Dear CRG Community,
In the wake of increased awareness on the impact of systemic racism on many within our country, we have been working hard to implement a comprehensive list of actions to increase diversity in our sport and support the BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) individuals within our community. We want to share the progress we have already made; however, these efforts are a small part of an ongoing and evolving process towards making Central Rock Gym a safer and more diverse community for everyone.
First, we have hired external consultants to facilitate a required four-phase Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) training program for our staff. Training modules from our facilitators include: Unconscious Bias Training, Intervention Training, Anti-Racist Training, Inclusive Leadership and Hiring Training, working with BIPOC youth training, and more. Staff will also receive ongoing DEI training as part of their professional development. Our goal with the training is to make sure we are providing a safe space for our BIPOC community members and all diverse groups as they engage with our space and staff.
Second, we are working with leaders in the BIPOC community to establish relationships with local non-profit organizations that serve underrepresented youth. So far, we have already created relationships at several locations (info below). As we reopen, and move past Covid 19 restrictions, we will be getting these programs started to serve the youth, and bring greater diversity to climbing:
- Boys and Girls Club of Worcester
- Boys and Girls Club of Metro South
- Syracuse Community Connections
- Big Brother Big Sister of Central Mass. & Metrowest
- Buffalo Urban League
- YES (Youth Enrichment Services)
- Nativity School of Worcester
- Lawrence Prospera
- Lynn Public Schools
- East Hartford Middle School
- PEACE Inc.
- LUK Inc. (Let Us Know Incorporated)
- Eagle Eye Institute of Holyoke
We will be providing long-term free access and climbing to the groups listed above. However, our commitment to diverse youth will go beyond free programming. We will give the youth climbers from these programs free memberships so they can access the gym beyond programming. We will give them a complete set of free climbing gear so they can feel additional ownership in our sport. As the seasons advance, we will offer full-ride scholarships to youth from these programs who find climbing particularly impactful in their lives, and make sure they can be part of our advanced and competitive teams at no cost. We believe that creating diversity in the long run starts with bold engagement with diverse youth NOW. In addition, we are planning to rollout an internship program for these young climbers as they become age appropriate. The youth of today will become the leaders of our industry tomorrow, and we want to do our part to ensure a more diverse future.
Third, we will begin holding regular BIPOC events (in addition to the Women’s, LGBTQ+, and Adaptive Climbing events) where members of this diverse community can come together and enjoy climbing. We plan to use these events as educational opportunities as well. Some months we will bring in speakers and athletes who can present their lived experience in the outdoors and climbing. We have already spoken with Kai Lightner, one of the nation’s most decorated athletes of color (https://rockandice.com/climbing-news/kai-lightner-open-your-eyes-to-the-reality-of-black-lives/), and he is planning to visit several of our CRG facilities.
Fourth, in addition to the financial commitments mentioned above (training costs, speaker costs, labor costs associated with the running of free programs, free gear and memberships costs for youth), many of our members have expressed their desire to contribute in efforts to increase diversity in our sport and maintain an environment where everyone feels welcome and safe. We are establishing an option for members to add a $5 donation to their monthly fees which will go towards supporting diversity initiatives (BIPOC, LGBTQ+, & Adaptive Climbing). While we will continue financially supporting these programs, we are inspired by our members drive to be a part of solutions that bring our communities together.
There is a lot of work to be done, and we are committed and focused on making Central Rock Gym an inclusive space for everyone