Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion (DEI)

Since its founding as a settlement house for immigrants in 1881, NBSS has trained individuals of all backgrounds and across gender, age, race, ethnicity, religion, political class, and citizenship status.

Our evolution as a School asks us to work toward economic, racial, and social justice in our communities. What we learn from our own history informs how NBSS can improve the ways we welcome, support, and celebrate diversities across race, ethnicity, gender, gender-identity, sexual orientation, socio-economics, and ability. As a craft and trade school, we believe that teaching people meaningful and useful skills empowers them with their own agency. This work transcends discipline and gets to the heart of our educational philosophy. We are actively engaged in making an impact—at all levels of our School, in ways large and small, and with the optimism and conviction that are the hallmarks of our community.

In keeping with North Bennet Street School’s mission and history and as leaders and stewards in craft and trade education, NBSS dedicates itself to fostering diversity, equity, and inclusivity throughout our school, community, and in the fields we serve. To engage the whole person, we must support the whole person. 

We are committed to continuously cultivating and maintaining a welcoming and inclusive community where individual differences are expected, supported, respected, and valued. We embrace our obligation to improve our institution’s culture, strengthen our partnerships, and positively impact the future of the industries for which we train. 

This work is necessary for the School to advance trade and craft traditions and contribute to the change we hope to see in our communities. Therefore, it is our responsibility to eliminate barriers to access and inclusion, and to expand opportunities to pursue a livelihood free from disrespectful behavior, harassment, and discrimination. We recognize that structural social barriers are a part of all organizations, and only through work by everyone, will greater change be made.

The School has established the following initiatives and programs that positively impact diversity, equity, and inclusion at NBSS. Together, these initiatives are focused on our work to increase and support diversities of race, ethnicity, gender, gender-identity, sexual orientation, and socio-economics, with attention to ability-diversity and neuro-diversity.

  • Teaching Assistant (TA) Program: The TA program acts as an on-ramp to train and attract future faculty, while also providing critical support in our career training programs. TA’s have a range of experience and diverse backgrounds that they bring to their roles. As a result, this program will help increase representation in mentorship at NBSS, and also diversify the fields in which we train our students.
  • Madison Park Summer Program: Madison Park Technical Vocational High School students expand upon their school-year knowledge of carpentry and locksmithing in a summer program launched in 2016. As they gain real-world job experience, students add to their portfolios, learn teamwork, and communication skills. Each of these contribute to academic, personal, and professional growth.
  • Workforce Development Initiative Scholarships: This specialized funding provides need-based, full tuition and tool funding for qualified applicants with high economic need who are residents of the City of Boston, Greater Boston, or who are graduates of Boston Public Schools. This Scholarship is available for all Full-Time programs and is intended to increase access for people who face high economic barriers. 
  • Impact Scholarships: These recently established scholarships provide need-based funding for qualified applicants who are from a range of diverse backgrounds, and who will further NBSS’s work to increase diverse representation in our fields of craft or trade.
  • In the Making (ITM): This series of inspiring conversations helps the School connect with a range of new voices, fields, and perspectives in a broad range of craft- and trade-based fields, including those who are unrepresented and under-represented. To date, the public program has hosted nearly 50 artists, tradespeople, curators, community leaders, chefs, scholars, and others. ITM is made possible through generous support from the Massachusetts Cultural Council and our Partners in Craft.
  • Student Wellness: We offer our students a range of services that address their unique needs for overall health and wellness. Some of these include free mental health support through virtual counseling with North End Waterfront Health. We also encourage students to coordinate Affinity Groups, which help foster community, cultivate a sense of belonging, and facilitate greater student interaction outside of their programs. Recent groups include LGBTQ+ Club, Veterans Association, Black & Brown Creatives, and a meditation gathering. Last, in order to address food insecurity, we provide a food pantry in a private setting at the School. In addition, we host a free lunch break each month, with sandwiches catered by Future Chefs, a youth culinary program in Dorchester.
  • Hiring Practices: NBSS continues to evolve how we search for new staff and faculty members through inclusive search practices in order to increase the opportunity to connect to diverse candidates.
  • Partnerships Across Our Community: A broad variety of partnerships helps further our impact, build relationships with new and existing communities, and support the important work of organizations that serve diverse communities. Including nonprofits, schools, programs, civic groups, training programs and others, just a few of our 50+ organizational partners are listed below.
    • Home Base
    • JAS Youth Build
    • JobNet Career Center Boston
    • MissionSAFE (formerly Dorchester Youth Collaborative)
    • More Than Words
    • National Parks Service Youth Programs
    • NextGen Talent
    • North End Waterfront Health
    • Outvets
    • Private Industry Council
    • Project REACH
    • Sociedad Latina
    • United Teen Equality Center (UTEC)
    • Veterans Administration
    • We Wield The Hammer
    • Youth Build Boston

  • NBSS leadership conducted a self-assessment that asked questions such as “Why do we want to work on DEI?” “What are our goals?” and ”What is our readiness for this work?” 
  • The School’s Faculty, Staff and Board affirmed its commitment to DEI, and dedicated resources to this work.
  • After a nationwide search, Gwen Cochran Hadden was hired as a consultant to direct and support DEI efforts at NBSS. Gwen brings over 25 years experience of working with national and international organizations to the role. Her primary areas of expertise are diversity, inclusion, and organizational change, with focus in cultural and arts management. Gwen’s focus for NBSS is both internal community work, and work that will position the School as an agent for change in Greater Boston. 
  • The School established a DEI Committee of staff and faculty members to act as liaison between faculty and staff, and work to coordinate DEI efforts within the School. A Board DEI Committee was also established, consisting of members of the NBSS Boards of Advisors and Directors.
  • The DEI Working Groups finalized the School’s DEI Vision Statement (see above) and a DEI Rubric to guide the development of the School’s new Strategic Plan.
  • Regular, ongoing Bimonthly Discussion groups bring together alumni, faculty, staff, Directors and Advisors for facilitated learning and discussion sessions. 
  • The School hosts regular, ongoing DEI discussions and facilitated learning sessions at monthly faculty and staff meetings, which prompt personnel to reflect on their goals for DEI in their respective areas, departments, and teams.
  • Student Affinity Groups were restarted, and the School expanded wellness resources for students, including free, virtual mental health counseling and a food pantry (see above).
  • The School has implemented and/or continued a number of other Impact Initiatives that will help further its DEI goals (see above).