Dear CRG Community,
In an effort to increase awareness 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 only a part of our ongoing and evolving process towards making Central Rock Gym a safer and more diverse community for everyone.
Partnerships with community organizations: we are working with leaders in the BIPOC community to establish relationships with local non-profit organizations that serve underrepresented youth. We are providing long-term free access and climbing to the groups listed below (some groups have started and others will begin post COVID restrictions):
- 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)
- Youth in Action Rhode Island
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 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.
Training: 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, 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.
Diversity Fund: many of our members have expressed their desire to help increase diversity in our sport and maintain an environment where everyone feels welcome and safe. We have established an option for members to add a $5 donation to their monthly membership fees that will go towards supporting diversity initiatives. If you are interested in adding the $5 monthly donation to your membership, just let us know the next time you stop by your local CRG. All funds collected from this initiative are evenly distributed between:
- Melanin Base Camp: A media company that creates incredible weekly content geared towards highlighting Black, Brown, Asian, Indigenous and Queer People of Color who love the outdoors. They have recently created a film on Sabrina Chapman, who is trying to send her first 5.14a.
- Waypoint Adventure: Their mission is to challenge youth and adults with disabilities to discover their purpose, talents and strengths through the transforming power of adventure. Waypoint holds regular climbing events for their clients at our Boston area gyms. They also host fundraisers and climb-a-thons out of our Watertown and Waltham gyms every year. Check them out at www.waypointadventure.org.
- Climbing for Change: This organization was founded by pro-climber Kai Lightner. They work to connect underserved communities with individuals and organizations that seek to increase minority participation in rock climbing and the outdoor adventure industry. From athletes to industry leaders or film makers, they aim to make our industry a more inclusive environment. Check them out at: www.climbing4change.org.
- Diversify Outdoors: This organization is a coalition of social media influencers – bloggers, athletes, activists, and entrepreneurs – who share the goal of promoting diversity in outdoor spaces where BIPOC, LGBTQ+, and other diverse identities have historically been marginalized and silenced. They are passionate about promoting equity and access to the outdoors for all – that includes being body positive and celebrating different skill levels and abilities. Check them out at: www.diversifyoutdoors.com.
Sliding Scale Membership: while we are committed to providing quality climbing access to the communities we serve, we recognize that for some our membership pricing can be a barrier to our sport. Each gym has up to 10 new memberships per month that it can offer at our sliding scale rates of $39-$49 a month. Click here to learn more.
Finally, we plan to bring in speakers and athletes who can present their lived experience in the outdoors to our community. 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.
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.