"We prepare students to engage in the world that is and to help bring about a world that ought to be."
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Diversity, Inclusion & Anti-Racism

A Statement on Black Lives Matter

"I encourage us to keep our minds and hearts focused on the clarion call of our moment––Black Lives Matter. As a Quaker school, we deplore racism and violence. We believe in protest and are constantly modeling for our students how to bring about change—peacefully as the Quaker Peace testimony directs us. At Friends, we train our students not to sit on the sidelines, but to engage in the great moral challenges of our time. We teach them to speak out against injustice, to use their words and talents and not their fists or firearms to fight for what is right. We urge our students and our families to get involved in any way you can to support our Black friends and families. Why? Because it is imperative. If racial justice is never achieved, our world will remain a sphere with a crack that runs right through it."
- Robert "Bo" Lauder, Principal

Anti-Racist Initiatives: Honoring Black, Asian, and POC Lives

From April 2020-Present

We have worked tirelessly as a school to transform Friends into the place that it has always had the potential to be––an anti-racist institution committed to peace, equity and justice. We are not where we want to be; this is a process, but we have come a long way. As Bo said in a recent community letter, "Friends Seminary is not a perfect institution...we will continue examining ourselves as an institution for flaws where hurt may still be hidden." To his point, over the last few years, we have taken––and continue to take––important strides toward anti-racism.

Institutional Change

  • Between May and September 2020, the Head of School convened several community-wide Meetings for Worship focused on grappling with race and issues of justice. The Head of School also sent out several community-wide letters restating the values of the School in light of the persistence of racial injustice, the commitment of the School to address racism within its walls, and plans for even deeper anti-racism work at Friends to build on the work that had already been underway for quite some time.

  • In June 2020, an affinity space for Black alumni was convened for reflecting on race and the experiences of Black alumni at Friends as well as on what the School can do to help heal and prevent harm. The Alumni Council is actively partnering with the School to explore opportunities and structures for continued conversation on race and racial identity with alumni, including alumni affinity groups. The Alumni Council has recently created a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion taskforce to determine next steps in deepening DEI work in the alumni community.

  • As of September 2020, the Board of Trustees formed the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee, which has been charged with “support[ing] each Board member in cultivating a diversity, equity and inclusion lens through which to assess all Board work and to support the ongoing task of evaluating and refining all structures, systems, and practices of the School in light of its Diversity and Inclusion Mission Statement.” Prior to this moment, the Faith & Practice Committee of the Board had been tasked with examining issues pertaining to Quaker values and the ethical and spiritual life of the School. 

  • The Board of Trustees has undertaken work to increase its racial diversity. As of September 2020, three new trustees of color have been appointed to the Board. Their expertise covers a wide range of areas that will enrich the life of the School.

  • In February 2021, all parent leaders on the Executive Committee of the Parents Association participated in a DEI and anti-racism workshop tailored to their work in the community.

  • A comprehensive review of the School’s disciplinary systems and harassment, hate and bias protocols is underway. Restorative justice and peacemaking circles are beginning to be introduced in each division as a way to build community proactively and address harm more restoratively. We are also designing a restorative justice response system to address conflict and incidents of identity-based harm in a more transparent and accountable way. The Upper School’s Student and Faculty Advisory Disciplinary Committee is undergoing a semester-long restorative justice training overseen by the Assistant Head of the Upper School and the Director of Diversity and Inclusion.

  • In addition, a school-wide climate assessment is under consideration.

Admissions and Hiring

  • 37% of our students identify as students of color and, in raw numbers, we have more students of color than we have had at any single moment in our school's history. New diversity-focused admissions outreach events have been undertaken to advance this work.
 
  • As of January 2021, all admissions professionals have received training in anti-bias and anti-racist decision-making practices and ways of evaluating admissions applications.

  • All personnel involved in hiring have been trained in anti-bias hiring practices and a comprehensive, anti-bias manual on hiring is being completed.

Faculty and Administrative Staff Training

  • In summer 2020, we provided 6 hours of training on “Teaching for Anti-Racism and Black Lives Matter Every Day” open to all faculty and administrative staff. 

  • In August 2020, all new faculty and administrative staff participated in a required peace, equity, and justice training that highlighted philosophy and practice at a Quaker school. This is an annual offering. Furthermore, the expectation is that all colleagues will allocate a portion of their annual professional development budget to work on diversity, equity, and inclusion.

  • We are redoubling our professional development efforts and have launched for the 2020-2021 school year a required, year-long professional development program for all faculty and administrative staff themed “Supporting Students of Color––Where Racial Justice and Health & Wellness Meet.” During our 2020 fall Professional Development Day, colleagues participated in a workshop with Dr. Keba Rogers, a psychologist who specializes in racial trauma. She led colleagues through an active listening exercise aimed at cementing the connection between empathy and anti-racism. In summer 2020, all faculty and administrative staff participated in a summer common read of Ijeoma Oluo’s book, So You Want to Talk About Race. Breakout discussion groups followed Dr. Rogers’ opening talk. Later in the year we heard from Dr. Jackson Collins on his groundbreaking research focused on the experiences of students of color in independent schools and the practice of belonging. Soon after, colleagues participated in a NYSAIS session with Dr. Ibram X. Kendi on how to create antiracist schools. Finally, Dr. Keba Rogers returned to lead a session for all colleagues on racial trauma and effective strategies for prevention and post-trauma healing.

Curriculum

  • All faculty are being introduced to Teaching Tolerance’s Social Justice Standards, a curriculum planning tool for scaffolded anti-bias education, K-12.

  • All faculty were introduced to NYU’s Culturally Responsive Curriculum Scorecard, an evaluation tool used to audit curriculum in key areas such as demographic representation, historical accuracy and social justice content. 

  • As part of the 2020 Summer Bridge program, we launched a course for Upper School students focused on race, justice and peacemaking circle-keeping in the indigenous tradition. Those students have gone on to help us lead impactful, intergenerational dialogues.

  • During the summer of 2020, the English and History Departments continued a re-examination of their curriculum in light of School-wide work on anti-racism. Their inquiry ranges from how to teach sensitive subjects thoughtfully and which voices and topics must be centered to which texts need to be included or set aside. For example, any texts that include the n-word must be carefully considered and taught responsibly to minimize harm. The n-word is steeped in a history of racial terror and violence; when it is uttered aloud, that violence is perpetuated. While the n-word is part of the ongoing saga of race in the United States and therefore must be studied and understood, we have reached a new agreement that there is no value in its being uttered aloud on campus. 

  • In September 2020, a new course for all ninth-graders will be launched to cover health and wellness topics, including identity, racism, responding to microaggressions and interpersonal conflict, and being social justice allies.

  • In October 2020, students in the Upper School’s Black Culture Club met with the Chair of the English Department to explore how Black literature is taught in the Upper School and to provide recommendations on where the English Department might go next in its ongoing evaluation of its pedagogy and curriculum.

  • In December 2020, we announced that our 2020-2021 school year Visiting Scholar would be Dr. Joshua Bennett, a Black intellectual, professor at Dartmouth, and expert on American literature and Black studies. His work at Friends will touch all constituencies of the School. In addition to large group convenings, the Visiting Scholar will be in residence for the year and will interact regularly with students, faculty, and administrative staff.

  • In each year of Middle School, students take peace, equity and justice courses under the umbrella called “goLEAD,” in which they explore issues pertaining to environmental justice, human rights and social justice. Each course culminates in students designing and implementing an action project. A violence- and genocide-prevention curriculum, the Grade 8 course takes a deep dive into the continuum and escalation of bias and hate and ways to interrupt bias and hate effectively.

Co-Curricular and Community Programming

  • Student leaders regularly collaborate with CPEJ staff to design and implement programs for the community. In May of 2020, student leaders launched a racial justice advocacy initiative, which can be seen here. It is a powerful response to ongoing racial assaults so prevalent in our world.

  • In winter of 2019, students in goLEAD joined a local community effort to rename the southeastern corner of East 16th Street and 3rd Avenue in honor of Harry T. Burleigh, a significant African American composer who was also the first African American minister of music at St. George’s Episocal Church. On December 17, 2020, the NYC Council approved the community’s request to honor Harry T. Burleigh. In February 2021, the street was officially renamed.

  • Starting in spring 2020, we launched an intergenerational community dialogue series focused on identity, race and justice. For example, two evening programs (one with Bentrice Jusu and another with Seeds of Peace) were held in May. 

  • In June, a community-wide Meeting for Worship took place, as did an intergenerational dialogue on solidarity for racial justice. Shortly thereafter, intergenerational affinity spaces (Black, non-Black POC, and White) were convened to deepen learning and sharing. Intergenerational dialogues on racial justice and affinity spaces will be convened in July and August as well.

  • In September 2020, all Grade 9 students participated in a mandatory DEI and anti-racism training.

  • Each year CPEJ staff oversee a Day of Concern for the upper school and a Day of Service for the entire school, both of which focus on themes related to peace, equity, and justice. On these days, classes are suspended and students and adults are immersed in activities meant to deepen their sense of responsibility and agency to bring about positive change both at and beyond the school. The 2021 Day of Concern was “Confronting Systemic Racism: A Nation’s Call to Action.” Jade Ogunnaike, senior campaigns director at Color of Change, keynoted the conference. Afterwards, students and teachers watched selections from the New York Times’ short films series on race. They processed their takeaways in Peacemaking Circles led by 33 students and faculty/staff. Afterwards, attendees participated in a session with Barry Friedman and Mecole Jordan-McBridge of the NYU Policing Project. Then participants immersed themselves in 14 different workshops focused on different aspects of fighting systemic racism. The day culminated with a brief meeting for worship.

  • Each year, as part of a partnership between the History Department and CPEJ, ninth graders participate in the Youth Philanthropy Initiative (YPI) through which they come to support the work of nonprofits addressing critical social and global issues. In teams, they research a critical issue, visit a nonprofit working on that issue, interview its leaders and review its core documents, and then assemble a presentation about their learnings that they deliver to peers. Eventually, teams affirmed by their peers move on to present their research to a panel of judges who ultimately decide which team will be given the opportunity to award their nonprofit with a grant. This year the YPI project is focused on racial justice organizations and organizations run by people of color.

  • The 2021 Peace Week theme was “Tell Me Who You Are: Stories of Race, Culture, and Identity." We believe our country is at a critical juncture. The dual pandemics of systemic racism and COVID-19 have cast in stark relief the ugly underbelly of racial injustice in the nation. Hate has curtailed media discourse, erupted on our nation’s streets, and hammered our campuses. Our Quaker values call us to confront all forces that stand in the way of justice and dignity. During this year’s Peace Week, we will confront systemic racism head-on; explore how it shapes our school, our city, and our country; and consider what role we want to play in dismantling it. We will look inward to address our own relationship to racism, while also looking outward to determine the action steps we can take as a community and a country to bring about a world that ought to be. Peace Week unfolded with a series of divisional assemblies, divisional Meetings for Worship, and classroom activities focused on race and the power of storytelling to connect us across lines of difference. The anchor Evening Program brought to campus Winona Guo and Priya Vulchi, young activists and journalists who traveled all 50 states to assemble stories of race and relationships. The week culminated in an all-school Meeting for Worship.

  • In each division, we hold regular social justice and multicultural awareness community periods and lunchtime conversations. We often hold evening and weekend programs aimed at educating the whole community, including parents/caregivers. Our affinity month celebrations and commemorative holiday observances bring together community members across the ages. For example, Latinx Heritage Month, LGBTQ History Month, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, International Holocaust Remembrance Day, Black History Month, Women’s History Month, Yom HaShoah, Asian American/Pacific Islander Heritage Month, and LGBTQ Pride Month. Here are initiatives since March 2020.

    • As a Peace Week extension, CPEJ hosted a half-day virtual retreat for 7th and 8th graders focused on exploring race and identity. Using identity exercises and the New York Times’ short film series on race, the session invited students and advisors into deeply reflective conversations on the power of race to shape us and our responsibility to shape it.

    • From March 19 to Dec. 31 last year, the organization Stop AAPI Hate received 2,808 firsthand reports of violence against Asians from 47 states and the District of Columbia. This problem is as national as it is local. Anti-Asian hate crimes are up 900% in NYC since last year. A variety of efforts are underway across the country to address the resurgence in anti-Asian hate directly tied to COVID-19 scapegoating. This lunchtime Upper School session will explore the role of law enforcement--particularly the NYPD--in this fight. Interviewed by student leaders, the guest conversationalist was Detective Stewart Loo, a Friends parent and the head of a new task force focused on addressing anti-Asian hate crimes. This session was co-sponsored by the Asian Culture Club and CPEJ. 
 
    • H.Res. 908, which condemns all forms of COVID-19-related anti-Asian hate, was passed in the House last September. However, acts of Anti-Asian sentiment, especially against the elderly, continue. Along with the Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL), Friends students, faculty and staff have been meeting virtually with NY representatives who voted against this resolution. They urged these representatives to take action to protect Asian Americans, reconsider the stance they took on the issue last year, and dissuade the use of xenophobic rhetoric in Congress and the media. In preparation, Upper School's Asian Culture Club and CPEJ held lobbying training with the Young Adult Advocacy Coordinator from the Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL) to further educate the community and share resources.

    • To close the School's celebration of Black Heritage & History Month, the Center for Peace, Equity and Justice hosted a K-12 Zoom celebration. The theme, "Dancing and Drumming in the African Diaspora," invited community members to explore cultural practices created by people of African descent for whom self-expression and freedom are communal values. The celebration kicked off with a conversation with Adia Whitaker, a Friends Dance Instructor and a long-time dancer, choreographer, and artistic director. Adia has traveled all over the world learning and teaching dances from the African diaspora. Through video, she took attendees into a recent performance she staged at the Brooklyn Museum. Afterwards, she taught attendees a powerful dance focused on liberation and justice. Then Kozzo Babumba took to the virtual stage. Kozzo is a master-percussionist and the grandson of Grammy Award-winning Nigerian band leader & percussionist, Babatunde Olatunji. He shared his journey to playing drums in tradition of his grandfather and demonstrated the powerful beats that together comprise a system of communication. 

    • Principal Bo Lauder, during a session with students and faculty, unveiled a portrait of Chloe Ardelia Wofford (Pulitzer Prize Winner known professionally as Toni Morrison). The portrait came into the School's collection this summer. During this session, Lauder shared how to determine the portrait’s provenance as one of many activities offered to explore and celebrate Black Heritage / History Month. After the painting is cleaned and fitted to its frame, the students will be involved in deciding where to permanently hang the portrait.

    • In honor of Black History & Heritage Month, the Upper School's Black Culture Club partnered with CPEJ and the Alumni Council's Diversity & Inclusion Task Force to host a panel focused on Black Excellence. The panelists included: Susan Collins '76, provost and executive vice president for academic affairs at the University of Michigan; Joy Rivera '91, who created Solutions for Joyful Aging, Inc. after 18 years of providing care management services in a variety of healthcare settings; and Naledi Semela ‘06, an educator and undoing racism trainer who serves as Associate Director of Admissions at Prep for Prep. The panelists explained how the values of Friends have shaped their career trajectories as well as how they lead their lives. They encouraged students to pursue their dreams with confidence, knowing that each of them has something unique to contribute to the evolving human story. 

    • Upper School students participated in a lunchtime session with Kanene Holder, artist, activist, and anti-racist trainer. Her session, entitled "Unbossed and Unbowed–A Bold and Authentic Life," encouraged students to be courageous in their pursuit of justice. Using examples from her own life and stories from students, Holder weaved a powerful narrative on what it looks like to show up in the world as your full self regardless of the consequences. Students reported being inspired to new heights of authenticity and activism. 

    • Lower School students continue to learn about the work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and others who have fought for justice, dignity, and freedom. In a recent Lower School community period, masterful storyteller and singer April Armstrong performed powerful pieces on seeking justice and maintaining hope for a brighter future. One of the stories she shared transported students into the world of civil rights activist Ruby Bridges who, as a young girl, was the first African American child to desegregate the all-white William Frantz Elementary School in Louisiana during the New Orleans school desegregation crisis on November 14, 1960. The community period culminated with April leading all in singing "We Shall Overcome," a staple Freedom Song from the civil rights movement.

    • As part of Peace Week 2021, Upper School students interviewed Chi Ossé '16, a candidate for City Council who began his activism as a member of several clubs and initiatives that pressed for change at Friends and beyond. Chi is a prominent figure in the revitalization of the Black Lives Matter Movement. Students questioned him on the ways storytelling influences his work and how he has built antiracism initiatives into his platform. This is part of a series of conversations with alumni that focus on the intersections of race, identity, and activism.

    • Upper School students recently presented a dramatic reading of Fences, a Pulitzer-prize winning play, which explores the evolving African American experience and examines race relations in the 1950’s in Pittsburgh. The performance was staged by Amirah '23 and Trent Williams and read by Ahmed '23, Ahron '23, David '23, Julian '23, Marcus '23, Nylu '23, and Tyler '23. This event kicks off the School's annual Peace Week, which is currently running with a focus on the power of stories to help us explore our own racial identities and connect across lines of racial difference.

    • Please join Friends in ringing in the Year of the Ox at the 30th Friends Seminary Virtual Lunar New Year Celebration on January 29 at 6PM. This special event provides philanthropic support for The Henry Lee ’43 Endowed Scholarship Fund. Henry Lee ’43 was the first Asian American student to attend Friends Seminary. He created this endowment in honor of his 50th reunion at Friends. Upon his death in 1995, his family continued this scholarship fund which has grown into the largest named endowed fund at Friends Seminary; it provides financial assistance to Asian American students. The virtual Lunar New Year celebration will also include a video shared with everyone on how Friends community members celebrate the festival. Please see FWD for more information and instructions to submit your video by Friday, January 15.⠀

    • In response to the attack on the nation's Capitol, the Parents Association Diversity & Inclusion Committee hosted a conversation with Dr. Khyati Joshi. Joshi addressed long-standing racial and religious ideas and practices that have undergirded the toxicity and violence animating extremist groups. She encouraged parents/caregivers to continue educating themselves, becoming comfortable with being uncomfortable, having courageous conversations with intolerant loved ones, and holding space for children to process what they are hearing and seeing in the world. Dr. Khyati Y. Joshi, author of the recently published White Christian Privilege: The Illusion of Religious Equality in America, is a scholar and thought leader on the intersecting issues of race, religion and immigration in the United States. 

    • Recently, the Black Culture Club in the Upper School hosted a lunch discussion with activist Erika Alexander. The discussion focused on the experiences of people of color in media, the work of recent creatives of color, and how we can all be allies in anti-racist change. Students were deeply moved by Erika's empowering message. Erika Alexander is beloved for her iconic acting roles as Maxine Shaw (Living Single), Detective Latoya (Get Out), Cousin Pam (The Cosby Show), Perenna (Black Lightning), and Linda Diggs (Wutang: An American Saga). Erika wears many hats as not only an actress, but also a trailblazing activist, entrepreneur, creator, producer, and director. Erika represents one of the most bold, daring, and powerful voices in our country today. As a creator, Erika recognizes that stories, when socially conscious and carefully constructed, have the capacity to create impact and meaningful change. As co-founder of Color Farm Media and Board Member of VoteRunLead, Alexander is on a mission to bring greater equity, inclusion, and diverse representation to both media and electoral politics.

    • Over a few weeks in November, each division explored the Speak Up for Civility affirmations, a list of affirmative steps that call each of us to speak in ways that honor human dignity. Too often conversations involving politics and differences in belief devolve into shouting matches and degrading disses. Too often we are quick to speak but slow to listen, quick to judge but slow to consider. We must aspire to do better. We can disagree without dishonoring. The Speak Up for Civility affirmations was on display in the Rosenquist Gallery for several months as we moved through the election season. 

    • The Asian Culture Club, Black Culture Club, Latinx Culture Club, and RAAD held a panel discussion in the Upper School titled "Why Vote, How to Vote, and How to Protect the Vote." Featuring three influential speakers, the discussion focused on helping us better understand the impact of voter suppression on BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) communities. Panelist included: Kat Calvin, the Founder and Executive Director of Spread The Vote, an organization that helps local community members in strict ID Voting states obtain an ID so that they can vote, and the Co-Founder and CEO of the Project ID Action Fund. Camille Martin, a Voto Latino’s Partnerships Associate, where she supports relationships with Voto Latino’s corporate, non-profit, and grassroots partners. Sandra Choi, the Civic Participation Manager at the MinKwon Center for Community Action. She is responsible for building political power and visibility for the local immigrant community through MinKwon's civic engagement work.

    • The Upper School's Latinx Culture Club and the Center for Peace, Equity and Justice co-hosted a conversation with Claudia Romo Edelman, a Friends parent and social entrepreneur, global advocate and thought leader specializing in issues affecting the Hispanic community. She is the founder of We Are All Human, a diversity, equity and inclusion firm that works across brands and corporations to promote equal representation and Hispanic unity. ⁣Despite being the second largest ethnic minority in the states, she stressed that "We are not heard and we are not valued," pointing to the Hispanics heightened vulnerability during the Covid-19 crisis among other areas. She offered compelling data on how the Hispanic community has influenced history, culture, politics, and economics and offered effective and meaningful ways to engage with them. Following the discussion, Middle and Upper School students had the opportunity to ask questions.

    • To kick off the 2020-2021 school year, CPEJ staff hosted a special back-to-school program for Lower School students focused on taking care of each other during COVID-19. Students reflect on hand-washing, mask-wearing, and social distancing as strategies of care. Furthermore, they explored speaking out against anti-Asian racism as a practice of care and compassion, learning that no single people group is responsible for a pandemic.

    • CPEJ hosted a community-wide session with Alexis McGill Johnson, acting President and CEO of Planned Parenthood Federation of America and the Planned Parenthood Action Fund. Planned Parenthood provides vital health services to 2.4 million people each year through its more than 600 health centers across the country. The discussion ranged from the feminist movement to sex education in high school to the effects of coronoavirus/COVID-19 on people of color. Johnson, who grew up immersed in issues of race and gender, spoke to the disparities within coronavirus treatment and that it has been “tremendously troubling for women in healthcare.” She detailed the systems of inequality for women and how this pandemic has been used to push certain political agendas, which has had daunting effects. With this, she encouraged all young people to vote because elections have real consequences and they assist in allowing “people to live their most free lives.” She went on to explain that “innovation will come from this generation,” and they will help “define the infrastructure” around future movements.

    • In honor of Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month, the Upper School’s Asian Culture Club worked with CPEJ to create a video that honors Asian American artists creating in a time of COVID-19. Click here to access the video.

    • Co-sponsored by CPEJ and the Upper School’s Asian Culture Club, this session shined a light on the resilience of Asian American communities in the face of rising hate. Moreover, we heard from Asian American leaders who have been on the frontlines of advancing peace, equity, and justice for all. Four guests were interviewed, each of whom brought a unique perspective to the conversation. We heard from Jean Chae, founder of SimplyFido, baby products designer, and Friends parent; Dr. Khyati Joshi, a social scientist and thought leader; Bessie Chan-Smitham, Assistant Director of Community Engagement at Asian Americans Advancing Justice; and Carmelyn Malalis, Chair and Commissioner of the NYC Commission on Human Rights. 

Additional and Ongoing Efforts

  • In 2015, we launched a new department called the Center for Peace, Equity and Justice (CPEJ), whose three full-time administrative staff coordinate and spearhead values-driven work on behalf of the School, synergizing diversity, equity and inclusion; service learning and civic engagement; and global education. The work of this new department is informed by the School’s strategic plan, Reimagining This Place Called School.

  • As of fall 2017, the Director of Diversity and Inclusion is a member of the senior Administrative Committee and serves alongside the Dean of Co-Curricular Programs, both of whom are charged with leading the School forward in pursuing peace, equity and justice.

  • The Faith & Practice Committee for faculty and administrative staff examines issues pertaining to Quaker values and the ethical and spiritual life of the School, including diversity, equity and inclusion.

  • The Parents Association has two action and learning committees related to peace, equity and justice: the Service Committee and the Diversity and Inclusion Committee. Plans for more parent programming on anti-racism and racial identity are underway.

  • All parents new to the School are required to participate in a workshop offered each semester on Quaker values, including a focus on diversity, equity and inclusion. Prospective families are asked to attend an evening program focused on the centrality of culture, identity and inclusion in a Quaker school.

  • A comprehensive review of the School’s calendar is underway with plans to include Indigenous People’s Day and Juneteenth as official holidays at the School.

  • Beginning in the fall of 2019 with faculty and administrative staff, a new demographic data collection effort has been started to measure the diversity of the school community with key identity categories in mind.

  • We have increased the number of faculty/staff of color. More than 50% of all new hires for the 2019-2020 school year are people of color. New diversity-focused recruitment efforts have been undertaken to advance this work.

  • We have increased the number of administrators of color. The head or assistant head of every division is a person of color. 

  • All administrative leaders have participated in a year-long professional development program focused on social-emotional learning for community development, including deep dives in restorative practices and non-violent communication.

  • In recent years, all members of the Board of Trustees have participated in implicit bias training as well as several other diversity, equity and inclusion sessions. Plans for further training are underway.

  • Under the auspices of CPEJ, the School launched a training program for faculty called the Global Competencies Certificate Program (GCCP). This two-year program is a cohort model and moves a little over a dozen faculty through a curriculum on cultural responsiveness, DEI work, and global education. The first year of the program culminates in faculty participating in a domestic immersion experience in Savannah, Georgia to study efforts to preserve African American history and Gullah-Geechee culture. Faculty take a deep dive in analyzing privilege, power, and history. The second year of the program culminates in faculty participating in an international immersion experience in Colombia, South America, to study human rights work and human rights education. The third cohort is currently moving through the GCCP curriculum and immersion experiences.

  • Over the last five years, we have held required anti-racist, anti-bias and gender sensitivity trainings for all faculty and administrative staff. For example, in 2015, faculty and administrative staff engaged in a summer common read, choosing from Derald Wing Sue’s Race Talk, Paul Gorski and Seema G. Pothini’s Case Studies on Diversity and Social Justice Education, and Claude Steele’s Whistling Vivaldi. Faculty and administrative staff not only participated in breakout book discussion groups, but also in a half-day training on microaggressions and race with Derald Wing Sue. Another example, in 2016, faculty and administrative staff participated in a training with Facing History on safe and inclusive classrooms. Yet another, in 2019, all faculty and administrative staff participated in a full-day training focused on emotional intelligence, cultural responsiveness, and peacemaking circles. Dena Simmons, the Assistant Director of the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence, was the keynote speaker.

  • In the 2019-2020 school year, we launched a series of workshops in Grades 2 and 3 themed “Identity Lab,” in which students delved into topics related to identity formation, empathy building, being social justice allies, and the history of social movements. Plans are underway to strengthen racial identity formation work in the Lower School. For example, the Identity Lab will be strengthened and expanded using resources from the ADL’s anti-bias curriculum and Pollyanna’s racial literacy curriculum.

  • For the last three years, we have run a peace, equity and justice course in Grade 4 called “Problem-Based Learning,” which uses a global lens to investigate the difference between equity and equality.

  • Each year CPEJ staff oversee a domestic immersion experience for interested Upper School students that focuses on civics, civil rights, history, law and public policy.

  • In the last three years, using input from the community, we have designed and implemented both affinity groups and community dialogues aimed at different constituency groups. In Middle School we have the following affinity groups: Students of Color, Jewish Students, and the Feminism and Gender-Sexuality Alliance. In Upper School, we have the following groups: Students of Color, Anti-Racism White Alliance, Queer & Questioning, Sister Circle, and Boys Collective. For faculty and administrative staff, we have a group for people of color and one for white folks invested in anti-racism.

  • A range of student-led culture and identity clubs and committees work collaboratively to advance racial justice at the School including the Raising Awareness and Advocating Diversity Club, the Service Committee, the Agenda Committee, the Black Culture Club, the Jewish Culture Club, the Latinx Culture Club, the Asian Culture Club, the Feminists at Friends Club, and the Gender-Sexuality Alliance. 

  • Each year Upper School students participate in a range of diversity, equity, and inclusion conferences, including the NAIS Student Diversity Leadership Conference, the Young Womyn of Strength Conference, the Young Men of Color Conference, the (Re)Defining Power Conference for Young White Men, the YALA GALA for Asian Americans, the Latinx Student Conference, and the DAIS Multicultural Students Conference.

Resources for Racial Justice

List of 4 items.

Diversity & Inclusion Mission

The Society of Friends is founded in the belief that there is that of God in every person and that truth emerges as new voices are heard and incorporated in our understanding. We believe that the quality of the truths we know is enriched and deepened by welcoming people with diverse experiences of the world into our community.

We want to foster a community that addresses the challenge of valuing difference and making every individual feel welcome, supported, and safe: a community in which each person is asked to make the rigorous commitment to recognize the Light within every other, to hear that piece of truth each person brings to the continuing dialogue which is the foundation of our community. We want our daily interactions to demonstrate that maintaining respect and pursuing the hard work of understanding difference creates strength as we work to define and move toward common goals.

Our mission as an educational institution is to prepare our students to participate in an increasingly interdependent world and, by graduating an increasinglydiverse group of students, to help build a more effective citizenry and representative leadership for the future. We seek to develop the skills and discipline necessary to communicate effectively and to learn from a rich variety of experiences and points of view. This work is central to valuing diversity, to the purpose of education and to the Quaker ideals of integrity, peace, equality and simplicity.

In a world in which people continue to suffer profound inequalities of opportunity, we dedicate ourselves to stretching what we have and are capable of: to working to become a community more representative of the city in which we live and to improving our ability to support a diverse student body. The gap between our ideals and the possible creates struggle to which we commit ourselves with energy and joy.
Adopted October 2005

Contact

Friends Seminary Center for Peace, Equity and Justice

Kirsti Peters
Director of Diversity & Inclusion

Sahana Mehta
CPEJ Associate for Diversity & Inclusion

Leitzel Schoen
Dean of Co-Curricular Programs
Friends Seminary actively promotes diversity, equity, inclusion, and anti-racism in all its programs and operations, including admissions, financial aid, hiring, and all facets of the educational experience. To form a community which strives to reflect the world’s diversity, we do not discriminate on the basis of race or color, religion, nationality, ethnicity, economic background, physical ability, sex, gender identity or expression, or sexual orientation. Friends Seminary is an equal opportunity employer.

Friends Seminary — the oldest continuously operated, coeducational school in NYC — serves college-bound day students in Kindergarten-Grade 12.
FRIENDS SEMINARY
222 East 16th Street
New York, NY 10003
P: 212-979-5030
F: 212.979.5034