As a relatively young organization designed to support the growth and development of young adults, Quaker Voluntary Service has also been growing and developing. Informed by the feedback we solicit from Fellows and others within the QVS community, we’ve formalized some key equity policies to better reflect our own values as a Quaker organization.
For this work, we owe a debt of gratitude to Oskar Castro’s leadership as our Director of Equity & Inclusion, and to others on the QVS staff who have invested in the work. We believe these new policies enhance the benefits for future Fellows, focusing on People of Color (POC) and those with economically marginalized realities.
2018-19 Benefits & Equity Policies
Introduction and Context
We know that the society that we exist in is built on heteronormative white supremacy, privileging the few and creating oppressive institutions that lock out people based on their race, class, sexual and/or gender identities.
As a Quaker organization, QVS seeks to be transparent in naming these systems of oppression and in doing what we can to address them. Our intent is to acknowledge race and class differences and to make QVS a more accessible option for prospective Fellows.
To that end, we have developed several new initiatives to bring this vision to fruition. These initiatives are certainly not comprehensive in supporting the QVS experience for all oppressed identities, but are one way to work towards a more equitable organization. These include the Orientation Travel Fund, Black Hair Fund, End-of-Program Economic Justice Fund, and the Emergency and Needs-Based Discretionary Fund.
Feedback from Fellows has been instrumental in helping to shape our choices and by staying on top of emergent conversations focused on just societies. We will continue to be a learning organization.
1. Orientation Travel Fund
We know that the cost of transportation to orientation may be a barrier for many. Our organization is continuously growing in our class-consciousness and is therefore offering to reimburse Fellows’ travel costs to National Orientation.
2. Black Hair Fund
Recognizing the significant difference in the costs associated with Black hair care and the need for Fellows to be mindful of their workplace appearance, we have created the Black Hair Fund. Additionally, those with the financial means to get themselves to Orientation may opt-out of this reimbursement, so that those resources might go to assist others.
The Black Hair Fund will subsidize the cost of purchasing hair and skin products. Fellows may also access the fund to get hair braided, pressed, natural, or any service that will keep hair and skin healthy during the QVS year.
3. Economic Justice Fund/Transition Fund
Over the years QVS has worked towards making the fellowship year as cost-neutral as possible. Since the 2016-17 program year, we have provided support to those with student loan debt by assisting in loan deferment, helping with loan interest accrued during the program year, and providing an exit-stipend of $500 for all Fellows who completed the program.
In addition to the debt support, QVS has now created the End-of-Program Economic Justice Fund to provide a more comprehensive and equitable support package that:
- Aligns with the year’s current and proposed programming and community discussions that confront wealth privilege, relationships with money, and economic justice work
- Accounts for marginalized folks having less access to assets and wealth and a lesser chance of earning a full/fair salary after QVS.
Starting in 2018-19, there will no longer be a uniform exit stipend. Instead, Fellows will assess their own class, privilege and access to material wealth. Based on this self- assessment, Fellows may request an exit stipend commensurate to their need upon successful completion of the program.
4. Emergency and Needs-Based Discretionary Fund
This fund offers financial support for Fellows who cannot cover an emergency situation with their monthly stipend or via support from family/network. If traveling home during the break is cost prohibitive for a Fellow, this fund may also subsidize the cost of that travel.
We want to thank all of the Fellows, past and present, whose feedback moves us to think clearly about the way we show up as a model to the young adults that we serve. We know that there may be more that we can do to create a justice & equity based environment for the QVS Community and we greatly appreciate your willingness to be a part of our growth experience.
Compelled to contribute to the work of building an equitable world? Pledge your support and help us provide this experience for years to come.