Civil Rights Review Day

Civil Rights compliance efforts REQUIRE an internal review.  The Civil Rights Review Day offers Extension colleagues the opportunity to share with a visiting team of peers and administrators their efforts and challenges in expanding access in educational programs.  The goal is to assure that no person, on the grounds of race, color, religion, sex or national origin, is excluded or denied opportunity to participate.


Purpose of the Day

During the visit, county colleagues describe intentional and reasonable efforts and activities (partnerships, relationship building, language access, marketing, increasing accessibility, use of media, etc.) to include and serve minorities, women, people with disabilities, veterans, those with limited English proficiency, adults over age 40, and other historically under-represented and underserved groups in programming. This means describing:

  • demographics of the county and resources used to identify and reach protected, under-represented and underserved audiences;
  • decisions about which audiences to build relationships with;
  • strategies used to build relationships;
  • determinations about educational needs of each audience;
  • what the educational response was; (language and physical accommodations, materials and resources, etc.)
  • the outcomes and impacts including lessons learned on needs of each audience.

The focus of the county team’s discussion should be on the audiences, reasonable efforts and relationships established, not on the educational outcomes. There is no expectation that all efforts discussed be “successful.” Relationship building takes time. Trial and error is a normal part of this process. Extension encourages calculated risk-taking and continuous learning to improve our reach and effectiveness.  This is also an opportunity to become aware of where there is a gap in efforts.

During the visit, the visiting team serves both an administrative and a coaching role. They verify for the federal government that colleagues are making and documenting their intentional and reasonable efforts to reach protected and neglected audiences. They also learn from colleagues about promising practices in use around the state and offer ideas for improving and expanding access.  The primary assumption of the visiting team is that colleagues want to do their best at demonstrating inclusion and creating accessible programming.  The visiting team will offer suggestions for improving the documentation of your efforts and explain strategies to effectively engage protected and underserved audiences.

The Civil Rights Review Day focuses on a single county’s efforts, even though that county may be part of a multi-county area and programming is done across counties. Starting in 2019, counties can expect to have a Civil Rights Day every four years (see County Civil Rights Review Schedule 2021-2025).  The Director of Access, Inclusion & Compliance, along with members of the Civil Rights Leadership Team, will work with Area Extension Directors in scheduling a county’s Civil Rights Review Day several months in advance with the visit usually taking place in April-May. All county Extension staff are expected to be present and participate in the Civil Rights Review Day.

Components of the Day

The Civil Rights Review Day will be a half-day per county with the exception of a full day for Milwaukee, Dane, Brown, and Waukesha Counties. The day will include:

  • Review of the civil rights files by the visiting team.  Both county office and program area files will be reviewed for evidence of intentional and reasonable efforts and activities toward nondiscrimination in educational programs.  Note:  Files should remain accessible throughout the day.
  • A county-led discussion demonstrating knowledge of county residents, including demographic data, culture, values, beliefs, educational needs, and power and privilege dynamics.
  • County-led discussion sharing descriptions of public notification in adherence to the Extension policy on non-discrimination and harassment.
  • County-led discussion about intentional and reasonable efforts (marketing, relationship building, partnerships, community assessments, accommodations, etc.) carried out by current office colleagues including successes and challenges.
  • County-led sharing of how knowledge of county residents can inform and drive educational programming and outreach decisions towards protected audiences and those that have been underserved in the county.
  • Discussion of anticipated action steps for the coming year on public notification of the Extension non-discrimination policy; intentional and reasonable efforts for reaching categorically protected audiences; and movement toward parity in program participation.

Coaching from the Civil Rights Leadership Team

Members of the Extension Civil Rights Leadership Team will serve as leaders for the county review visiting team.  The leader of the visiting team will schedule coaching sessions a few months in advance of civil rights day to assist county offices in their preparation.

If you have questions about the Civil Rights Review Day process, feel free to contact the members of the Civil Rights Leadership Team.

Preparation Checklist

The following checklist of activities and questions will help you prepare for your Civil Rights “Expanding Access” Day.

  • Be aware of the latest demographic data for your county/area, particularly as it pertains to protected groups.
  • Be aware of organizations within the county/area that have large numbers of individuals from these protected groups as members.
  • Be familiar with the Civil Rights laws and regulations. If you’re not sure, look on the OAIC website.
  • Does everyone in your office know how to handle a Civil Rights discrimination complaint?
  • Do you have an “And Justice For All” poster prominently displayed in your office?
  • Do Equal Opportunity statements appear on all written and electronic materials and program announcements?
  • Locate the action plan from your last Civil Rights review and think about how the recommendations have been carried out. Contact the Office of Diversity and Inclusion if you can’t find your current action plan.
  • Review parity data [from Recording Results] and be ready to discuss how you see your efforts as contributing to working toward parity. Be sure to have copies of the parity data in your civil rights file.
  • Be sure everyone in the county office has completed the self-assessment and personal compliance plan in the past year and a copy is placed in the office Civil Rights file.
  • Do your Plans of Work include actions to expand access to historically underserved audiences?
  • Have you discussed with your County Extension Committee members our responsibility in civil rights and equal opportunity matters?
  • Can you document the number of individuals who participated in all direct educational programs during the past year by race, color, national origin, sex, and disability? To what extent were programs exclusively offered to one group?
  • Think about how your educational methods, materials, or teaching aids contribute to your expanding access strategies to increase representation by race, color, national origin, sex, and disability.
  • Think about how your newsletters, news releases or mass media efforts contribute to increased participation of individuals by race, color, national origin, sex, and disability. Make sure examples are in your office civil rights file.
  • Get your civil rights files in order. For guidance, consult Civil Rights Documentation Requirements for County Offices
  • Partner non-discrimination letters are up to date.

Guiding Questions for Discussion

  • What federally protected and/or underserved audiences are in your county population?  Have you decided to make special efforts to reach out to them?  Why/Why not?
  • Discuss the demographics and characteristics of these protected and/or underserved audiences (ex: where they live in the county, their history in the county, income levels, literacy and English language proficiency, issues that impact various groups of residents, educational need your office identified, their power and privilege in the county, etc.)
  • What partnerships have helped you reach this audience?  How did you develop relationships and build trust?
  • What were your intentional and reasonable efforts to engage and interact with this audience to increase or establish their participation in your program(s)? What were the activities you incorporated into your program planning, design and implementation to expand access and be inclusive?
  • What was your role in expanding access if not an educator?  What role did support staff play?
  • What barriers have you encountered in attempting to expand access?
  • What have you done to overcome the barriers?
  • How do your participant numbers reflect the impact of your outreach efforts?
  • What are your goals for moving forward?  What efforts should you consider and apply?
  • What action steps might you include in a civil rights action plan to continue building on this effort?
  • Action Plan

    The action plan should move the local office toward reaching parity for protected groups and expanding access to other underrepresented groups.  Action plans should describe actions you will take in the next 1-3 years and include:
    • A brief demographic overview of the county
    • Action items detailing
      • name of protected groups targeted for intentional and reasonable efforts,
      • specific efforts and actions expected to be carried out with actionable steps,
      • expected community partners,
      • names and roles of Extension colleagues participating in the outreach,
      • estimated timeline for short- and long-term efforts.

    For more information, including an example of a county action plan, see Policy and Procedure for Developing and Sustaining Civil Rights Action Plans.