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First Descents (FD) operates at the confluence of two industries with significant and systemic inequities: healthcare and outdoor recreation. FD addresses disparities within outdoor and healthcare spaces through its commitment to justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion (JEDI). We believe that everyone deserves to experience the healing power of adventure, so we build and maintain a culture of inclusion amongst participants, staff, and volunteers, while ensuring that all involved with our mission feel included, empowered, and worthy. FD invests in JEDI practices throughout the workplace, across partnerships, within program recruitment, design, delivery, and measurement and evaluation, and through ongoing advocacy support of its beneficiaries. This cross-cutting approach ensures equitable implementation and engagement across all strategic priorities.
Build and maintain a culture of inclusion amongst the First Descents team and community.
Collect comprehensive data to demonstrate measurable progress against FD’s commitment to JEDI.
We know that cancer and other serious health conditions disproportionately impact BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ communities. First Descents continues to listen, learn and create change as we partner with advocacy groups, hospitals, healthcare organizations, and outdoor industry leaders to better serve all communities impacted by cancer and multiple sclerosis (MS). Our approach reflects our commitment, with a focus on addressing financial barriers, adaptive programming, building partnerships, continued training and education, data collection, measurement and evaluation, and accountability.
Free Adventures & Travel Scholarships
For patients and caregivers experiencing the vast challenges of a serious illness, financial toxicity remains an acute reality. FD works to guarantee equitable access to programming for individuals of all financial positions. To do so, FD’s programs are fully funded by charitable contributions to remain free of charge to participants. Additionally, we offer travel scholarships to any participant upon request. Most importantly, this practice allows participants to access survivorship programs that align with their interests and ability, and expose them to new avenues of healing with supportive peers.
For young adults impacted by cancer and MS, secondary complications after their diagnosis – including fatigue, vision impairment, and mobility concerns – are very common. We strive to make every program fully adaptable to each participant’s needs, and we partner with adaptive organizations and outfitters to make modifications to meet individuals where they’re at in their healing journey. For more information, check out our Adaptability Guide.
Central to our work is an emphasis on partnerships. FD partners with national and local advocacy organizations to plan programs that enable diverse communities to experience the healing power of adventure. This involves working with experts and partners, both before and after programs, to help guide the ongoing care of those we serve through patient navigation.
Data, Measurement and Analysis
In recent years, we’ve revised our data collection, and measurement and evaluation processes to ensure a better understanding of all participant entry points. This enables us to better track our community demographics, analyze where barriers exist, and build future strategies based on learnings from the data.
Continuing Education & Action
We are committed to learning and to showing up as a staff and an organization. All First Descents employees, Board members, contractors and volunteers take part in annual JEDI training. Additional JEDI education resources are available and encouraged on an ongoing basis through our partnership with Camber Outdoors.
JEDI Advisory Council
In 2020, we assembled a diverse group of business leaders, educators, and advocates to further support our commitment to justice, equity, diversity and inclusion. The JEDI Advisory Council’s major function is to share knowledge, expertise, and vision with FD’s internal JEDI Committee, Leadership Team, and Board of Directors, helping to assess internal systems and enhance diversity, equity, and inclusion policies and practices in the workplace and throughout the communities we serve.