hand of a white person and hand of a black person making a heart together
The
C.A.R.E.
Committee
How Achieve3000 is Turning a Renewed Commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Into a Roadmap for Change
T

he tragic deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor, among others, had a profound effect on everyone in America. Achieve3000 has used those tragic events as a clarion call to rededicate itself to promoting respect, unity, diversity, equity, and social justice.
We Can Do Better.
We Will Do Better.

The company wanted to show its employees, students, customers, and partners that it not only sees the inequality and injustice in America today, but it also cares. So, on June 15, 2020, it created the C.A.R.E. Committee. C.A.R.E. is an acronym for Community Action for Respect & Equity, and it is designed to increase awareness of social and cultural issues and change behaviors.

Led by Monique Hamilton, VP of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, and Dr. Dana Davis, executive director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, the C.A.R.E. Committee began as an internal initiative whose preliminary goal was to start generating productive thinking and conversations within the organization.

A Mandate for Change

“Achieve3000 CEO Stuart Udell contacted Monique and me,” said Davis, “and he told us that he wanted Achieve3000 to be part of the solution rather than part of the problem. Then he asked us if we could help him make that happen.”

So, Hamilton and Davis went to work. They talked about what Achieve3000 was hoping to accomplish, collaborated closely with Udell who selected the 24 committee members, established objectives and guidelines, and created a fact sheet that outlined the following goals:

  • Strengthen partnerships with content teams to ensure a continuing emphasis and focus on equity and culturally relevant content
  • Consult with the human resources team to increase qualified diversity candidates
  • Create a themed series of internal conversations focusing on the committee’s mission
  • Provide continuing external presentations aimed at educating and involving customers and partners in promoting equity, diversity, and inclusivity
  • Advocate for continuous internal discussions focused on expanding inclusivity among all Achieve3000 employees
“The Achieve3000 C.A.R.E. Committee pledges to foster a diverse and inclusive working environment that promotes respect, equity, and access for all employees and partners.”
First Sentence of C.A.R.E. Committee Mission Statement
woman holding Black Lives Matter sign
It Started with a Conversation

“For the past six months, we’ve been having conversations; we’ve been doing presentations; we’ve been hosting webinars,” said Hamilton, “and all of these interactions are designed to get people thinking about and talking about the issues.”

The C.A.R.E. Committee is still in its infancy, but its impact is already being felt throughout the company.

“We’ve been having a series of group Zoom meetings that we call C.A.R.E. Conversations,” said Udell, “and these conversations are eye-opening; they’re healthy; and sometimes they’re painful. But they’re conversations we need to have.”

The C.A.R.E. Conversations, which are being held monthly, revolve around the committee’s mission and incorporate both employees and special guest speakers to explore the critical challenges Achieve3000 and all companies in America today are facing. The response has been exceptional, with the meetings regularly drawing more than half of the company’s 300+ employees.

In a recent C.A.R.E. Conversation, five Achieve3000 employees led a panel discussion in which they talked about moments in their lives when they experienced discrimination and marginalization. The 150+ Achieve3000 employees who were on the call were asked to take notes and think about similar moments in their own lives.

Fear Less, Love More sign
“For six months, we’ve been having conversations, doing presentations, and hosting webinars. All these interactions are designed to get people thinking about and talking about the issues.”
Monique Hamilton, VP of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
It Became Something Bigger

While the C.A.R.E. Committee began as an internal initiative, it has now developed into a customer-facing program as well. Recently, Hamilton and Davis have worked with Kim Junge, Achieve3000’s senior event Marketing Director, on a series of webinars designed to start similar conversations with Achieve3000’s customers.

The first of these webinars, “An Evening with Nicole Bailey-Williams,” which took place on February 17, featured Bailey-Williams, an educator, on-air radio personality, and author of the acclaimed book “A Little Piece of Sky.” The book tells the story of Song, an African American girl from humble beginnings who, through self-examination and diligence, can decide what kind of future she wants.

“We’re excited about the response we’ve gotten. 500 people registered for the webinar, and 150 attended,” said Junge. “We’re always looking for timely content to share with customers, and I can’t think of anything more important or relevant to be sharing at this moment.”

The second webinar, “An Evening with Artist Tarra Conner Jones,” happened on March 30. Conner Jones is an educator turned actor, whose regional credits include “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” “The Color Purple,” “Dreamgirls,” and “Ain’t Misbehavin’.” Her 2017 cabaret show, “Here Is Love,” received a rave review from BroadwayWorld Sarasota, which wrote, “Miss Conner Jones took the stage, owned the stage, and captured our hearts.”

“Monique and Dana have done a fantastic job. Now that they’ve got the ball rolling, we need to keep it going. That’s on me. That’s on the rest of the leadership team. That’s on all of us.”
Stuart Udell, CEO, Achieve3000
students in front of lockers
Learning and Growing Together

The C.A.R.E. Committee is an integral part of Achieve3000’s efforts to increase awareness of cultural and social justice issues. Its mission and activities are ongoing. Recently, the C.A.R.E. Committee welcomed nine new members, expanding its current membership to 33. Achieve3000 also added Davis to its Executive Leadership team.

“Our plan in creating the C.A.R.E. Committee was just to start a conversation,” said Udell, “but thanks to the wonderful work of Dana and Monique, as well as the enthusiastic participation and support of our other employees, it’s already done so much more than that.”

Achieve3000 has focused on issues such as social justice, diversity, and equity in its digital learning solutions as well, as CAO Kevin Baird pointed out.

“It’s really important that we as adults focus on these critical social issues, but it’s equally important that we bring them to the attention of our students,” said Baird. “That’s why they can find stories about George Floyd and other victims of racial violence in our solutions. They can also find authentic, mother tongue stories from members of the African and Haitian diaspora, thanks to our partnership with NABU Publishing.”

Being the Change You Want to See

Udell said he was proud of the efforts Achieve3000 has made through the C.A.R.E. Committee, but he acknowledged that the organization still has more work to do.

We Are All Human typography
“All we’ve done so far is take the first step. Monique and Dana have done a fantastic job of engaging our people, having productive conversations, and raising awareness,” said Udell. “Now that they’ve got the ball rolling, we need to keep it going. That’s on me. That’s on the rest of the leadership team. That’s on all of us.”

When asked how he would know when the C.A.R.E. Committee had accomplished its mission, Udell said, “I don’t see there being a finish line. I just want us to do better — every minute, every hour, every day.”