The C&O Canal Trust Board of Directors approved a Board Resolution at their June meeting affirming the Trust’s commitment to the principles of diversity, equity, and inclusion. Although the statement had been in the works for months, its passage now – as the nation reckons with its history of racial inequity – underscores how imperative it is that we continue to integrate these important principles into all facets of our organization.
Our Canal For All program, which focuses on connecting African-American and Latinx communities in Montgomery County with the C&O Canal National Historical Park, began in 2016 as a concerted effort to bring traditionally underrepresented audiences out to the Park to work, play, learn, and serve.
This program thrives on partnerships with organizations who work with youth of diverse backgrounds, including Identity, an organization that provides opportunities for Latinx and other historically underserved youth to reach their highest potential, and Community Bridges, which empowers girls from diverse backgrounds to become exceptional students and leaders. Through Canal For All, youth from these organizations have participated in a variety of activities in the Park, including Latino Conservation Week, bike rides on the towpath, educational hikes around Great Falls, stays in Canal Quarters lockhouses, and clean-up activities as part of Canal Pride.
Thanks to funding from the Montgomery County Council, a Conservation Jobs Corps (CJC) program was added in the summer of 2019 in partnership with the Montgomery County Department of Recreation’s TeenWorks program and the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. This program allows teens to work alongside National Park Service staff to preserve the C&O Canal’s assets and learn job skills.
Besides continuing our work in diversifying our programs, the new Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Resolution calls for an organizational culture welcoming to all people and calls for the formation of a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Advisory Committee that will guide the Trust’s progress towards these ideals.