After almost a year since our last public update regarding Apogee’s progress towards specific initiatives related to diversity, equity, and inclusion, we are excited to provide this status report to our community about our recent efforts and what we have been focusing on this season!
Because we are a small team (nine folks in the office in total) we decided to pinpoint our focus and efforts on what felt like tangible and achievable goals, rather than making large blanket statements to “check the box.” We want to be able to reflect back in September 2022 on the goals we set for our 2022 summer season and feel like we were able to move the needle and make Apogee a more accessible, inclusive, and diverse community in concrete ways. Specifically, we have focused on initiatives that will help to increase access to our programs both for potential staff members and students from different backgrounds.
Highlighted below are the steps we have taken to address each of those goals.
Increasing Access For Our Staff:
Because of the nature of seasonal experiential-education work, we meet with qualified candidates every year who simply can’t afford to work with us. To that end, we wanted to find a way to help bridge the financial gap for positions in the outdoor industry that many applicants face when coming from marginalized communities. We are proud to have launched our Additional Financial Support program in advance of this hiring season – this program allows seasonal staff members to apply for additional financial assistance in addition to their summer stipend. We designed this as a “need-blind” process so that our hiring committee does not have access to the information while making their decisions to ensure that financials are not a factor.
We also recognize that running our staff training here in Maine can make it challenging financially for some leaders to make their way to us; we have introduced a travel stipend to help reduce the costs of flights or the burden of paying for gas. All leaders will receive a stipend, regardless of if they applied for Additional Financial Aid through our new program.
Increasing Access For Our Students:
In an effort to help bring even more students from different backgrounds on our trips, we have increased the number of slots that we offer to organizations working with students from marginalized communities, specifically Beacon Academy and Success Academy. Additionally, we enjoy a terrific partnership with the Wildflower for Kids organization, a non-profit that provides different opportunities to kids that have lost one or both parents.
And, since its founding in 2011, we have worked closely with the To The Top Foundation, a small non-profit funded largely by Apogee alumni families that provides need-based scholarships to Apogee students every year. For the first time, Apogee families will see an option to donate directly to To the Top as they complete pre-summer documents. Even if a family does not wish, or is not able, to donate, our hope is to bring To The Top’s mission to the attention of our entire community.
We hope that our efforts do not ever feel or sound “finished,” but rather that we continue to build and expand on initiatives in the years to come. Building an inclusive community has always been at the heart of Apogee’s mission; and we have even more projects that we are excited to roll out for our 2023 season.