Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at Ventures Nonprofit: An update

Ventures DEI work is an ongoing journey that has been evolving over the past several years. A commitment to diversity is at the heart of what we do at Ventures; we identified it as one of our six core values in 2015. In 2019 we invested more resources and time to our commitment of this work. We utilized the services of the consultant Neural Shifts who, with their intentional approach, provided us with a team development opportunity. That work led to the formation of our first ever DEI Team with staff members.

The team commenced its work in late 2019 and early 2020 had to face the challenges that Covid19 brought to the organization.  The DEI team stopped to focus on pivoting our services and providing rapid response and support to our clients.

As the team resumed its work in mid-2020 we encountered other challenges. First, the departure of several colleagues made the team smaller. Other challenges that surfaced were Ventures’ role in the response to and participation in regional community events, annual celebrations, and social justice movements. As a team we realized that the original work and focus set in 2019 had been shifted and our work in early 2021 was impacted by that. We acknowledged our limitations in that moment and we knew we needed more professional guidance.

In late 2021 and with the support of members of the board of directors, we created and posted a Request for Proposal (RFP) with the purpose and scope of work that the DEI consultant would provide to the DEI team. The focus for the consultants would be the following:

  • Examine and provide recommendations on the structure of the DEI team, and help it to define clear goals, roles, and expectations.
  • Design and implement a DEI action plan that aligns with our organization’s 5-year strategic plan, which includes sections related to staff compensation and retention, program development, and fundraising.
  • Identify new opportunities to integrate components of DEI throughout our work, aligning with our mission, values, goals, capacity, and funding constraints.
  • Create parameters that guide Ventures in when and how to respond to and participate in regional community events, social justice movements, and dialogue that advances racial and gender equity.

After interviewing several applicants and a careful review process, we named Educational and Community Strategies as the consultants guiding our work. The contract with the consultant would last six months starting in January 2022. The work would be divided in different phases. The last phase concluded with the creation of our DEI action plan.

Because of the separation of each phase, we want to acknowledge that our work in relation to annual celebrations such as Black History Month and Women’s History Month were put on hold to allow the consulting work to guide us on our work in relation to such events. Now, with some of the work already in place, we feel comfortable to continue and bring that work back starting with Pride Month.

We would like also note that as the DEI work continued to evolve, Ventures identified an area where initiatives around this work would live.  In November 2021, José Vazquez, the Director of Programs received a promotion by the addition of Diversity and Inclusion Initiatives.  To ensure the sustainability of this work in relation to this position, the same DEI consultants will be revising and providing guidance to the scope of Ventures’ work. The title for this position as it stands is the Director of Programs and Diversity and Inclusion Initiatives.

For any questions about our DEI journey and/or the initiatives currently in the works, please reach out to José Vazquez directly at [email protected].