Item 5A. Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Update

CLOSED: This discussion has concluded.

Purpose of Study Session:

UPDATE ON DIVERSITY, EQUITY AND INCLUSION INITIATIVES.


Background Information:

At the special meeting on July 9, 2020, the Board of Commissioners approved the 2040 System Plan to guide the priorities and focus of the Park District for the next twenty years. The vision of this plan is to connect everyone to nature every day. To achieve that vision, three goals were identified with the first goal, You Belong Here, being the cornerstone of the plan. This goal focuses on ensuring our parks, amenities and programs are welcoming and convenient to all people. This goal and the vision of the Plan can only be achieved by taking intentional actions to better serve our entire community, including our Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) community members.

At that same meeting, the Board directed the Superintendent and staff to proceed with the recommended strategies and actions related to diversity, equity and inclusion within the Park District. As part of that direction, the Board requested that staff provide regular updates on the progress and impacts related to these strategies and actions.

Following is an overview of some of the actions, initiatives and programs that have occurred since the previous update at the Board meeting on September 17, 2020.

Program Partnerships

  • Staff have developed new partnerships to help strengthen relationships and connections with nature and our parks.
    1. CLUES (Communidades Latinas Unidas En Servicio), the largest Latino-led nonprofit organization in Minnesota are working on a variety of initiatives including Recreation Pass Plus signups, Group Camp training and planning a few different outings at Elm Creek this summer.
    2. SEWA-AIFW enhances overall wellness for the South Asian community. After many attempts that were canceled due to the pandemic, we were able to work together to host an event for seniors at Fish Lake in April. Through this partnership, we also distributed 71 of the winter gear and information kits.
    3. Many new partners are signed on to participate in a Group Camping Leader Training this spring and intend to bring groups out camping at Three Rivers this summer. Partners participating in the training include CLUEs and Wicoie Nandagikendan Urban.
  • Mississippi Gateway staff are building on the successful Explorer Camp and Club programs, creating new partnerships and expanding offerings with existing partners.
    • After school Explorer Programs at Brooklyn Center Elementary and Zanewood Elementary are extremely popular, so much so that staff have difficulty keeping up with the interest and demand.
    • Staff have reconnected with Dar Al-Farooq Community Center in Bloomington and will be providing a few days of Explorer Camp this summer and will also offer two overnight camps at the Baker OLC for teens and young adults this summer.
  • Staff are continuing to promote and expand participation in the Recreation Pass Plus program through hands-on sign ups, hosted events and networking.
    1. A new partnership with Second Harvest Heartland is providing numerous opportunities to have a presence at summer meal and food distribution locations. This partnership is also providing opportunities to raise awareness of the SNAP program among Recreation Pass Plus participants.
    2. To help introduce Rec Pass Plus participants to new activities and parks, staff are coordinating monthly sampler events where attendees can try a new activity including free lessons and rental equipment, have a guided exploration of the host park and learn how to use the program’s benefits to enjoy the activity on their own.
  • We are working with BIPOC community members to develop culturally relevant programs in our parks in cost effective ways.
    1. After enjoying Zumba at the Hispanic Heritage Celebration at Fish Lake in October, participants asked for additional programs to be added. Staff offered more sessions in the fall and are working on adding dates starting this spring.
    2. The Zen Bin will be leading weekly yoga classes in the parks this summer.
    3. Outdoor Rec and Community Engagement staff are working with University of Minnesota Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education (SNAP-Ed) to provide 3 sessions of fishing instruction in May to cohort for fathers from Hennepin County. The intention is to teach the entire process of fishing, from setting up their rods to fileting and cooking the fish.
    4. Nicole Fernandez, a Community & Cultural Liaison, developed a healing walk program at French Regional Park. Four guided walks are scheduled for this spring, two have already occurred with 10 – 20 participants and two more will be occurring in May. Nicole will also be developing routes at other park locations and will be exploring opportunities to make these available as self-guided activities.

Staff Diversification

  • Human Resources and Community Engagement staff have been connecting with community groups that provide work opportunities and career connections to BIPOC community members and those facing financial barriers.
    1. Prosperity Now works with foreign-born Minnesotans who hold college degrees but are under-employed helping to build skills to successfully navigate and work for a U.S. employer and also helps employers remove barriers and create empowering cultures for hiring immigrant professionals.
    2. Human Resources staff have established a partnership with Twin Cities R!se (TCR) to provide internship opportunities for individuals who have gone through TCR’s career skills training and have been matched with Three Rivers due to an interest in the industry or a specific career path. TCR’s vision is to create a community of empowered individuals, especially men of color, who achieve long-term job success to support their families.
  • After a modified offering last summer due to the pandemic, the Pathways Internship program will be fully implemented this year. 80 applications were received and following group interviews, the internships will start in early June. Recruitment for the internship program focused on BIPOC youth and youth facing other barriers to employment.
  • Many departments and ERGs have placed a focus on DEI-related training, education and conversations. Topics have included white fragility, gender identity, Black history, and bias/micro aggressions.

Relationship to the System Plan

This update supports the following goals(s) of the System Plan:

  • Goal 1: You Belong Here
  • Goal 3: Lead by Example
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