Statement Of Commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
Delta Institute can only be successful in its mission if we direct our capacities, power, and collaborations toward creating greater equity and reversing institutional racism. We regard environmental challenges as intersectional issues that reveal disparities in how we allocate resources and value communities. We envision a region where all communities and landscapes thrive. This has not been the case since the forced removal of Kickapoo, Kaskaskia, Potawatomi, Peoria, Miami, and many other tribes from their ancestral lands. We recognize that racial animus, segregation, and institutional inequities have shaped our region and robbed us all of our potential.
At our core, we are an organization that is defined by its people and communities accelerating change, it is written into our very name. We do not minimize the challenges inherent to creating change, and believe it is part of our mission to interrogate ugly histories and current realities, and constantly learn, test, and collaborate until a new, better way of doing things is the standard. We believe that the solutions to our most difficult equity and environmental challenges are already being articulated in the communities that are impacted, and we seek to be a strong partner in securing resources, technical assistance, and government capacity to amplify and accelerate these remedies. To that end, we commit to building and sustaining an organization that represents all communities, to creating an atmosphere where we can bring our full selves to our work, and to directing our energy, diverse perspectives, and broad capacities to the task of renewing our region.
Implementation Goals and Activities:
We have formally engaged in Diversity Equity and Inclusion (DEI) work since 2016 and created an ad hoc DEI committee including our staff, board, and auxiliary board in April 2019. We approached this as a process of continuous improvement, reflection and learning with the goal of integrating DEI into our programs and operations. This process includes the following ongoing activities:
- Expand BIPOC representation at all levels of the organization, including senior and governing leadership.
- Assess our performance on DEI parameters through internal surveys and review processes across stakeholder groups.
- Acknowledge and create processes to reduce implicit bias in our hiring processes.
- Collaborate more equitably with our partners by uncovering hidden power dynamics, recognizing that community partners are best positioned to lead, and working proactively with partners to determine the best role Delta can take in collaborations.
- Communicating with funders about DEI dynamics in their grantmaking.
- Utilize our communications and fundraising channels to amplify partner community organizations and groups led by people of color.
- Curate resources to help build our organizational capacity around intersectional DEI concepts.
- Ensure accessibility across our activities, such as our communications and events.
- Kickapoo (KICK-a-poo)
- Kaskaskia (kahs-KAHS-kee-ah)
- Potawatomi (pot-tah-WAH-tah-mee)
- Peoria (pea-OR-e-ah)
- Miami (my-AM-e)
Delta’s Board of Directors voted to adopt this Statement of Commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in March 2021 and subsequently reaffirmed and reapproved in both September 2022 and 2023. DEI activities are led at the Board level within the Board’s Governance and Nominating Committee to ensure continued and ongoing momentum.
We at Delta are using this Statement to sizably inform all of our policies, processes, practices, and partnerships, including our strategic plan. We are an organization of iteration, evaluation, and continuous improvement, and this includes how we best create thriving landscapes and communities throughout the Midwest. For questions or comments, please do not hesitate to contact us.
Advancing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at Delta Institute: An Update
Over the past few years, we have committed ourselves to being more transparent with our partners, supporters, and stakeholders regarding our approach to advancing DEI at Delta. Since Delta’s ad hoc DEI Committee concluded its scope of work in 2021, we have implemented several new policies and activities:
- Publishing an executive summary of our DEI Committee’s work (March 2021);
- Revising organizational branding for improved accessibility (June 2021);
- Using the DEI Committee’s work to inform Delta’s refined Strategic Plan (July 2022);
- Developing an Organizational Community Engagement Stipend Policy (August 2022);
- Refining our approach to using inclusive vocabulary (August 2022);
- Developing and adopting a Black Labor Acknowledgement (March 2023);
- Developing and adopting a Land Acknowledgement (March 2023); and
- Integrating more accessibility features on our website (April 2023).
To truly create a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive organization, we must continuously invest in a cycle that helps us assess what we’ve put in place, explore how we can improve upon it, and refine it as needed to further reach our objectives.