This past year, EngageNWA unveiled a four-year plan to ensure everyone in our community feels welcome and included in Northwest Arkansas. The plan put forward a roadmap, which outlined intentional steps for regional partners to work together toward the common goal of maximizing inclusion of everyone in the regional community. Here is a list of updates that showcase some of the strides our region is taking to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion.
CRAFT Professional Development Series
1. The Greater Bentonville Area Chamber of Commerce hired Sierra Polk as their Director of Talent Initiatives and Innovative Inclusion. They also developed and hosted the CRAFT Professional Development Series in partnership with Just Communities of Arkansas as part of the Chamber's equity-driven economic growth and diverse talent initiatives.
2. Rogers Lowell Area Chamber of Commerce is creating a DEI (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion) Council, a board service demonstration project, and DEI training programs for board, committee, and staff members.
3. All of the BIG 5 Chambers of Commerce (Bentonville, Fayetteville, Rogers, Siloam Springs, and Springdale) are now represented in EngageNWA committees.
4. The Northwest Arkansas Council, with the Center for Business and Economic Research at the Walton College of Business, is conducting a survey to better understand the Northwest Arkansas business community's diversity, equity and inclusion efforts.
5. A recent partnership between the Northwest Arkansas Council and the U of A Arkansas Poll measured public perception of diversity and inclusion primarily as it relates to the economy and the workplace. The final report is available HERE.
6. The report Diversity: A Look at How Northwest Arkansas' Population is Changing was made available in Spanish.
Community Forum with City of Springdale
7. The City of Springdale hired Lulu Peredo as their new Welcoming Coordinator and hosted their first community forum this month as part of its Welcoming Communities program.
8. The City of Fayetteville created an online Immigrant Welcoming Hub.
9. The City of Bella Vista is developing a new section in their library devoted to New Americans.
10. Both Fayetteville and Springdale are working regularly with Welcoming America to meet at least two areas of the Welcoming Standard.
11. Canopy NWA hosted a Get to Know Your Local Government Workshop to help newcomers connect with representatives from their city government and school districts.
12. The University of Arkansas – Office for Diversity and Inclusion recently launched the IDEALS Institute with a mission to achieve total campus engagement in actively and genuinely supporting diversity and inclusion ideals,
13. The Teen Action and Support Center is providing parenting classes in Spanish and Marshallese that includes a partnership with Arkansas Coalition of Marshallese.
14. EngageNWA is working with the U of A Office for Education Policy to take a closer look at Northwest Arkansas education data disaggregated by demographics.
A Community Orientation Workshop hosted by Canopy NWA
15. Canopy NWA also hosted 7 free community education workshops designed to connect newcomers with service providers and help them navigate community resources.
16. In January, NWA leaders and advocates participated in the Challenge Day Cohesion and Inclusion Workshop hosted by NWACC Workforce and Economic Development and Kinship. Attendees learned how inclusion and equity are foundational for a just and fair community and for the social and emotional well being of all.
17. Lastly, in February and March, a series of Facing Bias Workshops engaged participants throughout the region, focusing on UA administration and staff, business and community leaders to foster awareness, clarity, reflection and discussion about the concepts of diversity, inclusion, equity, access, unconscious/implicit bias and blind spots.
Did you enjoy these updates? Are you interested in following this work? If so, we have some good news for you! EngageNWA will soon roll out a new "look" and new content on their website, social media and other channels. This will be part of a larger strategic communications plan designed to give community leaders insights, opportunities and support to create and sustain a diverse, equitable and inclusive NWA region. Stay tuned!
Did we miss something that should be featured? Let us know and we will be glad to share it with EngageNWA!