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Partnership building is our greatest and most effective ally in impacting positive change, which is why EarthShare of Texas is proud to announce a recent donation from TIAA, and wish to thank them sincerely for their generous grant of $5,000! After determining the grant would be put towards diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice, we worked with our member-led JEDI committee (Yes, you read that correctly. JEDI also stands for justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion) to determine how we could make an impact.


The JEDI committee chose to partner with SPARK Equity in Action for the facilitation of two training sessions as well as JEDI strategy support so we can sustain momentum after the sessions. The two DEI sessions are on unconscious bias awareness on October 26th and November 16th. EarthShare of Texas is holding these training sessions for our staff, board of directors, and the staff & leadership of our nonprofit members. 


It is important to TIAA and EarthShare of Texas that we build bridges and not barriers when it comes to our universal and community history, and the consequences of that history, on those whom we wish to have a great and profound impact. 


“I strongly believe that conservation organizations cannot fully deliver on their respective missions without embedding justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion values into their organizational DNA,” says Michelle Vyrn, Dir. Institutional Giving – Bat Conservation International, and co-chair of the EarthShare of Texas JEDI committee. “Through a JEDI lens, we can drive higher levels of innovation, achieve more sustainable conservation, and deliver a broader community-centered impact for both the people and places in which we work.”


Rachel Rosen with SPARK says research and data back this up as well. She notes: “According to the 2021 Inspirus Employee Engagement Trends & Forecast, increasing studies and reports on DEI have been released in recent years, and the evidence is overwhelmingly clear: the more diverse your workforce is, the more  innovative, creative, and financially successful it will be.” Rachel also mentioned, “this recent study showed 61% of employees surveyed believe diversity and inclusion strategies are both essential and beneficial.” 


By acknowledging and listening to the vast array of voices in our collective environmental challenges and triumphs, we can make a lasting difference banded together on all fronts.


SPARK Equity In Action was brought in for strategic support and facilitation of the sessions on unconscious bias. With a top-notch team and long record of DEIJ work, Rachel Rosen and Jye Turk will lead the sessions. 


There is no beating around the bush: the decision-makers in the environmental space have been predominantly and majority White. Tragically, much of the consequences of the exclusive decisions made have landed on the Native, Indigenous, Black, and Latinx communities. It is upon the decision-makers to take necessary and powerful steps toward oneness. We must uplift, respect, and connect the voices, ideas, and sacred ideologies of other perspectives, other corners of our own backyards and city blocks. 


As TIAA President and CEO Thasunda Duckett put it, “Now, more than ever, companies need to create cultures where employees bring their true, authentic selves to work. Fostering a diverse and inclusive environment is what’s best for the long-term health of our business.” It is necessary for a thriving ecosystem to understand how all its moving parts help the whole. In order for EarthShare of Texas to be integral in its efforts it must understand that ecosystem—positive and negative—before it can make a cohesive and resonating change. 


“So much of my life was defined by not knowing”

Ta-Nehisi Coates – Between the World and Me.

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