WAICU-member colleges and universities have long had a commitment to addressing issues of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI). Building on a rich history of moral and cultural commitment, these initiatives reflect a belief in educational opportunity and that education can change the world. Early ties to abolitionists and involvement in the sometimes dangerous civil rights protests of the 1960’s are but two examples. I am in awe!
The WAICU Multicultural Group, comprised of faculty, staff, and students at WAICU colleges and universities, stepped up to organize an annual student diversity workshop. The leadership comes from within communities who have been left behind. WAICU’s role is to support and respond. Recently, WAICU has taken our efforts to the next level. WAICU applied for and received a First Opportunity Partners Grant from The Council on Independent Colleges (CIC) to create a WAICU Advancement Diversity Internship program to enhance diversity efforts among staff within WAICU-member Advancement offices.
WAICU members have identified a lack of a diverse pool of candidates applying for positions in advancement. The lack of diversity may be due to limited awareness of these types of careers and the opportunities that exist. Sometimes underserved communities embrace self-taught, individualized, approaches to giving. The systematic tradition of giving may be unfamiliar to them. For these and other reasons, individuals of color may not consider philanthropy as a career path.
The goal of the WAICU Advancement Diversity Internship program is to encourage more diversity in Wisconsin’s private, nonprofit college and university advancement offices by offering a meaningful, experiential learning opportunity for students of color. Interns will receive valuable professional experience and networking opportunities with leaders in the advancement field who will serve as mentors, as well as a community of support with fellow interns from the program. This program is designed to provide experiences to students of color to expose them to systematic philanthropy as a career option.
This effort will improve the career preparation of individuals who may be considering a career in this field of work and/or expose them to an opportunity not previously considered. It could also improve the retention and graduation rates of students of color by further connecting students to the institution themselves and enhancing their skillset for career preparation.
The WAICU Advancement Diversity Internship program is scheduled to roll out in the summer of 2022, and WAICU is coordinating a series of trainings for WAICU Advancement staff in advance of the rollout. Registration for the first training for Advancement officers, being held virtually on December 15, 2021, was sent in early December. The second training is scheduled for February 15, 2022. We are grateful to CIC for selecting WAICU for this important program. WAICU will share updates on the program in future editions of the Independent. For now I just want to say that the initiative and the recognition belongs, not to WAICU, but to those in the trenches who act.