What We Do Next Matters: Listening Groups, Promise54, and DEI at Waterford.org

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This is a time to listen.

The last 90 days in our country—with the senseless killings of George Floyd in Minnesota, Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia, and Breonna Taylor in Kentucky, on top of the many other examples of brutality and injustice—show that we are anything but a post-racial society.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Waterford.org is a mission-driven organization, and diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) are at the heart of what we do. These values inform our work around equity in education, with a focus on making a difference for children and families in underserved communities. We are keenly aware of how race and educational opportunity have been (and are) connected.

However, we know we can always improve. And even before recent events erupted, we recognized the need to increase our focus on DEI among employees inside the organization.

Listening Groups and Promise54

To lay the groundwork for this improvement, earlier this year Waterford began working with Promise54, an outside firm that supports the creation of “cultures where those who have been historically silenced can bravely share the full extent of their lived experience, learn from one another, and bridge perspectives.” This is a lofty goal, and one that we are embracing as essential to the way we want to work.

Last month, as a first step in working with Promise54, Waterford employees were encouraged to complete a confidential survey to help leadership more fully understand the staff’s experiences and perspectives related to DEI at Waterford. The survey results will inform a multi-year DEI strategy, with employee voices at the center of decision making.

This week also sees the launch of a series of internal listening discussions, which will be facilitated by Promise54. These listening groups are designed to give greater voice to members of the organization who can speak to their own diverse personal experiences and feelings, and who can also provide recommendations on how we can do better. These are the voices we need to hear and amplify.

Listen, Learn, and Take Action

We acknowledge there are some who have little firsthand experience with the tensions boiling over in our nation, but all of us have the ability to listen, learn, and take action.

We will continue our mission to achieve universal literacy in our country and to ensure every family has a fair shot from the start regardless of where they live and who they are. Waterford.org will continue to strive to be an organization that uplifts employees and is centered in the values of diversity, equity and inclusion.

Silence and inaction on issues of social justice are unacceptable. It is so important, especially now, to really hear the voices of those most impacted so they can tell us how we can be truly helpful, and then we must act.

This is a time to listen, so that we can do more and be better.

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