The National Junior College Athletic Association has taken a step in ending racism.
In mid-December, the organization announced a partnership with RISE, a nonprofit that helps empower student-athletes, coaches, staff and fans in destroying racial discrimination, championing social justice and improving race relations. The new partner’s purpose is to “inspire NJCAA leaders in sports to create lasting, positive change on issues of race, diversity, equity and inclusion.”
With its inception in 2015, RISE helps to create a nation brought together through athletics “committed to racial justice and social equity.” The program aims to build skills and develop safe spaces to have “difficult conversations,” and the national nonprofit works with partners from youth leagues to the collegiate level to professional sports, including the NBA, NFL, NHL and NASCAR.
Expanding on these points, RISE works to inspire sports leaders to make positive change when it comes to race and equality. The goal is to equip students, athletes, coaches and administrators with tools to be “culturally competent, effective advocates for racial equity and leaders in addressing racism, prejudice, diversity and inclusion.” The vision: to build a unified nation through sports that is committed to racial equity and social justice.
“At RISE we believe that this is a time we can unify our country though educating and empowering the sports community,” RISE CEO Diahann Billings-Burford said. “We’re excited and proud to partner with the NJCAA, which for almost a century has served an integral role in providing equitable opportunities for student-athletes, coaches and staff, and positively impacted their development both on and off the field. Together we will help eliminate racism and bridge diverse communities.”
NJCAA President and CEO Dr. Christopher Parker said engaging the full spectrum of collegiate athletics programs is important.
“Social justice and equity have always been at the forefront of the NJCAA values and we look forward to connecting our member colleges with the outstanding resources RISE has to offer,” Parker said. “We hope our member colleges will take advantage of the educational and growth opportunities available by becoming involved with RISE, if they have not already.”
NJCAA’s new partner’s logistics include perception surveys, RISE Critical Conversations and Town Halls, online digital courses, and leadership and diversity workshops.
“The Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Council recognizes that educational programming is vital to advance this important work,” NJCAA Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Council Chair Kerri-Ann McTiernan said. “Our partnership with RISE is a significant step in educating and empowering all our members to become advocates for change. Our Council will work hand in hand with RISE to support and engage all levels of our association to actively contribute towards these shared goals.”