Alison McCarthyWe’ve been busy this Spring! As promised, we want to be transparent in sharing our journey to incorporate Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) principles here at Spark. This blog post describes our DEI updates since May.

Tools for sharing and reflection

One of the early activities identified in our DEI plan was to develop a project checklist. The intent of this checklist is to ensure we consider DEI principles in all Spark projects. Not all the items on the list will apply to all projects. However, it reminds us of our values and probes us to ask questions like: “Could this element be included/considered? Why or why not?” It is meant to be a tool to help us think critically about the incorporation of DEI principles into our regular practice.

As we drafted the project checklist, we also recognized the importance of integrating DEI elements into the work before the project launch phase. We decided to develop a project proposal checklist so DEI can be integrated from the beginning of the project design process.

We adapted our checklists from work by Public Policy Associates and Equitable Evaluation. While we are still piloting them and anticipate they will be tweaked over time, we’d love to hear any thoughts or feedback you have on what we’ve come up with so far:

It’s also important to note that we understand that something as complex and crucial as DEI cannot be boiled down to a couple of checklists – we don’t see these tools as the end-all-be-all. Rather, we see them as a starting point, a way to prompt us to integrate these values into everyday practice.

DEI Awareness and Learning

In addition to our process tools, we’ve looked at other ways to elevate DEI within Spark.

As a team, we started regular DEI Discussions where we select an article, video, podcast, or other resources on a relevant DEI topic and get together to discuss it over coffee. Our first conversation was centered on a Denverite article on the gentrification of the Welton Corridor/Five Points. Since Spark is housed on Welton Street, we felt it was important to consider how we interact (or don’t) with our neighbors and the changes occurring in the neighborhood. We asked ourselves an important question: If Spark were located somewhere else, what, if anything, would change? The question spurred thoughtful reflection and rich discussion. Next month, we plan to focus on inclusion in the workplace, basing our discussion on this article from Psychology Today.

Additionally, Spark’s Social Innovators Breakfast Series launched a special summer focus: Navigating the Unintended Consequences of Systems Change. Though we anticipate DEI will be an important component for all events in the series, we decided to kick things off with a DEI-specific topic: Navigating the Unintended Consequences of moving from Equality to Equity. You can listen to the panel discussion on our YouTube channel. Keep an eye out for next blog post, which will be a reflection on this conversation and the lessons that emerged!