Vermont Public Radio has launched the Diverse Voices Initiative, a comprehensive approach to enhance diversity, equity and inclusion efforts both internally and in delivering greater public service to audiences everywhere.
The initiative, which has been in planning for over a year, has four primary components:
- VPR has established a news fellowship for new or early-career journalists with life experience or other knowledge that will contribute to a broader understanding of the diverse communities VPR serves. This position is currently open and VPR is accepting applications.
- The Initiative will provide freelance funding to hand the microphone to diverse storytellers and open VPR’s airwaves and digital platforms to their work.
- In early 2021, VPR will create new internship opportunities for individuals whose life experiences, fluency in more than one language, or extensive knowledge about an underrepresented community will help diversify VPR’s knowledge and coverage.
- VPR is partnering with Vermont Partnership for Fairness and Diversity in order to audit, create and help implement an improvement plan for its recruitment and hiring practices, as well as existing internal culture around diversity, equity and inclusion.
“We believe these efforts will help VPR live up to the true promise of public media,” said Scott Finn, VPR president & CEO. “We must do more than check off a proverbial box. We must think critically, humbly, and improve our inclusiveness of BIPOC individuals as well as all forms of diversity.”
The Diverse Voices Initiative is part of an organizational focus on diversity, equity and inclusion that also includes a review of news and music content to determine how effectively we reflect Vermont’s community, and where improvements are needed. That work has already begun with the recent additions of 1A, Latino USA, Alt.Latino and Fiesta to VPR's schedule. Safe & Sound, VPR's celebration of local music, has explored the music and experiences of BIPOC Vermonters in its Vermont Voices For Change series.
“We are eager to undertake this work internally and hold ourselves accountable to our community,” said Sarah Ashworth, VPR’s vice president of news. “As a statewide media outlet, we recognize we have a powerful platform and it must be as open and inclusive as possible. Only then can we be effective journalists who bear witness, present facts, deepen understanding, amplify suppressed voices and hold power to account.”
VPR has raised nearly $65,000 of the necessary $80,000 to fund the first year of this initiative. The fundraising effort was sparked by VPR’s board of directors with 100% participation in support of the initiative. Additional gifts were made by former board members, staff and VPR supporters.
“The Diverse Voices Initiative will provide the resources to immediately put our plans and aspirations into action,” said Finn.
Those interested in making a gift to support this effort may contact VPR’s Brendan Kinney at 802-654-4389 for more information.