Cultural Relevancy Series

“Participating in Justice Outside’s Cultural Relevancy program equipped our grantee partners with essential skills for building more equitable policies and procedures as they grow their work. It also helped them build community, share resources, and learn from each other.”
– Michele Perch, Senior Program Officer at William Penn Foundation

Justice Outside’s Cultural Relevancy Series is an 8-month series of virtual workshops offered in a cohort format. The workshops are designed for decision-makers at outdoor/environmental organizations, to build the capacity of leadership, staff, and board on cultural relevancy and equity. The Cultural Relevancy Series includes 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
  • Project action plan development and implementation for direct practice and 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: We will work with organizations to tailor our series to their needs. Common topics covered in the program include 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 in which 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 movement 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, inclusion for us all.

Funders Make A Difference

As leaders in outdoor equity, we’ve seen that organizations working towards education, conservation, and more in the outdoor-environmental field want to develop their cultural relevancy practices but struggle to devote the funding and direction to get started. Justice Outside partners with funders to offer the Cultural Relevancy Series to their grantees as an opportunity for leadership to engage in learning together without cost to the organization’s internal budget. These leaders form a powerful and dynamic learning community responsible for driving transformative change at their respective organizations.

Ready to Collaborate?

If you are interested in bringing the Cultural Relevancy Series to your grantee partners or organization, please email Dr. Mary Traylor, Director of Programs, at

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.”