" Hello friends and neighbors,
In the last week both I, as executive director of CCE Sullivan, and Chris Watkins, the executive director of the statewide CCE system, published statements on behalf of our organizations with respect to committing to antiracism in our work, condemning systemic and institutional racism, making promises to do our part in dismantling a system that hurts Black and Brown communities, and calling for direct action by educating young people to engage with and change those systems.
As a historically white organization, I was pleasantly surprised by the positive and supportive responses to those statements. Since those posts, CCE Sullivan has received inquiries from our local community asking us what our plan is. How will we participate in changing these systems? What have we already done to address inequities or lack of voice from Black, Indigenous, People of Color in our organization?
These questions are timely and appreciated! Recently, some of our staff began a correspondence suggesting we reach out to find the folx in Sullivan County that are heading up this work so we could invite them to help us figure out our role, within our mission, to dismantle racism within our system, our programs, and our community at large. If you or someone you know is doing this work, and are willing to have this conversation with us, please email me at email@example.com or call me at 845-798-1258. That is my cell phone number, on which I receive several spam calls a week; so if I don’t answer please leave a message so I can call you back. Feel free to text as well. You can also leave a message on my office phone at 845-292-6180 extension 106, but that is not the quickest way to reach me. Our Facebook and Instagram DMs are open, too.
We have a long way to go, but to give a snapshot of some of our efforts, particularly over the last three years, CCE Sullivan has an Affirmative Action, Diversity, and Inclusion Plan reviewed and approved annually by our elected board of directors; an internal Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee; adopted HR and subcontractor policies that prohibit discrimination and harassment based on race and other identities; expanded our traditional community-based youth development program models to afterschool programs that “meet kids where they’re at”; provided staff training in implicit bias, white privilege, Opening Doors, and other models (we need more), hired bilingual staff and translated our most used outreach materials to Spanish; reviewed our compensation plan to ensure equitable compensation based on education, experience, and length of service; focused board recruitment to be reflective of the entire community (we haven’t done this with our Program Advisory Committee yet); assisted in the creation of the Evergreen Community Garden in Monticello; and other outreach projects that we will summarize in another write up. We’re currently working on an educational TikTok video series for young people about writing elected officials, engaging with local government, and civic engagement strategies.
With all that said, according to ongoing survey data, our record at meaningfully engaging Black, Indigenous, People of Color in our programs is dismal, particularly among adult volunteers. Our afterschool programs were helping us build relationships with Black and Brown children and their parents; but when everything shut down for COVID-19, we did not have a strategy in place to sustain those relationships. As a “stop-gap” we lent our friends at Sullivan Allies Leading Together (SALT) our Sullivan Fresh Market on the Move van so they could visit underserved communities, provide food and hope, and keep contact and conversations going. As an organization, we’re still figuring out how to adjust all our program areas to the COVID world, while also being mindful that we need to be open to new strategies and opportunities to make our programs and outreach meaningful and accessible to marginalized communities.
And so, once again, I invite those folx in the community who are interested in helping CCE Sullivan be and do better at removing barriers to accessing our programs and outreach for Black folx and others, in our work."
-Colleen Monaghan, Executive Director
Last updated June 17, 2020