Cultural Relevancy Series

Cultural relevancy is effectively reaching and engaging communities and their youth in a manner that is consistent with the cultural context and values of that community; while effectively addressing the disparities of diversity and inclusion within an organization’s entire structure.

Cultural Relevancy Series

Justice Outside’s Cultural Relevancy Series consists of a series of workshops designed for decision-makers at outdoor-focused organizations. These leaders form a powerful and dynamic learning community responsible for driving transformative change at their respective organizations. The workshops are designed to help participating organizations build the capacity of the organizations’ leadership, staff, and board on cultural relevancy and equity. The Cultural Relevancy Series included three major components:

  • Seminars covering foundational cultural relevancy concepts and their application in transforming program content and delivery, organizational culture, and operations.
  • Coaching sessions tailored to the needs of participating organizations, with a focus on helping each organization design cultural relevancy projects to steer systems-level change and long-term impact.
  • An opportunity for direct practice through the development and implementation of a project action plan to increase cultural relevancy in a priority area identified by each organization.

Program Overview

Seminars: The seminars consist of capacity-building modules, peer coaching, and community building. These sessions focus on organizational commitment to greater equity and inclusion. Participants will be encouraged to bring organizational documents for learning purposes.

Increased Equity and Relevancy Project: Participating organizations will determine a project that will result in increased equity within their organizations. Previous examples of projects include: Changing hiring and recruitment systems for increased equity, rewriting of HR and employee handbooks and policies, the creation of equity statements within embedded accountability measures, and board recruitment and retention for greater representation and equity. The projects will be supported by peer coaching during the series as well as organizational coaching from Justice Outside and additional specialists in the racial justice, environmental justice, and environmental sectors.

Organizational Coaching: Each participating organization will have the opportunity to receive up to ten hours of coaching. The purpose of coaching is to explore areas of organizational development, and to provide assistance in creating and implementing the project action plan.

Seminar Topics & Objectives: Topics for the cohort will be determined based on organizational needs. Topics in the past have included the following:

  • Social Justice / Environmental Justice – Explore related concepts and practices to move toward a just society; examine the historical context of exclusion in the United States and how this impacts communities.
  • Power & Privilege – Examine power and privilege dynamics and the impact these can have on communities; explore opportunities to leverage power and privilege.
  • Intentional Communication – Develop effective and intentional communication strategies for authentic relationship building between staff and program participants.
  • Strategic Planning – Analyze organizations’ strategic plans and if/how equity and inclusion are incorporated into the plan; explore opportunities to ground strategic plans in racial equity.
  • Community Outreach & Engagement – Explore the role of community voice in shaping narratives, and increased understanding of working with historically excluded communities.
  • Hiring & Recruitment – Analyze recruitment and hiring practices for implicit bias and explore avenues to incorporate community voice for greater diversity and representation.
  • Fund Development – Examine the ways development efforts and philanthropy at large can change in order to better engage the realities of communities of color.

Why Does Justice Outside Offer the Cultural Relevancy Series?

Justice Outside advances racial justice and equity in the outdoor and environmental movement. We shift resources to, build power with, and center the voices and leadership of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color because the health of current and future generations demands it. We recognize that the environmental sector is made up of largely white-led organizations, that are just now learning how to better engage, incorporate, and trust communities of color and their desires for a cleaner and more just world. We believe that our role, as a woman of color-led organization within a largely white environmental movement, can serve as a bridge to greater justice, equity, and inclusion for us all.

If you are interested in bringing the Cultural Relevancy Series to your grantees or organization, please email Dylan Kiyo Kennedy, Program Associate, at dylan@justiceoutside.org.

Please read our most recent publication on the topic of cultural relevancy, a case study of our Cultural Relevancy Series, entitled “Deepening Commitments: Working Toward Equity and Inclusion When Connecting Youth to the Outdoors.”

You may also be interested in one of our earlier publications, which documents the development of our Cultural Relevancy Series, entitled “Cultural Relevancy in the Outdoor Field, Beyond a Conversation: A Commitment to Action.”