New Era Colorado’s Equity Statement

August 20, 2020

New Era Colorado was founded in 2006 with a single, unifying mission: to mobilize and empower young people to shape our democracy and advance progressive change. For over 14 years, we have been working to build youth political power in our state because we know that young people play an important role in moving our country forward. And yet, they face significant and systematic challenges when it comes to accessing democracy: they are the least likely to be registered, move often and need to update their address, lack access to the logistics of voting, and most importantly—they don’t feel represented or seen in politics. We also know that, in addition to these barriers, young people of color face the most entrenched injustices in our society–through our socioeconomic, educational, healthcare, and political systems–and have battled for centuries against sustained efforts to disenfranchise and silence them. 

In the face of these obstacles, as an organization, we haven’t done enough to center young people of color, particularly young Black people, in our work, and we’ve left people behind. We have operated with the assumption that voting is the epitome of civic engagement, and holding this singular view of democracy has disempowered people. We haven’t done enough to challenge the racial power dynamics that exist in the cities we work in, and we have perpetuated those dynamics within our organization. 

First and foremost, we apologize to the people who have been harmed by our work: our volunteers, interns, and former staff—especially, folks of color. We failed to uplift the experiences and address the political injustices uniquely faced by young people of color, to invest in the communities that experience the most barriers to accessing democracy in all its forms, and to develop young people into anti-racist leaders. 

We also recognize that many former staff have tried to push us to be better, but that work has often fallen on the people of color in our organization–specifically Black and Brown folks. To the people who have advocated for change, we apologize for not taking action sooner, and we are so grateful for your courage to call attention to the ways we’ve been harming marginalized communities. As a powerful organization, we need to do better. New Era’s leadership and all white folks on staff take responsibility for and are committed to putting in the work to dismantle white supremacy at our organization. 

At New Era, we believe that centering anti-racism is the only way to attain liberation for all. The intentional, deep integration of racism in our country’s institutions, policies, communities, and individuals requires that the move toward justice and liberation begins by tackling white supremacy. We know that white supremacy upholds many other systems of oppression–including cisheteropatriarchy and class oppression–and that our efforts to dismantle it in our organization will require us to unlearn and reject these systems as well.

Diversity, equity and inclusion are three of New Era’s core values, and we’re finally starting to practice the values we preach. In 2016, we established an Advocacy department in order to expand our capacity to do more work on issues that disproportionately impact young people–especially young people of color–such as student debt, abortion stigma, climate, and election access. In 2017 and again in 2019, we began an internal equity process; now, we’re on a journey to transform into a truly anti-racist organization. We’ve been taking steps towards individual, programmatic, and organizational transformation. We also understand that this type of deep organizational transformation will take us a long time, and we’re prepared to do this work for years to come. Here’s what we’ve gotten started, and we’re eager to further expand our equity work. 

  • Hiring consultants to work with us on this transformation
  • Ensuring that everybody we hire is equally committed to doing the work needed to transform New Era
  • Prioritizing a commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion for new board members
  • Requiring all staff to engage with materials that will increase their understanding of diversity, equity, inclusion and what practicing those values looks like
  • Requiring all base staff to undergo extensive training on anti-Black racism. For example, Soul2Soul Sisters’ Facing Racism program. 
  • Creating an internal equity committee that meets regularly to discuss feedback and recommendations for the organization
  • Suspending the practice of an unpaid internship while we re-evaluate new models for leadership development
  • Working on issues that disproportionately impact people of color, like student debt and abortion access, and incorporating racial justice and intersectional language in our messaging. 
  • Engaging department and program leads in creating equity blueprints for their areas of work, centering their visions for liberation and equity, naming the existing gaps, and developing actionable steps forward
  • Creating a transparent salary bands policy based on pay ranges at similar Colorado nonprofits. Increasing pay to be competitive and compensating staff for the work they do.
  • Opening sacred spaces for people of color within our organization to heal

We recognize that living out anti-racism as an organization will not simply entail checking off items on a list and announcing we are done, that we have arrived. Our hope is that this journey leads us to a place where, as an organization, we are authentically centering the experiences and leadership of young people of color in our program work; dismantling white supremacy within our organizational systems, policies and culture, and rebuilding anew; and ensuring that we have a thriving, diverse team of staff and board members advancing our mission. New Era must also weave anti-racism into our theory of change as an organization. 

We will still do what we do best: organizing young people for progressive change. We will dig into this through our strategic planning process in 2021, but we begin this work by ensuring our programs embody the values of dignity and justice–from the issues we advocate for, to our interactions with young people in the field, and ultimately the metrics we hold ourselves accountable to. We believe in the power of young people to fight for the dignity and humanity for all–and that starts by fighting for those same principles within the walls of New Era. Our mission as an organization remains the same; yet, we understand that to truly realize our founding vision, we must intentionally center the voices of those most marginalized both within our organization and out in the world. And through this public statement, we call on our friends, community, partners, and co-conspirators to hold us accountable in this work moving forward. 



New Era leadership: Executive Director, Directors, Managers

Young people: people under 34 years old

Base staff: New Era staff that work year-round

Diversity: the presence of differences that may include race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, ethnicity, nationality, socioeconomic status, language, (dis)ability, age, religious commitment, or political perspective.  Populations that have been-and remain- underrepresented among practitioners in the field and marginalized in the broader society.

Equity: promoting justice, impartiality and fairness within the procedures, processes, and distribution of resources by institutions or systems.  Tackling equity issues requires an understanding of the root causes of outcome disparities within our society.

Inclusion: an outcome to ensure those that are diverse actually feel and/or are welcomed.  Inclusion outcomes are met when you, your institution, and your program are truly inviting to all.  To the degree to which diverse individuals are able to participate fully in the decision-making processes and development opportunities within an organization or group. 

Anti-racist: the practice of identifying, challenging, and changing the values, structures and behaviors that perpetuate systemic racism

BIPOC: Black, Indigenous, and People of Color

White Supremacy: an institutionally perpetuated system of exploitation and oppression of continents, nations, and people of color by white people and European countries for the sole purpose of maintaining and defending systems of wealth, power, and privilege. It is the idea that white people and the ideas, thoughts, beliefs, and actions of white people are superior to people of color and their ideas, thoughts, beliefs, and actions.

White privilege: White privilege refers to the unmerited set of advantages, entitlement, benefits, and choices given to people simply because they are white.

Institutional racism: institutional policies, and practices that create different outcomes for different racial groups.

White fragility: a state in which even a minimum amount of racial stress becomes intolerable, triggering a range of defensive moves. These moves include the outward display of emotions such as anger, fear, crying, and guilt, and behaviors such as argumentation, silence, and leaving the stress-inducing situation. These behaviors, in turn, function to reinstate white racial equilibrium.

Structural racism: in America, it is the normalization and legitimization of an array of dynamics — historical, cultural, institutional, and interpersonal — that routinely advantage whites while producing snowballing and chronic adverse outcomes for people of color. It is a system of hierarchy and inequity, primarily characterized by white supremacy.

White exceptionalism: refers to those white people who believe they are the exception to white supremacy. Believing that you are excluded because you don’t say or do what “real racist” white people do.

Reparations: serve to acknowledge the legal obligation of a state, or individual(s) or group, to repair the consequences of violations — either because it directly committed them or it failed to prevent them.

Emotional labor: labor that BIPOC experience when they are unwillingly dragged into conversations about race. It is emotionally taxing.

Ally: an individual who makes the commitment and effort to recognize their privilege (based on gender, class, race, sexual identity, etc.) and work in solidarity with oppressed groups in the struggle for justice. Allies understand that it is in their own interest to end all forms of oppression, even those from which they may benefit in concrete ways.

Optical allyship or performative allyship: Optical allyship puts white people at the center of the justice issues that BIPOC are fighting for, which is the core of white supremacy.

Prejudice: A pre-judgment or unjustifiable, and usually negative, attitude of one type of individual or groups toward another group and its members. 

Power: the access to resources, to decision-makers to get what you want done, the ability to influence others, and the ability to define reality for yourself and others. Power can be visible, hidden, or invisible and can show up as power over others, power with others, and/or power within.

Oppression: The systematic subjugation of one social group by a more robust social group for the social, economic, and political benefit of the more powerful social group.

Cisgender: refers to a person whose personal identity and gender corresponds with the sex they were assigned at birth. 

Cisheteropatriarchy: a system of power based on the supremacy & dominance of cisgendered, heterosexual men through the exploitation & oppression of women and LGBTQIA+ folks

Resource Page/Works Cited