The Adirondack Experience (ADKX) and The Wild Center have received significant grant funding to advance their own diversity goals and those of the region.
The funding is expected to enable them to conduct research and staff training, and revise internal policies and procedures. The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), a federal agency, is supporting the initiative with a $211,874 grant from its “Museums Empowered” program. Empire State Development (ESD)’s “Market New York Program” will provide an additional $129,945 in funding.
“Support from the federal and state levels represents an opportunity to reach out to underrepresented communities to gain a better understanding of how the Adirondacks are viewed and why or why not people choose to live in or visit the region,” and announcement sent to the press said.
ADKX and The Wild Center, are planning to conduct focus groups and online surveys with members of the African American and Latino communities in four metro areas surrounding the Adirondack Park: Plattsburgh, the Capital Region, Utica, and Syracuse. The research, to be carried out by People, Places & Design Research of Northampton, MA, is expected to identify both obstacles and opportunities ADKX and The Wild Center face in their efforts to serve people of color.
The results of the research is expected to be shared with nonprofits and government agencies throughout the Adirondacks in late 2020 or early 2021. Depending on the findings, future research might be carried out with additional communities of color in the four metro areas. Additional areas might also be identified for similar research projects.
“Everyone is concerned about the extremely low numbers of people of color among visitors to our institutions and our region,” Adirondack Experience Executive Director David M. Kahn said in the announcement of the grants. “Finally, we will have some real data to work with to help us figure out what we can do about the situation and take appropriate action. We’re very excited about the possibilities.”
“We believe that the Adirondack Park can be welcoming to all visitors,” Wild Center Executive Director Stephanie Ratcliffe said. “It’s incumbent on us to make everyone feel as though they belong. This investment is a step forward in identifying where we may fall short of that goal and what steps we can put in place to reach it.”.
ADKX and the Center are also partnering with Dr. Donathan Brown and Cindy Rodriguez of Adirondack Diversity Solutions to address staff recruitment, retention, and professional development policies and procedures. A group of three experts from the museum world are also providing guidance: Ann Hernandez of the Washington D.C.-based Association of Science and Technology Centers; Dr. Porchia Moore, Inclusion Catalyst at the Columbia Museum of Art in South Carolina; and Cecile Shellman, consultant in diversity, equity, accessibility and inclusion for museums and former Diversity Catalyst at the Carnegie Museums in Pittsburgh.
ADKX and Wild Center year-round and seasonal staff are expected to participate in a diversity-training program to better enable the two organizations to serve the needs of diverse visitors. Hiring and human resource management policies are also being reviewed as part of the project to assist the two organizations in diversifying their staffs.
ADKX and the Center are working to coordinate their efforts with the Adirondack Diversity Initiative (ADI), a consortium of nonprofit organizations working to develop and promote strategies to help the Adirondack Park become more welcoming and inclusive of all New Yorkers and visitors to the region. ADI recently hired its first Executive Director, Nicole Hylton-Patterson.