Progress Report: How We’ve Centered Justice, Equity, Inclusion, and Diversity this Year | Cal Parks
Published: July 17, 2023

In July 2022, California State Parks Foundation launched public commitments to Justice, Equity, Inclusion and Diversity (JEID), and pledged to report on our progress towards fulfilling those commitments. Over the last fiscal year, we have worked to continue to learn, listen, grow, implement, and stay true to our JEID commitments. Here are our results.  

Activities: 2023 Fiscal Year  

Commitment 1:

We commit to fostering an organizational culture that celebrates learning and growth, leans into difficult conversations and feedback, values connection to each other, and sustains staff and board members’ well-being and sense of belonging

In fiscal year 2023, we accomplished the following: 

  • Reviewed and updated all internal policies to ensure alignment with JEID principles 

  • Created a salary benchmarking process to increase transparency and objectivity in compensation policies 

  • Implemented a new professional development benefit by granting full organization access to all LinkedIn Learning content 

  • Updated benefits to add stipends for home office setup and cellphone/internet use, wellness benefit to cover cost of annual state parks pass or cash that can be used towards gym membership, fitness equipment, or other wellness tools

  • Created employee service awards with appreciation and bonuses for key years of service anniversaries 

  • Updated performance review process to incorporate peer feedback and opportunity for staff to provide feedback to managers and senior leaders 

  • Created semiannual culture survey to monitor health of organization culture and give all employees an opportunity to anonymously share ideas and feedback  

  • Launched staff-led JEID committee as a safe space for employee learning and conversation. JEID co-leads meet with Executive Director monthly to provide feedback and input on JEID plan implementation 

  • Monthly all-staff learning discussion on JEID-related topics like race, gender, and gender identity, and code-switching 

  • The Board of Trustees created a JEID committee, which advises Board leadership on updating Board practices and policies to improve belonging and inclusiveness, and leads JEID related discussions at every board meeting. Past discussions have included “Was John Muir a racist?,” discussion of code-switching, and exploring gender identity

Commitment 2:

We commit to centering and amplifying the needs, values, and voices of marginalized people, specifically Tribal Nations and Indigenous peoples, people of color, people with disabilities, and LGBTQ+ people in our advocacy work and in our programming

In fiscal year 2023, we accomplished the following:

  • Built volunteer core competencies around JEID by crafting statement on expectations for all volunteers at workdays   

  • Supported Volunteer Core Leaders with training on creating inclusive volunteer programs and mitigating bias in volunteer interactions with park visitors and other members of the public   

  • Created volunteer accountability mechanisms with more focused JEID lens 

  • Developed systems to collect and report on demographics through surveys for all primary audiences 

  • Continued to prioritize JEID in volunteer recruitment for California State Parks Foundation’s volunteer program by building authentic relationships with churches, temples, affinity groups, and community groups to invite and provide capacity to participate

  • Funded projects and programs that align with our JEID values, including work being led by communities who are underrepresented in state parks  

  • A sampling: 

    • Firestarters - “The Past, Present, and Future of Fire.” This art exhibit will educate California communities about wildfire resilience from the perspective of tribal sovereignty, and will include an intergenerational interpretive program and a series of events that will challenge the way colonial violence impacts land stewardship

    • Nature Nexus Institute – “Community Based Restoration for Wildfire Resiliency.” Nature Nexus Institute’s Program Leaders serve as bilingual recruiters, educators, and environmental professionals, providing interested community members with a real-world perspective on the importance of nature conservation. The native habitat approach will create permanent, functioning habitat that creates sustainable green open space in the heart of urbanized Los Angeles

    • Anahuak Youth Sports Association - “Playing for Brownfields to Parks.” This project engaged Anahuak youth and families with Spanish language focused education through Saturday morning platicas (discussions) introducing them to brownfields, as well as host Anahuak’s 2022 youth tournament. By hosting the soccer tournament, Anahuak was able to meet the community where they are, doing something that they value for their children, families, and community. The tournament became a space for organizing and communicating about climate resiliency to non-English speaking park goers

    • Test Plot + San Bruno Mountain Watch - ”Life on the Edge: Cultivating a Test Plot at San Bruno Mountain.” Test Plot and San Bruno Mountain Watch have hosted a series of engaging workshops, with food and childcare, to co-design all aspects of the project from the bottom up. They continue to work together with community members and park staff to catalog informal entry points and habitat types, evaluate the safety, access, and infrastructure, and finalize the Test Plot location(s), programs, and plant selection.

  • Presented at the CALPA Conference to educate partners about our trust-based grantmaking program, Theory of Change, and JEID commitments in October 2022 

  • Created an inclusive language guide, to guide entire organization to a deeper understanding of the positive and negative impacts of language in our writing and speech. The guide will be reviewed and updated bi-annually 

  • Implemented alt text on all images on our website and emails 

  • Updated our commenting policy on social media to ensure it is a space where all Californians are accepted 

  • In the process of updating our website and email commenting policy to ensure they are a space where all Californians are accepted and staff is protected 

  • Hosted 3 Quails and Trails events for donors 21-40 years old to engage with California state parks and learn more about the work we do 

  • Supported AB 1284 (Ramos) and AB 1041 (Ramos), two bills that expand rights and protections to California’s Indigenous peoples


Commitment 3:

We commit to building trust-based partnerships, especially with Tribal Nations and Indigenous peoples, people of color, people with disabilities, and LGBTQ+ people and accountability-based partnerships with funders and agency partners

In fiscal year 2023, we accomplished the following:

  • Continued to build relationships with organizations like Disabled Hikers to partner and amplify their work  

  • Hosted two "Pride in our Parks” volunteer workdays in June 2023 to celebrate and provide affinity space for LGBTQ+ communities and allies at Candlestick Point State Recreation Area and Fort Ord Dunes State Park 

  • Re-evaluated the organization’s use of land acknowledgments to ensure we avoid performative and empty gestures of solidarity.  We should refrain from these acknowledgements unless we have received formal permission and are engaged in an authentic relationship with the tribe whose lands we are acknowledging

    • Following California State Parks’ lead as part of the Re-examining our Past Initiative on efforts to develop meaningful agreements with tribal governments. This is a very difficult and sensitive issue, and until California State Parks finalizes its own plan for acknowledging tribes’ ancestral lands and potential claims on public lands by indigenous groups, we do not want to get out ahead


As we start our next fiscal year, California State Parks Foundation will continue to learn, listen, and work to become a better organization and we would like you to continue this journey with us. At the end of each fiscal year, we will provide updates on the progress we have made.  

We welcome honest and critical feedback throughout this process and hope our parks community will join us in this journey for a more resilient, inclusive, and connected California state parks space. Please email with any feedback or questions you may have.  

Please follow us on social media at California State Parks Foundation on Facebook, and @calparks on Instagram and Twitter, or subscribe to our email list for updates around our JEID work.