By Elsa Holguín
I knew when I accepted the role of President and CEO of the Denver Preschool Program (DPP) in 2019 that I was joining an organization that was committed to continuous improvement and valued equity. Little did I know that – less than a year later – both of these principles would be essential in dealing with the health, justice and economic pandemics, requiring us to lead with innovation while strengthening our equity values. To further strengthen these values, DPP has begun the important work to examine our approaches to develop a sharper focus on racial Equity, Inclusion and Diversity (EDI), as we first informed you of in our News Bites newsletter late last year. We’ve recommitted to evaluate our policies and practices in a transparent process.
One of the first steps the DPP board and staff has taken is recently completing a survey to help us start by understanding where we currently are. We held a mirror up to ourselves and provided feedback on how well we felt DPP does things such as:
- Creating a supportive, welcoming and equitable environment
- Encouraging belonging and inclusion via organizational policies and practices
- Promoting equity, cultivating diversity, fostering inclusion
- Ability to speak openly and authenticity about EDI values
- Committing to EDI for ourselves, our providers, our contractors and our families
We have started integrating EDI into our projects to allow us to implement practices that evaluate discussions from that lens. Next steps include using these insights to strengthen our internal application of EDI. We will develop action plans and establish clear frameworks for addressing these areas, using data to measure our progress over time.
This work is not just an internal process, as EDI can only be effective if we actively partner with our families, community preschool providers, preschool teachers, school districts and policymakers to gather feedback as we carefully listen. We will create feedback loops as we enhance our internal structures that reflect these learnings in our decision making. It is critical that we establish and enhance these relationships, which reflect the diversity of our communities.
One of my highest priorities in joining DPP was to increase both the quality and number of children served, particularly children of color, and the EDI work is a major step in that direction. As we reach out in the coming months, we hope that you will join us in our commitment to equity.