Vermont Humanities

Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Access

Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Access

DEIA stands for Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Access.  At Vermont Humanities, we know that words matter, and these particular words can mean different things to different people from different communities.  These words are frequently used in political or media discourse, and sometimes are employed to create a wedge between groups of people.

We do not use these words to create division at Vermont Humanities: we respect our state’s motto, “Freedom and Unity.”  Although we recognize that there are many different definitions of these terms, below is one set of definitions that we use when considering your grant application:

Diversity:  Your organization or project includes people from a wide variety of identities or backgrounds.  You can show a broad spectrum of participation by including people of differing gender identities, racial backgrounds, abilities, age, class, religion, sexual orientation, veterans’ status, and more.  Diversity can look different in every community and can vary widely between projects.

Equity:  Your organization is making a sincere commitment to ensuring that historically marginalized people or communities can fully participate in and lead (or help to lead) your work or project.  Equity is different from equality.  Equality means that everyone is treated equally; equity means that those who have been historically or are currently marginalized have the tools, status, and respect that they need to be full participants in, and influence the direction of, your project.

Inclusion: Your organization is working towards full engagement with all members of your community.  This may mean that you are altering historic practices that make it hard for people to participate.  For example, you may change your meeting times to better include single parents, or you may raise funds to compensate participants for their time and labor.  You could broaden the definition of “Vermonter” to be more welcoming, or you may adjust meeting locations to better include members of your community in spaces where they feel most comfortable.

Access: Your organization is striving to build the structures and provide the resources needed for anyone to engage with your project regardless of their ability, disability, or any other limiting factor.  Yes, this means that you need to be in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Vermont’s public accommodation laws, but you should also strive to go beyond the base requirements of access to become truly accessible and provide opportunities for everyone to lead.

A final note on the journey:  Please recognize that we are intentionally using phrases like “sincere commitment,” “working towards,” and “striving to build.”  We recognize that this work is a journey and not a checklist, that we are all in different places and stages within our communities.  We also know that the work will look different from town to town. There is no “one size fits all” answer that we are looking for.  Tell us where you are at, show us that you have the ability to reflect on your current status, and recognize where you want to focus your change efforts.  We are grateful for your efforts.

Vermont Humanities*** April 17, 2024