Investing in a framework and infrastructure to meet our equity commitments

As part of Repair the World’s commitment to racial justice and our organizational value of solidarity (achdoot), and in the spirit of annual cycles in Judaism that invite us to recommit and deepen our commitments year after year, Repair has drafted an equity commitment list for the 2021-2022 program year. Repair is in a period of transition and change, and is inspired to steward our organization from a moment to a movement with a continued commitment to racial justice alongside an intersectional equity framework to guide our work.  

As a Jewish service movement, organizations and leadership teams across the country continue to work to make clear and decisive actions toward equity. We lean on our value of strengthening each other, hitchazkut, by publishing our commitments with the intention to call others into this work and inspire Jewish organizations to call for systemic change and continue embedding anti-racism into organizational practices both internally and externally. We know we will make mistakes along the way – and that what we do is not perfect – but we are committed to continuing to learn and advance.

In 2020, Repair articulated racial justice commitments in the wake of a national moment and to become more explicit in our commitment to anti-racism, equity and inclusion. We are continuing to realize the 2020 anti-racism commitments made and strengthening our practice to become an anti-racist organization. To date, we have:

Hired a senior advisor on racial justice, Yolanda Savage-Narva, who advised our organizational policies and led regular racial justice training for staff, board members, fellows and corps members, including empowerment and coaching sessions specifically for those identifying as BIPOC. Repair has contracted Lindsey Newman as its equity consultant to work with for the next stage of the work.Diversified representation on our national board of directors and have onboarded seven new board members, including three new board members who identify as BIPOC, two who identify as Jews of Color, and two who do not identify as Jewish.Reviewed our governance processes, resulting in a revised set of bylaws, board responsibilities and giving expectations. We also adjusted our board giving protocols to require giving a “top philanthropic gift,” making joining our board more accessible for lay leaders of varying backgrounds and increasing giving from board members who have greater capacity.Launched a racial equity fund for fellows and staff who have been impacted by racial injustice to access additional funding for mental and physical health, professional development, transportation, housing and other financial assistance needs. We also launched an additional equity fund for corps members in need of additional financial support. In year one, these funds collectively provided $61,826 in financial assistance to staff, fellows and corps members.Updated a compensation philosophy, revised salary bands and created a responsibility matrix to address implicit bias in staff compensation and promotion.Expanded the work of our internal racial justice and equity working group, including hosting monthly staff community conversations on equity topics and leading a fundraising and service campaign for local Black-led partners during August, in partnership with Give828, a platform that promotes financial giving for Black-led and Black-benefitting organizations. 

Additionally, through Repair’s external evaluation, diversity continues to be seen in important ways throughout Repair’s programs: 

Between 12-24% of participants with Repair identify as having a disability;25% of participants and corps members identify as BIPOC, and 10% of Repair the World fellows and alumni identify as BIPOC;40% of corps members, fellows and alumni identify as LGBTQIA+. Among episodic participants, close to 20% identify as LGBTQIA+;72% of participants identify as Jewish; and81% of BIPOC-led service partners reported being able to serve more people in their community because of their partnership with Repair. 

Building off last year’s commitments, we now find ourselves with the opportunity to invest in a framework and infrastructure that will generate more explicit commitments in the future and lay the groundwork for equity work that will become integrated into all areas of Repair’s adaptive strategy and programs. During this period of transition and change at Repair, we will balance exploratory work with explicit annual commitments for this year affirming that action and learning, na’aseh v’nishma, are inextricably linked. The following are Repair the World’s 2021-2022 commitments.

We will broaden Repair’s commitment to equity, inclusion and justice to an intersectional equity framework. A broadening of scope will require Repair to be more specific in our identity-based inclusion work, while maintaining an explicit racial justice lens. We will hire an equity consultant to assess and inform how to engage in strategies moving forward that will actively consider identity-based inclusion efforts in regards to ableism, sexism, homophobia, biphobia, transphobia, classism and religious and ethnic oppression. We commit to presenting a list of actionable steps needed to integrate an equity framework into our adaptive strategy.We commit to operationalizing our equity work through creating accountability systems. To achieve this commitment, we will focus on: Ensuring all staff consider their individual and team annual goals in the context of an equity lens and develop guidelines of accountability to review the progress of those goals as part of the semi-annual employee review process;Staff recruitment, hiring, & onboarding:Review of hiring materials to be revisited  bi-annually through an equity filter and expand our recruitment platforms in order to reach more diverse candidates to support staff, fellows, and service corps recruitment;Collecting demographic data in order to better understand the diversity of current candidate pools;Working with an equity consultant to revise our standards regarding recruitment with a focus on delivering a more diverse pool of candidates for staff roles, investing in JOC/POC leadership within our organization, and refining the process from recruitment through onboarding of new staff to ensure that each person feels included, valued and supported; and  Reevaluating staff compensation philosophy, salary bands, and fellow stipends, sharing out relevant findings and changes made as a result of that process.We commit to increased staff training for intersectional diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice to ensure a foundation of clear understanding and expectations for an actively supportive and inclusive environment for all staff. In addition to annual all-staff training, there will be additional training designed specifically for managers across the organization to provide tools on how to acknowledge and mitigate the various power dynamics in manager/manager relationships by an external facilitator.We commit to empowering Repair’s staff to make equitable decisions in their day-to-day work. This commitment is the opportunity for practical application and concrete action in which all employees share ownership and accountability of Repair’s commitment to intersectional equity within the operating frameworks we commit to create within the organization. We will create a series of templates, checklists and frameworks to guide staff in making more accessible and inclusive day-to-day choices in the context of internal/external communication, virtual and in-person events/programming, and purchasing decisions. This commitment embodies the value of mitzvah goreret mitzvah – one positive action leads to more positive actions, honoring that in order to achieve long-term equity, each incremental act is necessary to move the work forward.  We will shift the name of the Equity Fund established previously to the Economic Access Fund.  The fund supports staff, fellows and corps members who have been impacted by injustice to thrive in our professional ecosystem. The fund is intended to remove immediate barriers to participation in programs, including transportation, mental health support and required technology. The fund is intended to help bridge economic gaps experienced in our service and nonprofit spaces. We also intend to increase the fund from $50k to $100k as part of this commitment.  We will participate in the Keshet Leadership Cohort for Non-Profits to deepen our LGBTQ inclusion work at Repair. During this year-long commitment, we will assess the current state of culture, programs and policies as it relates to LGBTQ inclusion and celebration in the organization, as well as, develop an action plan alongside a coach who will support progress to deepen commitments in order that Repair is a great place to work and serve for LGBTQ individuals and their families.  We will continue the national board of directors commitment to equity through:Continuing board training, including at least annual DEI training for the board as well as reviewing the national board onboarding process with an equity lens to ensure robust DEI training as part of onboarding.Developing and adopting an inclusive travel policy for board members to ensure in-person attendance is not a hindrance to board participation. Expanding and diversifying the board pipeline to the national board of directors with an intersectional equity framework by mapping and strengthening pathways from local/lay leadership to the national board.

As we begin a new year, the scope and scale of these commitments are a challenge we welcome. By formalizing our commitments in this manner, we also hold ourselves accountable to not only meet them but to also learn in chevruta, engaging in conversation with the different voices and experiences of our community and from other organizations who also share a deep commitment to becoming more equitable. In that spirit, we express deep gratitude to all of our teachers and partners who have inspired us and blazed the trail, especially the Jews of Color Initiative and Not Free to Desist, who elevate and resource this work for all. In all that we do at Repair, our work involves dynamic partnerships, centers the individual, and involves meaningful learning. Our approach to equity is no different.

Ryan Cohen serves on Repair the World’s board of directors as its governance chair. Cindy Greenberg is president and CEO of Repair the World.  

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