On June 5, 2020, the Appalachia Service Project Board of Directors adopted a public statement in response to the death of George Floyd. While the statement spoke to the larger issue of racism nationally, it also confronted ASP’s own need for improvement in supporting diversity, equity and the stand against racism. A committee of Board members and staff was formed to examine ASP’s policies and culture, to highlight actions already in place to promote diversity as a result of our strategic plan, and to develop a specific plan to do more through education, policy change, intentional recruitment efforts, and advocacy. This plan has now been completed, with assignments made in our August staff meeting.

Here are some plan highlights:

  • Educate and train staff and Board about anti-racism and anti-discrimination.
  • Review current policies and procedures and make changes where needed to ensure diversity and equity.
  • Recruit Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) for permanent and summer staff as well as inviting historically black/persons of color churches to join in our mission.
  • Partner with community-based BIPOC organizations to understand how best to serve local community needs.
  • Serve in more BIPOC communities throughout central Appalachia.
  • Advocate for diversity and equity throughout our service area and highlight BIPOC organizations and events in Appalachia to our constituency.

At ASP, we are praying for justice and lasting peace. As believers, we have been called to be “doers of the word, and not merely hearers who deceive themselves.” Jesus walked the way of nonviolence and peace, a difficult road to travel, and was able to inspire radical change. Throughout our history, ASP has been a light for social justice, seeking to change the world for good through our actions. Service has been our middle name, believing not only that the servant leadership of our Savior is the way that leads to life, but that transformation occurs when those of differing backgrounds commune and serve together, building relationships through mutuality, understanding, and respect. We are committed to improving the lives of those living in economic poverty, promoting hope through friendship, and allowing the Christian witness of our mission to inspire others. But we can do better, and we are working towards that end.