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Creating an Inclusive Program Strategy for SheJumps

Today we lean into courageous conversations that address equity and inclusion at every level of our small nonprofit. When we first started 14 years ago, SheJumps focused on closing the gender gap in the outdoors. Over time our focus has evolved.

It was hard for us to break into the ‘outdoor industry’ back then, even as white women laden with privilege from our background, our looks, and our able bodies. No one wanted to take us seriously, and we were laughed at. It's in the reflection of how far we've come which helps us understand that we have a long way to go. Black and brown communities, especially women, experience those barriers tenfold.

SheJumps unearths the potential of all women and girls through outdoor play and connection to nature, and it’s important to clarify how. We want to be clear about our organization’s vision for how this can be accomplished while continuing to put equity at the center of our programs and initiatives. We’ve been asking our supporters to sign up to donate monthly to our cause. We’ve talked about why nature is important, the importance of developing confidence as a healthy habit, and the fact that only 1.6% of all funding supports nonprofits that focus on women and girls. Now, we’d like to talk about the accessibility of the outdoors.

We proudly signed the Outdoor CEO pledge in September 2019, our team participates in monthly anti-racism trainings and events, and we strive to #amplifymelanatedvoices on our social media platforms. But we recognize we are not doing enough. It can be easy to center our own experience instead of looking outside of our small organization, and it can be even easier to ‘feel good’ about immersing ourselves in an endless stream of learning via books and podcasts, or conversations about equity and race. But at the end of the day, these trainings, articles, podcasts, and conversations mean nothing if they do not influence the actions of our nonprofit. That’s why we’re asking ourselves daily: how does inclusion show up in our programs? What narratives about the outdoors are we enforcing (knowingly or unknowingly)? We want to demonstrate our plan to address these questions and show you how your donation makes this critical work possible.

The global pandemic has made it clear that Black and Brown communities are systematically excluded when it comes to access to health care, good paying jobs, and equal opportunities. Besides being disproportionately affected by the pandemic, we know that the outdoor industry has also historically and intentionally excluded people of color. All of these social and economic challenges are heartbreaking for our organization because we believe that the outdoors can provide transformative healing, education, empowerment, and community for anyone. We want to share how we are approaching these problems, and what our plans are for the future.

Micro Ventures

At the start of the year, no one could have predicted we’d cancel 2020 in-person events and programming. However, the team at SheJumps brainstormed a solution to bring outdoor learning opportunities to all ages. Micro Ventures is the result of our quest to create a connection to the outdoors in a way that provides easy-to-understand, fun, and potentially life-saving information that is free and accessible to anyone.

Every Wednesday since May 6, we’ve released a new Micro Ventures activity, complete with downloadable PDFs and instructional videos. Micro Ventures reimagine a new connection to nature that doesn’t require expensive equipment or access to a majestic mountain backdrop. The activities are free and also suitable for all ages and geographic locations. Your support invests in this public asset, which also serves to build a more inclusive outdoor education pathway. We need donations to scale these resources to teachers, parents with kids at home, schools, and community organizations who need all the support they can get.

Inclusive Urban & Mountain Adventure

When it’s safe to host in-person events, our SheJumps Wild Skills program will feature Mountain and/or Urban Adventures (depending on geography) open to everyone. In an effort to ensure outdoor adventure and knowledge is empowering as many humans as possible, we will deliver our core Wild Skills lessons in an easy ‘choose-your-own-adventure’ format (including Leave No Trace, the 10 Essentials, shelter building, first aid, and navigation).

An additional benefit of this approach is that it will be easier for partner organizations to participate. By including the whole family or small groups from other organizations, we can empower entire communities, not just individuals. We are also sharing our resources as a way to provide knowledge and access to those individuals who have been excluded. While we will still host female-identifying events and programs, we will be sure to provide these basic building-block experiences to everyone.

Support SheJumps so we can continue to transform fear of failure into fearless action through impactful programs and events.

Will you consider making a $10 monthly recurring donation to help SheJumps? We need your help to reach and inspire more girls and women. We want to show all women and girls that nature provides a way for us to become comfortable with challenges; helping us to become resilient in the face of adversity. Our free and low-cost programs ensure that ALL women and girls have access to the outdoors, regardless of age, background, ethnicity, or race.

If you set up a convenient monthly donation of $10 or more to help SheJumps, we’ll send you a gift from EcoLips! As an added bonus, you’ll also be entered to win some amazing prizes from our generous partners.

Join us. Spread the word. Make a donation. It ALL makes a difference when we jump together.

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