At Ascend, we recognize that within the education system as a whole and our own organization, many systems and structures, even when well-intentioned, serve to perpetuate white supremacist culture.
We recognize our participation in oppressive systems and we fully commit to becoming a more diverse, equitable, inclusive, and anti-racist organization. Our teachers and staff commit to this important work so that we are best positioned to achieve our mission, disrupt and dismantle systems of oppression that impact our families, and serve as agents for radical change to create better outcomes for our students. Read Ascend's full commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, and anti-racism.
Our journey so far
Making our commitment
In 2019, we made an overdue institutional commitment to begin the forever work of doing better. We formed an Equity Steering Committee made up of teachers, leaders, and staff from across the network who worked with a consultant to engage with students, families, and staff to develop a shared understanding of what becoming a more diverse, equitable, inclusive, and anti-racist organization means to Ascend. They used these conversations to develop our DEIA Commitment Statement and internal strategy. All staff signed and engaged in workshops to deepen their understanding of our DEIA Commitment Statement.
Doing the work
We know that our commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, and anti-racism is forever work and will require continuous growth and development. We are working to continuously interrogate our systems and structures both within and outside of the classroom to proactively disrupt oppressive systems and structures and foster equity, inclusion, and anti-racism.
In 2020 and 2021, we focused on building DEIA mindsets and skills and started the work of transforming our commitment into action. This included all leaders and managers completing “Leading with Equity” management training, as well as developing an interactive DEIA Resource Library with hundreds of books, articles, podcasts, and online courses that staff can access to continue to develop their awareness and skills to embed DEIA principles and practices into their work.
We also launched a reconstituted Equity Advisory Committee and started the work to embed diversity, equity, inclusion, and anti-racism in our curriculum to ensure we are providing windows and mirrors to our students. This included diversifying the texts in our English language arts curriculum, including social justice units in every grade, centering Black, Indigenous, and People of Color history, experiences, and perspectives in our social studies and history curriculum, and aligning our math program to culturally responsive mathematics teaching practices. This work is just the beginning and we are continuing to work to strengthen our curriculum and instruction to embed DEIA.
Actualizing our commitment
Our work to become a more diverse, equitable, inclusive, and anti-racist organization is ongoing, but we will know Ascend is making progress when:
- diversity, equity, inclusion, and anti-racism are integrated into all that we do, and we have clear measurement and accountability systems and dedicated resources to further this work;
- all students, families, teachers, and staff feel a sense of community and are valued, safe, supported, and welcomed;
- students are held to high expectations that balance accountability, respect, and love;
- the team is actively building DEIA mindsets and skills that enable them to serve and support students at the highest level and create spaces that enable students to bravely advocate for themselves;
- there is transparent and consistent communication and action; and all systems, processes, and policies are free of bias and reflect the diverse beliefs, voices, and experiences of the Ascend community.
Equity Advisory Committee
The Equity Advisory Committee (EAC) is a cross-functional, advisory group that provides input into Ascend’s DEIA strategy and programs, facilitates communication and information sharing related to this work across the Ascend community, and supports the delivery of stated goals and outcomes.
From our CEO
I am driven by a deep conviction for social justice and for fighting for the rights of all children, especially Black and Brown students and other groups who historically have not received the education that was promised to them. At Ascend, we have made the commitment to become a more equitable, diverse, inclusive and anti-racist organization. However, this is more than just a statement for us. It is a lens we use to interrogate all the policies and structures that exist in our organization and ensure we keep diversity, equity, inclusion, and anti-racism at the forefront of what we do each and every day. We must all work together to dismantle and disrupt inequitable, exclusionary systems and practices to create environments where all people can thrive as their authentic selves.
Recy Benjamin Dunn
Chief Executive Officer, Ascend
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