Northwest Outward Bound School is committed to actively listening, learning, and engaging with our community to better serve our students across all backgrounds (race, gender identity, socioeconomic status, immigration status, etc.). We understand that today’s outdoor culture is predominantly white and we are working to change the reality. Our vision is to be a leader in diversifying the outdoors with the goal of investing in high-quality programming for all of our students. As we seek out and welcome new and differing perspectives, we can continue to better understand our students’ needs and break down barriers in access to the outdoors.
We have invested in robust training for all our field and administrative staff. Instructors are continuously being trained in trauma and equity curriculum, and they are required to report incidents through our internal reporting database. Administrative staff are held accountable on their success of yearly equity goals and will be evaluated on an annual basis. Annual data will be tracked, collected, and used for improvement.
We acknowledge that this work does not happen overnight, but we are committed to advancing our equity, inclusion, and diversity work. Our staff have begun with the necessary changes needed to continue creating inclusive experiences for students by bringing down financial barriers, acknowledging Indigenous lands, and making this work a priority in our Strategic Framework. People of color and historically marginalized communities have been excluded from outdoor experiences. Now is the time for us to change reality. With our work, we will create an inclusive outdoor space where everyone can form connections, develop leadership skills, and discover more about themselves than they ever thought possible.
8% increase in gender diversity on Open Enrollment courses, serving more students across the gender spectrum
49% of students, 66% of administrative staff, and 50% of our Board of Directors identify as women or girls
56% of students participated in our programming with partial or full scholarships.
33% (approximately) of students served were Black, Indigenous, or People of Color.
Current Actions We Are Taking
Aligned with our Strategic Framework, NWOBS's Equity, Inclusion, and Diversity model focuses on community relationships, equitable policies & procedures, training & education, compensation, progression, advancement, and staff recruitment & retention.
Establish and expand current partners for our partnerships courses
Establish and deepen community service partner relationships in our 3 locations (e.g., deepening our partnership with Portland Parks and Recreation)
Continue to prioritize low income students and people with marginalized identities in awarding scholarships
We plan to award 70K in partial and full scholarships on our wilderness courses in 2022 and the majority of our school programs are no-cost for students
Equitable Policies & Procedures
Create an Operations Manual that increases consistent understanding and use of hiring and onboarding policies
Introduce a new HR system that integrates payroll, application tracking, and performance management
Adjust safety priorities to focus on mental and emotional support for staff and students
Track incidents of emotional safety, including microaggressions, bias behavior, and harassment
Training & Education
Audit our curriculum and program delivery and develop a plan for follow-up steps and improvement
Increase our level of staff training in EID
Our students have faced unprecedented challenges during the pandemic, and our staff need to be incredibly well equipped to support them in their healing and recovery. We are standardizing technical training across our three programs and building depth into the Mental Health First Aid and Trauma Informed Care training that we require of all staff.
For our 7th consecutive year, new staff will learn the fundamentals of equity and inclusion as part of our standard staff training. Return staff will have an opportunity to dive considerably deeper in the work of power, privilege and allyship. We’ve structured our staff training and advancement systems to require and incentivize these essential areas of learning and growth.
Roll out consistent pay bands for admin across NWOBS (completed in January 2022)
Launch phase two of our Advancement Plan for field staff, which increases pay rates for every field staff position (completed in January 2022)
Develop and set baseline for key diversity metrics, and make progress with makeup of Board, Board Committees, and Staff
Continue dedicating time to our Staff/Board EID committee. The EID committee is guided by our Strategic Framework and comprises Board, field and admin staff from our 3 bases. We meet on a monthly basis and determine priority of projects and are responsible for communicating EID efforts to our respective departments
Building in layers of admin positions at bases and headquarters
Staff Recruitment & Retention
Develop and deploy staff satisfaction survey methodology to identify our baseline metrics and areas for growth
Institutionalize annual commitment, signing, and referral bonus offerings to increase access to non-OB trained candidates with diverse experience in the field
Launch phase two of our Advancement Plan for field staff, which incorporates a structure for recruiting field staff into advanced roles