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(GOAL 4) Expanding Affinity-Based Opportunities and Supports

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Expanding Affinity-Based Opportunities and Supports

Create affinity-based opportunities to promote Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) employee retention. The outcome of this initiative is the launch of affinity-based mentoring and networking opportunities, and allocated resources to sustain strategies.

2023-24 Winter Progress Update 

Our planning team gathered stakeholder input from the following groups: 

  • Puget Sound Educational Service District (PSESD): PSESD has worked with neighboring districts to create Affinity Groups. Aside from the case study shared by this group, they also provide resources to work through difficult questions that will arise in the process. By reaching out to stakeholders, we can collaborate with them on how and what data will be collected, having feedback loops available (but not mandatory), and continuous communication with our stakeholders throughout the process. 
  • Kent Educators of Color Network (KEoCN) 
  • Black Administrator Affinity Group 
  • Beginning Education Support Team (BEST) Mentors 

As a committee we developed five questions that will deepen our understanding of where current groups are: 

  1. What is the leadership structure like? 
  2. How do you identify and recruit membership? 
  3. What type of training do your facilitators receive? 
  4. How often do you meet? 
  5. What might it look like in a system where school districts formally support the affinity group? What can that intersection look like? 

The team is taking a Cycle of Inquiry approach on this initiative. This includes gathering research, deepening understanding, knowing what the goals are, asking questions, learning from others, gathering information, reflecting and acting. From the five questions asked above, the team has gathered qualitative date, including: 

  • Need to assist with advertising for groups that already exist (ex: advertise during New Employee Orientations) 
  • Need a location to house resources/information (ex: StaffLink and public-facing website) 
  • Need facilitator trainings to build facilitator capacity around best practices 
  • Need opportunities to gather with other KSD BIPOC employees (ex: UW Convening) 

Now that our team has moved further in the planning, the following will be produced by year-end and will be integrated into ongoing teaching, learning, or operations: 

  • Autonomy provided/given to the BIPOC affinity group to determine key milestones and timelines 
  • Identify BIPOC Facilitator 
  • Determine process for creating the BIPOC affinity group 

2023-24 Fall Progress Update

The prevailing idea within the planning team is "go slow to go fast," highlighting that the crucial strategies for developing affinity-based opportunities for KSD's Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) staff—and extending to all staff—should be approached strategically. This approach allows for careful assessment, collaboration, partnership building, and resourcing, all aimed at creating a safe place and space for networking, professional development and problem solving.

Acknowledging the importance this work, the planning team is committed to not allowing this work not to become a "check box." Below is an excerpt from the book, “Belonging Through a Culture of Dignity - The Keys to Successful Equity Implementation,” that the team has referenced in their planning.

The Keys to Equity Are Within Our Reach

The Dysfunctional Cycle of Equity Work represents the unfortunate "business as usual" model. Its failure is not intentional - far from it - but it is still failure. Our thesis, as informed by the observational bias in The Streetlight Effect, is that we need to venture beyond where we are now and move into as-yet unexplored areas (the metaphorical darkness beyond the streetlight). We need to explore new ground. Our current strategies are the problem - our current ways of "doing equity" - and not the goal of equity itself.

Studies show that when done right, affinity-based opportunities can improve both recruitment and retention as well as a positive impact on student achievement.

Centering Stakeholder Voice

In the spirit of going slow to go fast, the APLT have partnered and collaborated with the following stakeholders:

  • Puget Sound Educational Service District (PSESD)
  • Kent Educators of Color Network (KEOCN)
  • KSD Black Administrators Affinity Group
  • Beginning Educations Support Team (BEST)
  • Federal Way School District (where affinity-based opportunities are in place)
  • Auburn School District (where affinity-based opportunities are in place)

Data used for planning/monitored to adjust accordingly:

  • Number of BIPOC KSD staff
  • Number of KSD employees retained annually
  • Number of BIPOC KSD employees retained annually