ESC counselors, staff members, and students encompass a range of cultural backgrounds and identities. Built on the belief that acknowledging and uplifting different identities is central to ESC values, the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) initiative at ESC strives to foster a supportive and inclusive cross-cultural community.
Like many initiatives at ESC, DEI started with a group of counselors who saw an opportunity to create change. In framing their mission, they focused on three central questions: One, who is in the room? Two, does everyone in the room have the space and time to speak? Three, who in the room is at risk of being minimized? Since its conception, DEI has grown into a 20-person team that influences numerous aspects of ESC operations, from company culture and hiring practices to student support.
With the goal of creating a more inclusive community, DEI organizes both internal and student-facing programming. This past July, DEI completed a successful donation-matching campaign in support of the Black Lives Matter movement, matching $1500 from ESC counselors and staff members. Matched funds were evenly distributed among four education-based nonprofits: the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, United Negro College Fund, Children’s Defense Fund, and 100 Black Men of America. In August, DEI organized the Race in America Ultra Learning course for ESC students. The counselor-led workshop addressed the Black Lives Matter protests in America and contextualized the movement within the intertwined histories of minority groups. Over four weeks, students who attended engaged in guided discussions, conducted research, and presented on a topic of their choosing.
ESC’s commitment to mentorship and support for students also extends to mental health. In September, DEI organized a professional development workshop for counselors led by psychotherapist and counselor Titi Hill. In the workshop, she addressed common mental health problems students might face and shared practical approaches that ESC counselors can use to provide a supportive environment. Throughout the presentation, Titi emphasized the importance of making room for socioemotional needs alongside the practical concerns of a college application counselor.
These recent projects are only a subsection of DEI’s body of work. Currently, DEI is planning multiple projects including resource collection, identity workshops, student mental health support, and community engagement. It is an exciting time for development, and the team is looking forward to what the future holds.