Commitment to Equity

Updated: July 1, 2020

As a member of Philadelphia’s arts and culture sector, The Rosenbach will better reflect our city in every facet of our organization: a more diverse staff and board, an increase in BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color)-led courses and programs, and physical spaces that are equitable and welcoming. The Rosenbach’s Board of Directors and Staff are currently convening to create goals to diversify the organization’s leadership, and will share these initiatives in September 2020. The Rosenbach will continue to learn, but we make the following commitments to our community today.

1. Continue learning: The Rosenbach’s staff and Board of Directors will receive Diversity, Equity, Accessibility, and Inclusion (DEAI) orientation and training within the next six months. This will be refreshed annually thereafter. The Rosenbach has formed a DEAI (Diversity, Equity, Accessibility, and Inclusion) Committee with members from the staff, guide corps, and volunteers led by Bethany Chisholm, The Rosenbach’s representative on the Free Library of Philadelphia’s DEAI Steering Committee.

2. Create equitable opportunities: We will be intentional about our hiring practices to increase diversity amongst our staff. Since the majority of the current staff is white, we will connect with BIPOC professional and alumni groups to widen our candidate pool, and share future job or internship posts beyond traditional nonprofit online employment boards or our personal/professional networks.

3. Increase the diversity of our leadership: The Board of Directors will identify meaningful and measurable steps to prioritize diversity, equity, accessibility, and inclusion by September 30, 2020. More specific goals to follow.

4. Increase accountability: We will amend our existing strategic plan with specific due dates and measurables in areas of DEAI initiatives. The DEAI Committee will create institution evaluations for the six month and year mark from today, July 1, 2020.

5. Amplify Black history, literature, and culture beyond this moment: In response to our commitment to the Black Lives Matter movement, we will showcase Black narratives in a major new exhibition on the life and work of Alice Dunbar-Nelson in fall 2020, “I Am An American!”, which will include courses, discussions, and a conference with our partner University of Delaware. In addition, at least five new virtual offerings on varied topics amplifying Black lives will be debuted over the next six months.

6. Continue to pursue public input in the development of Rosenbach programs: Community input gathering is currently underway with the development of the Alice Dunbar-Nelson exhibition, “I Am An American!”, and we will explore how to create a larger-scale mechanism to gather feedback and invite conversation with the Philadelphia community.

7. Change our physical spaces to better reflect our community: We will feature the BIPOC writers and artists in our collections in our public spaces. We will also create a Statement of Institutional Values reflecting our commitment to equity and change in a highly-visible area of our front lobby and on our website.

8. Examine our list of vendors: We will consciously partner with companies founded or led by BIPOC, commit to employing, or who consistently fund BIPOC causes.

9. Concentrate funding efforts: We will proactively research and apply for funding opportunities that allow The Rosenbach to diversify our collection and provide BIPOC-led and created programming.

10. Increase BIPOC audience engagement: We will increase our engagement scope to reach BIPOC audiences by partnering with BIPOC-owned or led publications and nonprofits to share our programs, events, and opportunities. To be successful in this endeavor, it is imperative that we commit to all of the items listed above.


Updated: June 8, 2020

The Rosenbach staff and Board of Directors were grateful for the opportunity to pause, listen, and learn last week as we pressed pause on our usual programming. We, as an institution, acknowledge that we are privileged to have this time, while so many in our Philadelphia community are not given a choice but to experience racism and systemic oppression every day.

As a member of Philadelphia’s arts and culture sector, we must better reflect our city in every facet of our organization: a more diverse staff and board, an increase in BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color)-led courses and programs, and physical spaces that are equitable and welcoming. The Rosenbach will continue to learn, and we are committed to intention-driven change within our organization.

For the rest of the month of June, our staff member and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEAI) representative Bethany Chisholm will work with our community of stakeholders to create a list of our DEI commitments by July 1, the first day of our new fiscal year. Please contact her at [email protected] with any questions or suggestions for a more diverse and equitable Rosenbach.


Pressing Pause from June 1 to June 7, 2020

Many cultural institutions originate in white and Eurocentric narratives and as such have a long history of being exclusionary spaces. We are not exempt. How we reckon with that fact is critical to how we move forward, as an institution and as individuals.

From June 1 to June 7, we are pressing pause on our usual programming. Instead, we’ll be intentionally using our platforms in the coming days to amplify Black voices.

While we take a step back from our day-to-day, we are using this time to have honest conversations as an organization and reflect critically on the road ahead. We are here to put in the work.

We extend gratitude to Alishia McCullough and Jessica Wilson, the creators of the #AmplifyMelanatedVoices campaign, and countless other leaders.