Equity and Social Action
"…for you are all one in Christ Jesus." Galatians 3:28
Equity and social action at Eastside Catholic is grounded in the Catholic Church’s social teachings that promote a society based on justice, love, respect and affirmation of the dignity and worth of each person. Eastside Catholic is committed to diversity, equity, inclusion, social action and social justice. This commitment is shown in admissions, communications, events, programs, extracurricular activities, curriculum and professional development.
At EC, our goal is to build a more diverse, inclusive and equitable community where each member has a sense of belonging. The work of the Equity and Social Action Team will be guided by the principles of the Strategic Plan, Goal #2: Shaped by Catholic values, through meaningful and measurable school governance, admissions outreach, curriculum, extracurricular and employment programs, we will develop and retain a diverse and inclusive community.
Read Archdiocese of Seattle's Statement on Racism: "A Call to Address Racism in our Hearts and Community."
Director of Equity and Social Action
- Affinity Groups FAQ
- Definition of Terms
- Activities & Programs
- Diversity Statement
Eastside Catholic has a defined commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, social action and social justice.
We will build a more diverse, inclusive, equitable and just community at Eastside Catholic through planned programs and strategies that emphasize respect for and affirmation of the dignity and worth of each person.
Eastside Catholic will develop systems of accountability that will monitor and assess the school culture to determine how effectively we are living our mission. This will include, but will not be limited to, admissions, hiring, retention, financial aid and curriculum development.
We will affirm the value of diversity in our school community and will strive to reflect this value in the composition of our board of directors, administration, faculty, staff and student body.
We will proclaim our commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, social action and social justice in school communications, publications, marketing, events, programs and extracurricular activities.
Equity and Social Action Working Group
This committee is composed of faculty and staff who meet regularly to discuss issues of diversity, equity, inclusion, social action and social justice at Eastside Catholic. The committee works with the Director of Equity and Social Action to work on tasks such as analyzing school data, planning for programs and activities, providing input to administrative team, strategic planning and other related work.
Scope of Work:
- Proactively promote, ensure and protect equity and social action at Eastside Catholic.
- Improve equity and social action discourse in curriculum, faculty and staff activities and services for students.
- Review current challenges and expand opportunities in equity and social action work.
- Foster better dialogue and ongoing cultural competency education.
Student Equity and Social Action Committee (SESAC)
This committee is geared towards allowing students of differing backgrounds to engage together and be advocates for all students and will work with our student government, leadership and administration teams. The main roles and responsibilities are working with the Director of Equity and Social Action to create a space in which everyone is respected and feels comfortable speaking up about issues that they see on campus while also working on various initiatives and projects.
What is an affinity group?
An affinity group is a designated “safe space” where everyone in that group shares a particular identity. This identity can be based on race, gender language, nationality, physical/mental ability, socio-economic class, family structure, religion or others. Affinity groups can be a place for underrepresented people in a community to meet together to feel less isolated and more connected. During affinity group meetings, participants might share and talk about their experiences or focus on working towards a particular mission or goal.
For the 2023-24 schooly year, affinity groups in the high school include A to Z, Asian Heritage, Black Student Union, Hispanic/Latinx and Pacific Islander. In the middle school, we have the BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, Person of Color) affinity group.
Who can be part of an affinity group?
Only people who identify with that particular group can be a part of that group. This allows affinity group members to safely express their experiences without having to worry about others not understanding their experience because they identify with a different affinity group.
Are affinity groups exclusive and divisive?
Affinity groups are intended to bring people together over a commonality. We all benefit from interactions with people who share common identities or experiences. When you are in the numerical minority of a community, these bonding interactions may only occur during an affinity group. Affinity groups are only “exclusive” in order to create a safe space for people who may not feel safe in the larger community because they are in the numerical minority. During affinity group meetings, people can share freely and without inhibition about their experiences. These groups make them feel more visible and more included in our community, and in doing so, enhance our commitment to inclusivity.
Don’t affinity groups just promote segregation and not diversity?
Affinity groups are one aspect of creating a diverse and socially just world. They create a safe space needed for people to build strength and pride. But equally as important are the collaborative efforts between different groups of people towards creating equity for all. Allies are people who do not identify with a certain affinity group but want to support the equal rights of people from that group. Ally work and affinity work are both important aspects of creating social equity. You know you are in the right affinity group if you can say unequivocally, “I am _______” and you can speak to that group’s collective identity and experience from the “I” and “we” perspective.
Source: Children’s Day School
Affinity Group Resources:
Identity, Affinity, Reality
Students Talking about Affinity Groups
White Anti-Racism Affinity Groups: I Used to Be a Skeptic, But Now I’m an Evangelist
Why People of Color Need Spaces Without White People
Going to the Root: How White Caucuses Contribute to Racial Justice
Cultural Competency: Cultural competence is having an awareness of one’s own cultural identity and views about difference, and the ability to learn and build on the varying cultural and community norms of students and their families. It is the ability to understand the within-group differences that make each student unique, while celebrating the between-group variations that make our community a tapestry. This understanding informs and expands teaching practices in the culturally competent educator’s classroom. Cultural competency is defined as having the capacity to (1) value diversity, (2) conduct self-assessment, (3) manage the dynamics of difference, (4) acquire and apply cultural knowledge, and (5) adapt to diversity and the cultural contexts of the communities in which one lives and works.
Diversity: The wide range of human characteristics used to mark or identify individual and group identities. These characteristics include, but are not limited to ethnicity, race, national origin, age, personality, sexual orientation, gender, class, religion, ability and linguistics preferences. Diversity of thought and ways of knowing, being and doing are also understood as natural, valued and desired states, the presence of which benefit organizations, workplaces and society.
Equity: A condition that balances two dimensions: fairness and inclusion. As a function of fairness, equity implies ensuring that people have what they need to participate in school life and reach their full potential. Dimensions of diversity such as intellectual ability, physical ability, ethnicity or socioeconomics should not be barriers. As a function of inclusion, equity ensures that essential educational programs, services, activities and technologies are accessible to all. Equity is not equality; it is the expression of justice, ethics, giving equal attention to multiple identities and the absence of discrimination.
Equality vs. Equity Explained: https://youtu.be/APDxrppvtKQ
Inclusion: The act of creating environments in which any individual or group can be and feel welcomed, respected, supported and valued to fully participate. An inclusive and welcoming climate embraces differences and offers respect in words and actions for all people. It’s important to note that while an inclusive group is by definition diverse, a diverse group isn’t always inclusive. Increasingly, recognition of unconscious or ‘implicit bias’ helps organizations to be deliberate about addressing issues of inclusivity. Being inclusive means ensuring co-ownership and shared responsibility among all members of the school community. It authorizes individuals to carry out their role or roles successfully.
Social Action: Social action is something done for the benefit of the community. Social action is a way to celebrate and live out the gospel call for life, human dignity and care for God’s community through actions that respond to the needs of others and the community with the aim of creating lasting change.
Social Justice: Social justice refers to a concept in which equity or justice is achieved in every aspect of society rather than in only some aspects or for some people.
Sources for these definitions include the the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, the National Education Association, National Center for Cultural Competence, Georgetown University Center for Child and Human Development, Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce, the NAIS AIM Users Guide, No More Failures: Ten Steps to Equity in Education by Simon Field, Malgorzata Kuczera, and Beatriz Pont and Blackwell Encyclopedia of Sociology.
- Member of People of Color in Independent Schools
- Annual Diversity Week
- DEI Speaker series – October - December 2023
- Professional Development: Several faculty members attended the NAIS People of Color Conference in 2022.
- In 2020, Eastside Catholic was awarded the Fulcrum Building Diversity and Inclusion Grant – a program that supports schools in welcoming students, regardless of race, ethnicity or class by increasing accessibility, promoting academic excellence and increasing cultural competency of teachers and staff.
- From 2017-2019, Eastside Catholic hired Dr. Kimberly B. George, an expert in the fields of ethnic studies, gender studies, U.S. religious history and counseling psychology. At EC, she taught multiple cohorts of faculty and staff, around 30 people total, about how intersectionality, ethnic studies and feminist theories impact pedagogy and curriculum. Dr. Kimberly B. George worked closely with High School English Teacher Aimee Dingler and Director of Equity and Social Action Jenny Abbey to help them develop diverse, just and inclusive pedagogical methods and curriculum that they could implement in classrooms.
- From 2018 through 2020 school years, monthly after school workshops for faculty and staff were held covering a wide variety of topics such as intersectionality, trauma-informed pedagogy and culturally responsive teaching. Mrs. Dingler and Ms. Castillo led these workshops and their goal was to bring the theory that they studied under the tutelage of Dr. Kimberly B. George into practice by giving educators space and time to think of real curriculum changes and ideas that they could incorporate into their classrooms and lives.
Equity and Social Action at Eastside Catholic School is grounded in the social teachings of the Catholic Church, which promote a society based on justice, love, respect and the affirmation of the dignity and worth of all human beings.
Eastside Catholic values diversity, honoring and respecting the unique qualities of our students, their families, and faculty and staff members. These unique qualities include but are not limited to age, ethnicity, family makeup, gender identity and expression, learning ability, physical ability, race, religion, sexual orientation and socioeconomic status. Creating a diverse and accepting community also means educating ourselves and each other, addressing biases in our community and critically analyzing our curriculum and course materials.
Eastside Catholic adheres with daily awareness to the following adapted from the Principles of Good Practice for Equity and Justice, based in Catholic Teachings. Catholic teachings are central to Eastside Catholic’s mission and act as the guidance and authority for all we do;
- Eastside Catholic establishes the foundation for its commitment to equity and justice in its defining documents, including its mission, core value and/or philosophy statements.
- Eastside Catholic respects, affirms, values and protects the dignity and worth of each member of its community.
- The board of trustees and the school president articulate strategic goals and objectives that promote diversity, inclusion, equity and justice in the life of the school.
- Eastside Catholic develops meaningful requirements for cross-cultural competency and provides training and support for all community members, including students, parents and guardians, faculty and staff members and trustees.
- The board of trustees and the school president hold Eastside Catholic accountable for embodying its mission by monitoring and assessing the current school culture and its ongoing efforts in admissions, hiring, employee retention, merit-based and financial-based aid and curriculum development.
- Eastside Catholic works meticulously to ensure that the board of trustees, faculty and staff and student body all reflect the diversity that is present in the rapidly changing and increasingly diverse population in our region.
- The school president ensures that diversity initiatives are coordinated and led by a designated individual who is a member of one of the school leadership teams and who possesses the training, authority, and support needed to influence key areas of policy development, decision-making, budget and management.
- Eastside Catholic uses inclusive language in all written, electronic and verbal communication.
- Eastside Catholic adopts a nondiscrimination statement applicable to the administration and its programs and policies in full compliance with local, county, state and federal laws.
- Anti-Racism Resources for Ministers - National Federation for Catholic Youth Ministry
- Archdiocese of Seattle Resources for Responding to Racism - Archdiocese of Seattle Faith Formation Online Resources
- Catholic 101: Church Teaching and the Anti-Racism Movement - The Jesuit Post
- Common Terms - The National Conference on Faith-Based Service
- Equity and Social Action Framework at Eastside Catholic
- Open Wide Our Hearts: A Pastoral Letter Against Racism - United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
- U.S. Catholic Bishops Pastoral Letter on Racism - United States Conference of Catholic Bishops