshop series for each team (organization systems change and professionals of color), totalling 40-hours of professional learning over 5 months
- Ongoing virtual engagement, up to 25 hours over two years
- Online network to facilitate shared learnings and resources
- Up to four days of virtual consulting/technical assistance for each participating organization, such as (but not limited to) leadership coaching, document review, website audits, staff surveys, or revising hiring practices, among other possibilities. Specific technical assistance will be co-determined by the organization and workshop series facilitators, based on each organization’s unique contexts and needs.
- Room, board, and a travel stipend for any in-person events (should gathering in-person be an option)
- Stipends for professionals of color to attend the People of the Global Majority in the Outdoors, Nature, and Environment (PGM ONE) conference and/or other BIPOC-focused conferences and/or affinity spaces.
Participating organizations are expected to invite two teams to fully participate in concurrent but separate workshop strands. Organizations will support all individual participants on each team with paid time to participate in all events, adjusting schedules if there are work conflicts with workshop series events, and release time for participants to complete work as a result of the workshop series.
Organizational Systems Change Team
This distributed leadership team is focused on organizational systems change. This team should be made up of 3-7 organization leaders, who strategically represent different spheres of influence at different levels within your organization, including:
- administrative and decision-making authority over mission, budget (e.g., executive director and/or board member)
- curriculum, hiring, instruction, professional learning (e.g., program director)
- managing instructional staff (e.g., coordinator or lead instructor);
teaching (e.g., influential instructor)
- community engagement
- human resources
Each Organization Systems Change team should reflect the size, context and governance structure of your unique organization. Teams should also aim to reflect the demographic composition of both an organization’s own workforce and the communities it serves or hopes to serve. Some individuals may participate on both teams.
Professionals of Color Team
The Professionals of Color Team provides the individuals on the team with professional development and network building opportunities to increase their pathways for career advancement. Organizations will invite staff members to join this team after your application has been accepted and selected into the project. While you will not be disqualified for not being able to sponsor any professionals of color, organizations that are able to participate in both strands will be prioritized during the application review process. The PoC team from each organization will be composed of 1-7 staff who self-identify as BIPOC and opt-in to participate. (Some members of your Organization Systems Change Team might also participate in the PoC strand, but the two strands are intentionally separate.)
After you are accepted into the program, you will be invited to a Welcome Webinar where we will provide guidance on how to invite Professionals of Color from your staff.
In addition to supporting the individuals and work of the organization teams, we ask that each participating organization commit to:
Ongoing Engagement & Participation
- For 19 months following the initial workshop series, participants will actively participate in regular virtual sessions. These sessions will alternate between different structures, including: full strand meetings focused on introducing new content or sharing implementation efforts; break-out discussion groups by job/role, gender and racial affinity identities; “book club” style discussions about assigned readings; and team planning meetings. Between meetings, participants will be sometimes assigned tasks such as individual readings or reviewing and analyzing your organization’s website or other guiding documents.
- The Lawrence Hall of Science and Youth Outside teams will provide up to four days of virtual consulting/technical assistance to each organization to support your goals and priorities (see more information on virtual support under “Our Commitment to You”.
- Depending on future COVID-19 guidelines, participants will be invited to either an in-person or virtual follow-up intensive workshop. This workshop will occur in the 2nd year of participation, and will focus on the particular circumstances and challenges participants are experiencing.
Research & Evaluation Activities
- The Working Towards Racial Equity project includes research and evaluation components. Research is led by the Research Group at the Lawrence Hall of Science, and aims to build the field’s understanding of the factors and conditions that contribute to racial equity and institutional change in environmental education. Through this work, we aim to center the experiences and perspectives of BIPOC staff in gaining a more critical and nuanced understanding of racial equity in environmental education. Research activities may include surveys, observations, interviews and sharing of organizational artifacts and documents.
- The evaluation, led by Informing Change, aims to use feedback to support continuous improvement of the project activities. Participants in both strands will be invited to participate in these activities, which may include surveys, individual and focus group interviews, observations, and case study sites.
- Participation in the WTRE workshop series is not contingent upon participation in the research and evaluation. The research and evaluation teams will provide further information prior to the start of the Workshop Series.
- All participants will be expected to have a reliable internet connection and the ability to join workshop series events through Zoom on a computer (not a phone or tablet) with the ability to be on both video and audio.
- Financial assistance for new equipment will be available on a case-by-case basis.
We ask each participating individual to:
- Actively participate in all project activities, meetings and workshops of their respective strand, including 40 hours over the initial 5 months and up to 25 hours per year in ongoing engagement for up to 2 years .
- Commit to engage in critical, reflective thought and dialogue about current systems and structures in place at your organization
- Share your time, focus, creative energy, and expertise within and across organizations in your cohort.
- Collaborate with your organization team members to make and implement a plan to advance equity and inclusion at your organization (Organization Systems Change Team only)
- Engage in research and evaluation activities related to the development of a broadly applicable model and lessons learned that will advance the field as a whole.
We are currently accepting applications for two cohorts of participating organizations. The Fall Cohort will start their initial 5-month intensive in August 2021 and Spring Cohort will start their 5-month intensive in February 2022. Each cohort will continue receiving support and participating in ongoing virtual engagement until August 2023.
Cohort 1 5-Month Intensive
Whole Group Meetings
8/23/2021: Kick off
11/15/2021: Mid-Series Convening
Organizational Systems Change Team Meetings
8/23/2021 – 8/27/2021: Intensive Week 1
11/1/2021 – 11/5/2021: Intensive Week 2
Professionals of Color Team Meetings
9/7/2021 – 9/10/2021: Intensive Week 1
11/15/2021 – 11/19/2021: Intensive Week 2
Cohort 2 5-MONTH INTENSIVE
Welcome Webinar: 12/7/2021, 2-3pm PT
Whole Group Meetings
2/7/2022: Kick off
4/4/2022: Mid-Series Convening
Organizational Systems Change Team Meetings
2/8/2022 – 2/11/2022: Intensive Week 1
3/14/2022 – 3/18/2022: Intensive Week 2
Professionals of Color Team Meetings
2/22/2022 – 2/25/2022: Intensive Week 1
4/4/2022 – 4/8/2022: Intensive Week 2
You can find a complete list of dates and times for both cohorts here.
What do we hope to learn from your application?
You can use the following questions to guide your thinking as you complete the application.
- Where is your organization in it’s journey toward equity, inclusion, and cultural relevance?
- How do principles of equity, inclusion, and cultural relevance guide your organization’s leadership and decision-making?
- Is your organization able to demonstrate support for systemic change at the organization level?
- Does your organization have clear and specific goals related to equity/inclusion and/or clear and specific challenges to overcome?
- Does the organization demonstrate willingness to share and hear new perspectives?
- Does the organization demonstrate a clear commitment to supporting both the Organizational Systems Change team and the Professionals of Color team? (Note: Organizations that are able to support individuals in both teams will be prioritized in the application review process.)
- Do the individuals making up the Organization Systems Change team demonstrate influence over the organization?
- Do the individual applicants demonstrate a commitment to participating?
WTRE Advisory Board
We were incredibly fortunate to be able to draw expertise from our dedicated board of advisors for this project.
- Grace Anderson, Former director of PGM ONE, Independent Consultant
- Judy Braus Executive Director at The North American Association for Environmental Education (NAAEE)
- Bernadette Chi, Former Lawrence Hall of Science staff member, Independent Consultant
- Jody Donovan, Independent Consultant, Former COO and Director of Equity Commitee at Teton Science School
- Thomas Philip, Professor in Graduate School of Education, UC Berkeley
- Patricia Quijada, Professor at UC Davis
- Nina Roberts, Professor & Fulbright Scholar, Dept of Recreation, Parks, & Tourism; Faculty Director, Community Engaged Scholarship & Learning, Institute for Civic & Community Engagement at SF State
- Celeste Royer, Direct of Equity at Ten Strands
- Autumn Saxton-Ross, Vice President of Education and Chief Equity Officer at National Parks & Rec Association
- Bora Simmons, Founding Director of National Project for Excellence in Environmental Education at The North American Association for Environmental Education (NAAEE)
Application Process & Information
Our application period for both cohorts (Fall 2021 & Spring 2022) has closed.
We are no longer accepting applications.
Applications are currently open to all outdoor science organizations, including those dedicated to outdoor learning, environmental justice, environmental science, environmental literacy, youth development, and community development.
While the WTRE workshop series is focused on racial equity in the United States, we welcome applicants from organizations anywhere in the world.
This workshop series is co-designed and co-facilitated by The Lawrence Hall of Science and Justice Outside (formerly Youth Outside). It will be evaluated by Informing Change, an external evaluator in Berkeley, CA. It is part of a multi-year research study led by the Research and Impact Group at The Lawrence Hall of Science.
The Working Towards Racial Equity Workshop Series is funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 2005829. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.