AWSL Equity initiatives

AWSL Equity Committee

As part of AWSP's 3 year strategic mission, which integrates Equity as an overarching goal for all programs, AWSL is convening a 16 member AWSL Equity Committee to propose new programs and initiatives, direct existing programs, shape our policies and procedures, and inform our existing programs and staffs to better serve all students. The equity committee meets for retreat at the Cispus Learning Center, and as they continue to develop programs and materials, we will be rolling out those resources in our monthly In the Loop newsletter, as well as archiving many of those resources on this page. Of course, we will always be looking for additional professionals interested in supporting our equity initiatives, and encourage anyone interested to contact Van Anderson ( at AWSL.

Leadership Equity Journey Journal

Equity work is both a personal journey of discovery as well as a goal supported by thoughtful policy and practices. At its root is the idea that ALL students will receive the supports they need at the time they need for academic and social success in schools. The idea is embedded in the Declaration of Independence: "all men are created equal with the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” It is our continuing struggle as a nation to enact policies and promote societal attitudes to make this true for all. The promise in the founding words of our nation have always been greater than the reality of our history. When the words were written in 1776, every racial and ethnic group and an entire gender was left out through government policy, except for white male property owners.

Equity is also front and center in the Washington State Constitution with the guiding words that “all students” shall be “amply funded” to meet their learning needs.

As AWSL continues its equity journey, we are examining our policies and practices and plan to highlight aspects of the work in our feature section of In the Loop each month. Our first installment is providing you a template to start an equity journal to make connections, explore questions, gather resources and begin to change practices. Our goal is to have multiple people participate in the activity of keeping an Equity Journey Journal, then share the group learning in June.

By joining forces, promoting allyship and finding solidarity within the work of equity, AWSL plans to be a conduit where both staff and students find the help they need to create stronger schools.

Equity Journey Journal part 1

Existing and Emerging Camps and Programs

In 2004, AWSL developed its first program designed to explicitly address an equity issue in student leadership with the creation of the La Cima bilingual/bicultural leadership camp. In the intervening years, we have expanded the La Cima model to a middle-level regional program, ¡La Chipsa! Other camps have been developed to address the needs of Deaf, Deafblind and hard-of-hearing students, non-traditional student leaders and to provide culturally responsive leadership experiences for Native American students.

AWSL Policies and Procedures

From the very first principal sponsored leadership programs asking for each school to send one boy and one girl to camp as a means of counteracting gender inequity in schools of the 1950s, AWSL's programs have always strived to push ourselves out of complacence and into tackling emerging areas of consciousness. As we become aware of inequity in educational environments, we develop policies and procedures to quantify and counteract systemic inequity in leadership education so that the leaders of tomorrow can better reflect the lived experiences of the world to come.

Underserved populations

With the adoption of our new Strategic Plan, AWSL has begun optionally asking for anonymous demographic data on program participants, beginning with all summer leadership and cheerleadership camp participants in 2018. The demographic surveys seek to measure representation among race/ethnic identities, primary language at home, socio-economic indicators, home/family structure, LGBTQ identities, educational accommodations (IEP, AP, ELL etc) and leadership program access. With this information, we hope to provide a baseline comparison to the demographics of Washington state students as a whole, as well as identify strategies for reducing barriers to leadership education experiences. We will be encouraging individual schools to begin comparing the demographics of their leadership programs to their student bodies, as we begin to evaluate our program participation on the basis of statewide student demographics.

Trans* and Non Gender-Binary policies

For several years, AWSL has been including non-cisgendered participants in our programs following best practices established by OSPI to respect the gender identities of the trans* and non gender-binary individuals, while providing alternative facilities for cisgendered individuals who are uncomfortable or have privacy concerns sharing accommodations with non-cisgendered individuals. Utilizing open communication strategies, we have been able to successfully include trans* and non gender-binary individuals into several of our past programs, providing a positive experience for all program attendees. As we continue to develop institutional competency in these situations, AWSL has included "Other" as a gender option in our high school registration forms in order to positively invite schools and students to affirm non-cisgendered identities in our programs, in the hope that our openness can ease perceived barriers to participation.