The Mountain Association works to support a just and sustainable transition to a new economy in post-coal Appalachia. We know that a transition such as this cannot happen unless all people living in the region are considered and welcomed into the work of making it happen. We are proud of our organization’s efforts over the last 45 years to support small businesses, build value chains and test new ideas. But in recent years, we’ve begun to question how the role of white supremacy, racism, sexism, ableism, and the marginalization of people and groups, have impacted our region and how they show up in our own work. As a result, we are on an intentional journey to recenter ourselves around our core values of diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility (DEIA).
We are publishing updates every six months on our progress in order to be transparent about our journey. It is our hope that this will be helpful for organizations and individuals who have similar goals. Our first update linked here described the history of our work in this area, the extensive training our staff participated in to get where we are today, and significant milestones from 2018 through May 2022. This update covers the remainder of 2022.
Significant milestones from June 2022 through December 2022:
- Put together accessibility communication guidelines and tips for staff to better communicate with all people.
- Added an additional accessibility toolbar to our website. Added 711 relay information to our contact pages on our website for people who are deaf or hearing impaired. Incorporating Alt Text into all blogs for visually impaired individuals who use assistive technology.
- Published our equity goal and equity updates on our “about us” page in order to increase transparency.
- Developed a process manual for our lending team that outlines how to engage clients with a trauma-informed approach.
- Modified our loan application process to make it more accessible, reduce barriers for clients and incorporate more inclusive language.
- Redesigned our energy team’s client assessment reports to make them more accessible and better describe the technical pieces of our energy savings recommendations.
- Revised rubric for approving consulting services applications for non-loan clients with additional points for businesses and organizations serving underserved communities.
- Launched the SPARK Nonprofit Collaborative to support very small, community-based nonprofits in the region so that they can more effectively achieve their mission. The program is founded around trauma-informed work principles.
- Developed significant programming after the July 2022 flooding to serve communities impacted by the disaster.
We invite you to contact us with any questions about our journey or about our path forward. Please contact Betsy Whaley, Chief Strategy Officer, at firstname.lastname@example.org (859) 671-0212.