The UConn Foundation is proud to partner with the University on diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice (DEIJ) initiatives. As President and CEO of the Foundation, I commend the University for launching this website to showcase the pan-university initiatives that support DEIJ. In our partnership with the University, we are committed to advancing DEIJ dialogue internally, as well as externally with our alumni, donors, and friends. The Foundation stands proudly alongside UConn in these efforts, which we believe make UConn a better place for all.
The UConn Foundation, Inc. is committed to supporting the University and the Office for Diversity and Inclusion in the critical work of making UConn a more justice-oriented and anti-racist institution. We firmly believe in leading by example and working in solidarity with the UConn community to uphold these core values and be a driver of positive change at UConn and in our communities. By providing quality programs and services for UConn’s alumni and supporters, and by serving as the primary fundraising vehicle for the University, The UConn Foundation ensures that philanthropic resources – both time and treasure – are secured to leverage and support research and innovation, educational programs, and public service.
As an organization, we are positioned to help shape UConn Nation’s future, and we know that also requires our team to take a critical look at our own organization with an equity lens. This begins with our commitment to developing an inclusive workplace culture by providing continued learning opportunities for our team. In this spirit, The UConn Foundation established the IDEA (Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Action) Taskforce in 2020 made up of over 15 volunteer staff members from across all departments. In its first year, the taskforce conducted an internal assessment with a DEI consultant, coordinated mandatory training sessions covering Cultural Humility, Implicit Bias, and Microaggressions, and provided recommendations, policies and guidelines related to the recruitment, retention, and training of staff. While these internal efforts reflect our commitment to DEIJ, we recognize that we must act in support of these principles. The Foundation believes that we can most fully support DEIJ in the University when we support DEIJ efforts in our own department.
The UConn Foundation remains committed to partnering with the University to elevate this critical dialogue in celebration of UConn’s diverse alumni and donor constituencies and in support of our joint efforts to advancing the critical work of DEIJ. The DEIJ website will serve as a powerful resource in this work. Furthermore, through the focused energy of the IDEA taskforce, The UConn Foundation will continue to elevate our internal and external efforts in this regard. Concrete steps have been taken to offer more inclusive engagement opportunities and align fundraising support with designated university priorities in the DEIJ space. For the first time in our history, we are actively tracking funds raised in support of DEIJ designated areas, and in partnership with IDEA, we will form a focus group of alumni from diverse backgrounds to help us assess and broaden how we message to, program for, and acknowledge all of UConn Nation.
Indeed, this internal and external DEIJ lens is critical for an organization focused on philanthropy – defined literally as the love of humankind. Only by working together will we be able to push toward the justice-oriented organization we want to be and one that reflects our diverse communities.
Jake Lemon, President & CEO, The UConn Foundation