Equity & Inclusion
A Message from the Horizons National Board of Directors
Dear Horizons Community,
This year has been a challenging time for our country, our community, and the young people and families Horizons supports. As we reflect back on the last several months and look ahead to the future, we want to share what Horizons National has learned so far, how we have adjusted our approach, and, going forward, where we are placing our focus as an organization.
First, we want to reiterate that our Board and our organization unequivocally denounce and condemn racism in all forms, and we explicitly avow that Black Lives Matter. As an organization, the events of 2020 deepened our conviction that we must do more to contribute to systemic change by centering racial equity and social justice in our work.
The Horizons mission has always been focused on narrowing education and opportunity gaps – gaps that have been widening at an alarming rate due to the global health crisis. COVID-19 has kept students out of the classroom for months, and continues to compromise learning time for many, resulting in significant learning loss. The barriers created by systemic racism mean this learning loss is felt disproportionately in communities of color, which is why we are doubling down on our commitment to provide more students of color with the resources they need to be successful in school and in life.
In 2020, we encouraged creativity in implementing the Horizons summer experience, working with affiliates to support the pivot to virtual programming, with a focus on physical and mental wellbeing.
We are proud to share that every one of the 64 Horizons sites across the country delivered programs to their communities in 2020. Even as they adapted to develop blended virtual and at-home offerings, many affiliates were fully engaged in efforts to fill gaps in food access, mental health services, one-to-one tutoring, and family support. Many of the adjustments made to the Horizons model will become permanent. We will continue to build on this learning and respond to the needs of affiliates and their communities with passion and agility.
The Horizons National Board actively seeks ways to support our staff and affiliates to address systemic racism, gaps of opportunity, and a rapidly changing education landscape. In 2019, we engaged an EDI consultant to help us develop an equity agenda and action plan with clear goals and metrics for our board and staff. Elements of the plan include:
- Visibly and wholly committing to goals for advancing EDI
- Modernizing board governance structures toward systemic racial equity and inclusion
- Improving recruiting strategies to ensure more BIPOC candidates serve on the HN Board
- Developing policies and practices to create a welcoming and inclusive culture that fosters a sense of belonging
Looking forward, we will be carefully examining how the Horizons model should evolve to further advance equity and address systemic racism.
The impacts of education inequity will continue to be felt by students in under-resourced communities and students of color, and disparities in education will continue to be a challenge for the entire country. As the need for programs like Horizons grows, all of us at Horizons National are more committed than ever to do our part to build a more equitable and more just society.
Amy Chan Downer
Jon Michael Reese
J. Ronald Totaro
Ricky Van Veen