Introducing Catalyst:Ed’s New DEI Project Intake Form

by Nybria Acklin, Associate, DEI at Catalyst:Ed

Nybria Acklin, Associate on the DEI team, introduces the new project intake process for all incoming DEI project requests in this blog post. She documents the process from inspiration to implementation, highlighting the key points of collaboration with multiple stakeholders.


The DEI Expert Hub first launched in 2018 to address the growing need and conversations in the sector around identifying strategies to address the regrowing desire to engage with DEI issues, and to help organizations identify the best technical assistance provider to take on this work. The DEI Team, Tre Johnson (DEI Partner) and I (DEI Associate) have managed the DEI Expert Hub for almost 2 years and made a few observations about our process from time to time. With almost 3 years under the DEI Expert Hub’s belt and several dozen matched projects later, we decided to spend the last several months revisiting and revising the DEI Expert Hub’s intake process, and we’d like to introduce our new DEI Intake Form and share why we decided to update it.

Traditionally, when organizations first “list” a project with us, they answer a short questionnaire before we schedule a follow-up conversation. Although our questionnaire could give us insight into what organization partners were looking for, at times it did not provide enough context and left both parties with misaligned expectations coming into the scoping call. As a team, we noticed two trends: 

  • Sometimes organizational vulnerabilities were harder to understand without full context, and we often learned key pieces of information that would change our approach after the listing period.
  • Organizations listing with us for the first time are just getting to know who we are and what we do. At times, these organizations may not be prepared to articulate their project needs, or fully open to answering tough questions about their organization’s context or DEI journey. 

Although we appreciated the initial insights our questionnaire provided us, it made sense to redesign an intake process that would set both the Catalyst:Ed DEI Team and Partner Organizations up for success when beginning our process. 

Process 

The idea to revamp the survey actually began nearly a year ago in partnership with Miakoda Taylor, Fierce Allies’s lead consultant, giving us a good foundation to start with. After conducting our own feedback and review process of the form, we wanted to get stakeholders’ feedback, too. We reached out to individuals in our key stakeholder groups that we knew that were deeply familiar with our work, – our provider network, partner organizations, and our teammates – believing that they had important insights to share regarding what a successful questionnaire redesign would look like. We finalized the form by synthesizing the most consistent feedback among all stakeholder groups. Many meetings later, the intake form was reviewed, finalized, and transitioned onto a survey platform for a better user experience. 

For now, the intake form is split into two parts. The DEI Project Interest Form is the first touchpoint where organization partners share interest, while the DEI Project Listing Form enables the partner organization to think through and provide the more in-depth, explicit context and grounding required before we can connect with them for a successful scoping call.

Takeaways 

We hope the new intake process will prepare partner organizations to connect with us as they think more deeply about their organizational context, DEI journey, and proposed project. The information that partner organizations provide will help ground the DEI team in what’s important and properly assess how to best support the partner organization. 

The new intake process will set expectations for both parties, with the hope that it will result in the following: 

  • Properly assessed needs and more in-depth follow-up calls translating to more context captured on project scopes
  • Contextually detailed project scopes will provide DEI providers, especially independent providers, with richer context needed to confidently apply to project listings

If you are interested in learning more or would like to speak with Tre and I please email Tre Johnson – DEI Partner, and Nybria Acklin – DEI Associate. 

Thank Yous

Many Thanks to the following education leaders, DEI practitioners, and Catalyst:Ed team members who provided the feedback to make the intake survey what it is now. 

Author Anderson, Author Anderson & Associates

Andrew Daub, oneTILT

Bernadette Doykos, Catalyst:Ed 

Meladee Evans, Catalyst:Ed

Edy Penn, EdReports 

Vanessa Peterson, NWEA

Ursa Scherer, VentureWell

Travis Smith, Catalyst:Ed

Christin Whitener, CW Impact Strategies 

Fierce Allies:  is a community of practitioners catalyzing dynamics of power and privilege towards equity and justice. Through their services, they provide expert coaching, training, consulting, and facilitator training, where participants develop a capacity for honest dialogue with the “other side.” Together, people with privilege engage in the struggle of equity and justice from positions other than shame, blame, and hero, as oppressed people reclaim the power and responsibility for their own liberation. You can learn more about their practice of change, and body of work here

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