Round Table Technology
Funders General Social Justice/Advocacy

Grant supports racial equity efforts at Camp Fire First Texas

Written by Mindia Whittier

The funding was part of $235,000 in grants to 28 community-based organizations

Camp Fire First Texas will initiate the next phase of advancing racial equity training and implementation for the organization with support from ToolBox Grants at North Texas Community Foundation.

Camp Fire First Texas is one of the largest Camp Fire councils in the country and invests in North Texas communities by providing out-of-school time and outdoor learning programs for children and youth while also offering workforce development programs for the educators who care for them.

The grant will partially fund a DEI consultant to guide the council to understand and apply a racial equity, diversity, and inclusion lens to all programs, projects, and initiatives. The process will also intentionally cultivate opportunities for new learning and authentic connections that foster an atmosphere of trust, accountability, and transformation to build an organization where all children and adults thrive.

“Our intention is to break down established processes, functional silos, and leadership habits to open up and more proactively share stories of what life is really like for historically marginalized people,” said Lauren Richard, President/CEO of Camp Fire First Texas. “We realize that while DEI programs may check a box, they don’t always result in behavior change, cultural transformation, or system rethinking.”

Advancing DEI values makes Camp Fire’s work stronger and more responsive to the challenges faced by those the organization works with and for. The agency says it is incumbent upon team members within the organization to question and act upon—instead of reproducing—the structural inequities present in society. Camp Fire’s goal of this funding is to make an impact that is equitable for, empowering, and driven by people living in the neighborhoods where programs operate.

To guide the work, Camp Fire secured Racial Equity Coach and Consultant, Caazena P. Hunter. Caazena holds a dual B.A. in Spanish and Sociology, with an International Studies Certificate, from the University of Tulsa, and an M.A. in Sociology from the University of North Texas. She co-authored Race and Reciprocity: Inter-household Exchanges in a Multiracial Neighborhood.

Caazena began her career as a teaching fellow at the University of North Texas, which led to her teaching Sociology at colleges and universities throughout the DFW Metroplex including UNT, UNT Dallas, and Tarleton. Caazena only works with organizations that speak to personally held passions. She once taught elementary Spanish, served as a Research Analyst, and worked for the census. She later transitioned into providing financial coaching services, leading a small family financial center, and assisting with the development and implementation of a Financial Coaching Institute. Currently, Caazena works as a Racial Equity coach for Dallas, Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation.

Under Caazena’s leadership, the efforts will also be supported by a staff group and will focus on:

  • Radically including people of color that have historically been treated inequitably.
  • Ensuring equity in the procedures, processes, and distribution of resources within the council while understanding the root causes of the disparities in society.
  • Fostering an inclusive culture in which everyone is welcomed, heard and included in the decision-making process.

Organizational impact goals to be reached with this next phase of funding include developing shared language and principles around equity needed to navigate multiple systems of power, privilege, and dominance; developing knowledge and understanding of messaging; learning how to use values cues instead of assuming that equity explains itself; and amplifying other equity-minded advocate’s work.

Toolbox Grants are provided by North Texas Community Foundation to build the capacity of nonprofit organizations working to combat poverty by supporting board development, fundraising or strategic planning. The grants are intended to be one-time, transformative gifts that significantly improve the way the organizations operate. Funding is focused on organizations serving Tarrant County’s most vulnerable communities, based on the CDC’s social vulnerability index.

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About the author

Mindia Whittier