Recent tragic events have again called our attention to fundamental and persistent injustices in our country. We stand in solidarity with those who feel anger, deep sadness, and a host of other strong emotions over the ongoing lack of humanity toward Black lives. We stand strongly against police brutality and discrimination in any form against individuals, their families, and their communities, as well as any tolerance of such behavior.
Our goal at Age of Learning has always been to make education an accessible reality for ALL children across the world, regardless of their ethnicity, social status, economic status, or any other classification. Education is a basic right. And we are making great strides in this important endeavor. A significant portion of the 30 million children we have reached have been through our philanthropic initiatives, serving disadvantaged children in schools, public libraries, public housing authorities, including in other countries. We are doubling down on these initiatives to more rapidly expand them.
In light of recent events, however, we are humbled by the fact that education, as powerful as it is, is not enough, because children of color will come of age in a society that is stacked against them, where they will be at risk from longstanding oppression and bigotry based on the color of their skin. Education alone will not solve this. It’s an unbearable situation.
We as individuals, as a company, and as a society must do more. This is a moment of reckoning. A call to action. A realization of responsibility that WE, each and every one of us, HAVE TO BE THE CHANGE. We are greatly encouraged by the response of people, businesses, and other organizations in America and around the world in sounding the call and making a commitment to change. Like others who are rising in protest, we do not condone senseless violence, and our voice joins those who are speaking out for change, for human rights, and for real equality.
Our content has been deliberately designed to illuminate for children the power of diversity and the value of kindness and tolerance toward all. But we recognized that we needed to look for new ways to advance kindness, tolerance, and the absence of bias, and give children every opportunity to succeed and lead happy, productive lives—confident in their own self-worth and without concern for their own safety or treatment due to the color of their skin, where they were born, or what neighborhood they grew up in.
Age of Learning came together to determine how we as a company can contribute most directly and effectively toward the change that is needed. We have developed an initial set of several actions across our Curriculum, Product, Human Resources, Communications, and Corporate Affairs functions that we will be taking to advance diversity, equity, kindness, and inclusion, and to affirmatively combat bias. This list is by no means all that we will be doing—only the steps we have prioritized as coming first. Here are a few of those initial actions . . .
- Establishing a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Task Force to recommend enhancements to Age of Learning curriculum and products to advance DEI and social emotional learning, and to add anti-bias / anti-discrimination curriculum.
- Appointing Professor Cynthia Tyson to the Age of Learning Curriculum Board. Dr. Tyson, a Professor in the Department of Teaching and Learning at The Ohio State University and a nationally recognized expert in teaching about social justice, multiculturalism, and race, has been working with our curriculum team since mid-last year. We are very pleased to announce that Dr. Tyson has officially joined our Curriculum
- Launching an initiative to review and enhance our company’s policies and practices to advance DEI and increase companywide diversity, including of our management team. We are also expanding our training programs to better ensure an equitable and inclusive work environment and combat explicit and implicit bias.
- Honoring Juneteenth, the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States, as an official Age of Learning holiday.
- We will prioritize creating and sharing more resources like the booklist we released last week to help parents discuss issues of race, diversity, and equity with their children.
- We are organizing regular staff volunteer events serving communities of color and will provide every individual employee company work time for volunteer activities.
- We are launching a donation matching program for employees’ contributions to charitable organizations advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion.
Now is the time, and we are leaning in to this work.
Humbly and respectfully,
Doug Dohring & Paul Candland