Call to Action: Extension’s Strategic Commitment to Inclusivity & Anti-Racism Work

Call to Action toolkit

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News release

Considering the Division of Extension’s responsibility to remain relevant and responsive as a 21st century public-serving institution, we recognize the need for strategic and coordinated actions that help us form a more equitable, anti-racist, non-biased, and inclusive organization.

The following set of nine strategic initiatives are structured to explicitly align our institutional commitment with institutional action. The initiatives are focused on these five institutional imperatives for improving equity, inclusion, and diversity at Extension. They include: 1) denouncing racism and bigotry across our organization, 2) investing in our staff’s understanding of historical, social, and political issues that shape the context of our work, 3) reducing barriers and expanding access to our programs and services, 4) improving our practices for attracting, hiring, and retaining a diverse workforce, and 5) tracking our progress with clear measures of accountability.

Executive Summary

In July 2020, Extension’s Dean’s Leadership Team approved the Call to Action along with the strategic initiatives outlined below. These initiatives supplement the specific efforts already being taken by Extension’s Institutes and Areas. Many of the Call to Action’s initiatives include the creation of an ad hoc support structure (e.g. work group, steering committee, task force). This presents Extension colleagues with opportunities to be engaged in the work and contribute meaningfully to shaping the goals, outcomes, action items, and accountability measures that are appropriate for each initiative and its objectives. Each initiative also lists an organizational lead who will determine an appropriate timeline needed to accomplish the objectives and tasks for each initiative. The Interim Director of the Office of Access, Inclusion, and Compliance (OAIC) will provide an initial charge for each support structure and provide additional guidance as needed. Efforts of support structures will be accountable to the Dean’s Leadership Team. Organizational leads, along with the input from the support structure members, will update members of the Dean’s Leadership Team on the progress and completion of each initiative. Questions related to Extension’s Call to Action can be directed to: oaic@extension.wisc.edu.

For details and updates on each of these initiatives, click and expand the tabs for more information.


Professional capacity building and organizational development

Initiative 1: Expanded understandings of the Land-Grant System history in the U.S. and in Wisconsin

Name Expanded understandings of the Land-Grant System history in the U.S. and in Wisconsin
Core purpose/objective To provide new Extension colleagues, as well as current
colleagues, with an expanded perspective of the Land-Grant System history in the U.S. and in Wisconsin. This will include greater attention to how part of the current U.S. Land-Grant system (1862s, 1890s, and 1994s) was founded upon ideas that perpetuate institutionalized forms of racism and settler colonialism.
Initiative launch date August 2020
Organizational lead(s) Kandi O’Neil (NCO), Aaron Bird Bear (NCO), Teresa Curtis (OAIC), and Ariana Thao (OAIC)
Recommended support structure for this initiative Steering committee
Alignment with Dean’s Vision Points VP 1 Local and Statewide Presence, VP 5 Diversity

Updates:

09/28/2020 Organizational leads attended an orientation for their roles.

12/01/2020 Organizational leads attended an orientation for their roles.

12/11/2020 Organizational leads held an initial meeting with steering committee members

01/12/2021 Steering committee members have established monthly meetings for the initiative

03/15/2021 The steering committee has created three subcommittees for members (external learning, internal learning, and a resource library) that will meet on a regular basis.

Initiative 2: Learning community for inclusive organizational citizenship

Name Learning community for inclusive organizational citizenship
Core purpose/objective To establish an organization-wide, cohort-based, learning and training platform for Extension colleagues, with specific attention to deepening understandings of power and privilege, racialized Identity, intersectionality, Whiteness, anti-Blackness, inclusive leadership practices, and other issues.
Initiative launch date August 2020
Organizational lead(s) Shelly Vils-Havel (HR), Caitlin Yunis (OAIC)
Recommended support structure for this initiative Steering committee
Alignment with Dean’s Vision Points VP 4 Workforce, VP 5 Diversity

Updates:

09/01/2020 Extension has hired a lead for this initiative. She will help architect the platform and curriculum for this initiative.

09/28/2020 Organizational leads attended an orientation for their roles.

10/20/2020 Organizational leads held an initial meeting with steering committee members

03/01/2020 Curriculum has been completed and the hope is to launch a pilot Learning Community in the near future. The aim of the Learning Community is to develop a sustained and ongoing cohort-based learning experience in which Extension staff can build their self-awareness, specifically related to their experiences of race and racism, power and privilege, and socialization. In the long term, we hope that while our curriculum can be housed on Canvas, it can be primarily delivered in-person. It’s possible that our first cohort will need to experience most of the course virtually. 

03/26/2021 The curriculum team will move forward with facilitating the curriculum.

Initiative 3: Inclusive Excellence Mini Grant Project

Name Inclusive Excellence Mini Grant Project
Core purpose/objective In addition to existing opportunities available from within Institutes, this initiative would create a platform and process for allocating resources from the Dean’s Office to fund educational initiatives and research projects. This would include, but not be limited to, efforts that focus on countering the systemic effects of racism and bigotry.
Initiative launch date January 2021
Organizational lead(s) Patrick Robinson (Associate Dean), JulieAnn Stawicki (Associate Dean)
Recommended support structure for this initiative Work group
Alignment with Dean’s Vision Points VP 1 Local and Statewide Presence, VP 3 National Leader, VP 5 Diversity

Updates:

09/28/2020 Organizational leads attended an orientation for their roles.

Initiative 4: Statewide anti-racism and anti-bigotry resource library

Name Statewide anti-racism and anti-bigotry resource library
Core purpose/objective To develop a comprehensive set of educational resources that are available to Extension colleagues for self-directed learning opportunities
Initiative launch date July 2020
Organizational lead(s) OAIC staff
Alignment with Dean’s Vision Points VP 2 Scholarship, VP 4 Workforce, VP 5 Diversity

Updates:

08/15/2020 The Office of Access, Inclusion, and Compliance started work on creating a resource library.

09/01/2020 The website was launched and is hosted here: https://blogs.extension.wisc.edu/oaic/anti-racism-resource-library/

10/01/2020 With the exception of ongoing maintenance to the library, this initiative is complete.

Initiative 5: Develop additional Extension staffing capacity that is focused on teaching, learning, and culturally responsive practices and pedagogies (CRP)

Name Develop additional Extension staffing capacity that is focused on teaching, learning, and culturally responsive practices and pedagogies (CRP)
Core purpose/objective To leverage disciplinary expertise that supports the cohesive and consistent design and delivery of culturally responsive curricula and educational programming
Initiative launch date January 2021
Organizational lead(s) Dominic Ledesma (OAIC), Teresa Curtis (OAIC), Patrick Robinson (Associate Dean), JulieAnn Stawicki (Associate Dean)
Alignment with Dean’s Vision Points VP 4 Workforce, VP 5 Diversity

Updates:

09/28/2020 Organizational leads attended an orientation for their roles.

 

Workplace safety, inclusion, and accountability

Initiative 6: Bias & hate reporting platform

Name Bias & hate reporting platform
Core purpose/objective In alignment with the objectives of UW-Madison’s Bias & Hate Incident Form, the Bias & Hate Incident Reporting Platform has a two-fold purpose. First, it provides Extension employees with a formal mechanism to report issues that undermine our Division’s commitment to promoting a safe and inclusive environment for all employees, volunteers, and participants. Second, it is intended assure employees that all issues reported through the platform will be addressed in a timely manner that is appropriate for each situation or circumstances.
Initiative launch date August 2020
Organizational lead(s) Jamie O’Donnell (HR), Greg Johl (ETS), Nathaniel Shay (Dean’s Office)
Recommended support structure for this initiative Work Group
Alignment with Dean’s Vision Points VP 4 Workforce, VP 5 Diversity

Updates:

09/28/2020 Organizational leads attended an orientation for their roles.

November 2020 Organizational leads held an initial meeting with steering committee members, exploring examples of bias & reporting platforms

January 2021 A prototype was created with testing occurring afterwards

February 2021 The committee met with the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Office of Compliance for alignment with their reporting systems

March 2021 Language is being drafted to establish parameters around the reporting system

 

Initiative 7: Institutional position statement

Name Institutional position statement
Core purpose/objective To develop an institutional statement that clarifies and underscores Extension’s position and commitment to inclusivity and engaging in anti-racism work.
Initiative launch date August 2020
Organizational lead(s) Matthew Call (Communications and Stakeholder Engagement)
Recommended support structure for this initiative Work group
Alignment with Dean’s Vision Points VP 3 National Leader, VP 5 Diversity

Updates:

09/28/2020 Organizational leads attended an orientation for their roles.

10/12/2020 Organizational leads held an initial meeting with workgroup members.

 

Cultivating a workforce for 21st century needs

Initiative 8: Task force for inclusive recruitment, hiring, and retention strategies

Name Task force for inclusive recruitment, hiring, and retention strategies
Core purpose/objective In alignment with a recommendation from a recent HR report on racial and ethnic disparities in Extension’s employee base, this task force will support efforts for improving and expanding strategies that attract, build, and sustain a more diverse workforce.
Initiative launch date September 2020
Organizational lead(s) Pam Dollard (HR), Nathaniel Shay (Dean’s Office)
Recommended support structure for this initiative Task force
Alignment with Dean’s Vision Points VP 4 Workforce, VP 5 Diversity

Updates:

09/28/2020 Organizational leads attended an orientation for their roles.

10/16/2020 Organizational leads held an initial meeting with task force members.

Initiative 9: Steering committee for the Wisconsin Idea Internship Program (WIIP)

Name Steering committee for the Wisconsin Idea Internship Program (WIIP)
Core purpose/objective The WIIP was canceled for summer 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This steering committee will help build upon the initial momentum and expand opportunities that cultivate a more diverse talent pool of summer interns for summer 2021
Initiative launch date November 2020
Organizational lead(s) Shelly Vils-Havel (HR), Dominic Ledesma (OAIC)
Recommended support structure for this initiative Steering committee
Alignment with Dean’s Vision Points VP 4 Workforce, VP 5 Diversity

Updates:

09/28/2020 Organizational leads attended an orientation for their roles.

03/09/2021 The WIIP Steering Committee had its initial meeting.

February 2021 The WIIP has been postponed till summer 2022. However, the committee will be meeting on a quarterly basis.

Questions related to Extension’s Call to Action can be directed to: oaic@extension.wisc.edu.