In Fall 2015, Education Writers Association (EWA) undertook a strategic planning process to address the dramatic shifts in its operating environment. During that planning process, EWA’s Board of Directors voted on a new vision, mission, and set of values for the organization. As outlined in the strategic plan, EWA made a commitment to embrace and advocate for a diversity of education writers, a diversity of issues, and a diversity of perspectives – as well as continue to strive to serve an increasingly diverse and broad range of education content generators.
Work Completed to Date
In an effort to build and expand upon the Board’s strategic plan work, the Board created a Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) Task Force to address and operationalize diversity and inclusion throughout the organization. The Task Force, made up of board members, committee members, and EWA members-at-large, focused their work on the following steps, which were supported by The Raben Group, a Washington, DC-based public affairs firm:
- Conducted a brief environmental scan with current and former EWA staff, Board members, D&I Task Force members, EWA member journalists, and past and current funders to solicit honest feedback related to EWA’s mission and vision; audience; commitment to D&I; and D&I Task Force.
- Participated in several intensive dialogues on D&I to help create sustainable ownership for the long-term D&I throughout EWA’s programs and activities.
- Developed and analyzed the results of a membership survey, to which over 170 EWA members responded, to help EWA understand the diverse perspectives and challenges its membership has experienced or foresees.
- Hosted two external D&I conversations during the National Seminar with a sampling of members to understand their perceptions of what D&I means, why it is important to EWA, and what EWA should be doing to foster D&I in its work and the work of the member journalists.
- Developed and prioritized a series of recommendations—which build upon the work already being done pursuant to EWA’s new strategic plan—on how EWA should incorporate D&I in its work moving forward.
- Created tactics for accomplishing recommendations, assigned accountability for specific recommendations to individuals and groups within EWA, and suggested deadlines.
After synthesizing each of the elements set forth above, the D&I Task Force sought the Board’s approval of the prioritized recommendations below. The recommendations were drawn from a larger set of the recommendations that the Task Force initially considered. In addition to the specific recommendations outlined below, the Task Force also asked the EWA Board of Directors to approve an overarching commitment to diversity and inclusion.
At its annual fall meeting on September 24, the EWA Board of Directors unanimously approved the action plan, which encompassed the commitment and the recommendations.
EWA Diversity and Inclusion Commitment
The Education Writers Association (EWA) is committed to diversity and inclusion in every aspect of its mission to strengthen the community of education writers and improve the quality of education coverage to better inform the public.
This commitment requires EWA to:
- Undertake initiatives aimed at the growth and success of education journalists from underrepresented groups.
- Ensure the board of directors, advisory boards and staff of EWA represent the diversity of its membership.
- Serve as a resource for members on issues of diversity and inclusion through EWA’s programming.
- Work with diverse community and national partners to achieve EWA’s mission.
- Communicate diversity and inclusion initiatives, actions, and outcomes to key stakeholders both inside and outside the organization.
The Education Writers Association’s vision for excellence in education journalism includes improving the quality of education coverage by attracting, retaining and leveraging the talents of diverse education writers, as well as producing culturally competent resources.
- Institutionalize D&I initiatives by including a commitment to D&I in each committee’s work to govern and oversee various elements of the organization
Programming and Training
- Assess current programming (National Seminar and other events) to examine diversity of participants and topics
- Set D&I objectives for programming (both speakers and topics)
- Explore standalone event for D&I, specifically race/ethnicity in education and/or journalism
- Increase the number of webinars on education journalism topics related to D&I
Coverage of Issues Affecting Diverse Communities
- Create an Education Journalism Toolkit including a Style Guide for education journalists that addresses, among other topics, cultural competency and word-choice bias; add a list of diverse sources for education journalists that complements EWA’s existing source lists
Diversity in Education Journalism Workforce
- Identify mentorship opportunities for diverse education journalists entering or reentering the profession, including EWA’s role in supporting these efforts
- Create engagement plan with minority journalists and groups, including seeking financial support, hosting a strategy session, and becoming an exhibitor at conferences
EWA’s work to advance diversity and inclusion on the education beat has been made possible in part by a grant from the Walton Family Foundation and a sponsorship from the NewSchools Venture Fund. EWA retains sole editorial control over its programming and content.