Building with Gratitude: A Glimpse at Sustainability Plans for the INCLUDES Coordination Hub


By Andrea Venezia, INCLUDES Coordination Hub Director, and Seth Klukoff, INCLUDES Coordination Hub Co-Principal Investigator

August 31, 2023, marks the end of the funding cycle that supported NSF’s Eddie Bernice Johnson INCLUDES Coordination Hub from 2018-2023. In this post, we reflect on those five years, on our gratitude to the INCLUDES community, and on plans for sustainability. We have learned a great deal from the INCLUDES National Network over the past five years and hope to maintain your engagement and involvement for years to come.

As we look back on the past five years, we would like to share several important results from these first five years working in community together. The work:

  • Contributed to advancing knowledge related to broadening participation in STEM by developing and expanding the INCLUDES National Network, with a strong commitment to systems change.
  • Provided INCLUDES National Network members with systematic research syntheses, a research repository, capacity building workshops, and both facilitated and community-led affinity groups.
  • Designed an initial system of shared measures geared toward advancing understanding of how diverse approaches to broadening participation can have a greater coordinated impact.
  • Supported capacity building within the INCLUDES National Network to help members more effectively communicate their impact to key influential audiences.
  • Identified key components for a sustainability plan for the INCLUDES National Network—based on information from engaging with diverse groups within the National Network.

In addition, focused communications—such as engaging the members of the INCLUDES National Network via a range of online opportunities and in-person national convenings; pushing out messages to our 1,628 social media followers; and liaising with other federal agencies, industry, and philanthropy—brought visibility to the work of the INCLUDES initiative and encouraged more people and organizations to learn from each other and join forces to advance equity in STEM.

The INCLUDES Coordination Hub learned from the INCLUDES National Network community as well. For instance, from the INCLUDES Alliances’ Community Workshop report, we learned that they wish for NSF and the INCLUDES Coordination Hub to:

  • Extend support of Alliances moving toward systemic change.
  • Tell the story of the broader INCLUDES Alliance community.
  • Create mechanisms for improved collaboration and communication.
  • Define mechanisms for data collection and sharing.
  • Establish a repository of tools, instruments, training, and materials.
  • Provide support and training for scaling, growth, and change within Alliances, including policy advocacy.
  • Collaborate to initiate Phase 3 post-convening planning efforts.

We also received constructive feedback from our Reverse Site Visit that informed our planning, such as:

  • Be more focused on supporting Alliances in their efforts to lead equity-driven systems change efforts;
  • Use Shared Metrics to understand progress toward equity-driven systems change;
  • Apply more equity-driven principles to all aspects of the Hub and its services to the INCLUDES National Network;
  • Provide more spaces for voices and experiences of people marginalized by STEM fields to tell their stories and the story of INCLUDES; and
  • Work strategically with industry, policy stakeholders, and education sectors to spark change both inside and outside of the INCLUDES National Network and support scaling.

Those and many other learnings contributed to our thinking about a sustainability vision for an INCLUDES Coordination Hub 2.0. In order to share our thinking for this vision, we need to provide some context. The INCLUDES Coordination Hub submitted a proposal this year that focuses on leading and supporting INCLUDES National Network members to change policies and practices that hold inequities in place within the STEM ecosystem to broaden participation at scale. This equity-driven systems change imperative drives a new vision and focus on exploration within what we are calling an Incubator. The Hub Team plans for the Incubator to be composed initially of the Alliances, Collaborative Change Consortia, and other largescale INCLUDES projects that focus on systems change.

Within the Incubator, the INCLUDES Coordination Hub proposes to engage in exploration on topics such as:

  • Creating and using equity-driven hiring and retention practices;
  • Catalyzing more equitable access to STEM by removing gatekeeping and sorting mechanisms in STEM;
  • Engaging in equity-driven budgeting practices and resource allocation;
  • Developing and using culturally relevant teaching and learning practices; and
  • Practicing inclusive workplace/learning environment policies and practices.

We propose to use a framework of Liberatory Design within the INCLUDES Coordination Hub to guide our work in leading and supporting the Incubator. Liberatory Design is a framework focused on “interrupting inequities and providing opportunities for those most affected by oppression.” The framework supports clarity of language and coherence in action, and provides a unified approach across all our strategies through regular cycles of inclusive reflection. The INCLUDES Coordination Hub does not propose to require that INCLUDES National Network members use Liberatory Design for their project work, though the Hub will make sure it is an accessible, well-understood framework within the Network.

The INCLUDES Coordination Hub proposes to continue supporting an open access National Network with strategic communications support, and opportunities to learn from each other. The INCLUDES Coordination Hub proposes to share the learnings and research findings from the Incubator; revamp its Shared Measures work, based on feedback from the INCLUDES National Network, to align with the Water of Systems Change model; support evaluators in INCLUDES; and reduce the overall number of indicators with a focus on utility and equity-driven action.

The proposed vision for the INCLUDES Coordination Hub brings with it some shifts in our partnerships. We would like to acknowledge the contributions of the EDC team in building the foundation of—and nurturing—the INCLUDES National Network. With collaboration from INCLUDES Coordination Hub partners, the EDC team led the development and implementation of a network engagement and capacity building strategy that created numerous opportunities for Network members to share ideas and practices, foster deep relationships, and disseminate tangible knowledge. The INCLUDES Coordination Hub would like to publicly recognize and thank the EDC team for their hard work, dedication, and passion for broadening participation and advancing equity. As EDC transitions from the INCLUDES Coordination Hub, we look forward to continuing to benefit from their many enduring contributions to the INCLUDES Coordination Hub, the INCLUDES National Network, and the INCLUDES initiative.

Thank you for your engagement in the INCLUDES National Network. We look forward to an opportunity to continue learning from and with you, to deepening our relationships, and to collectively leading and supporting this national movement to broaden participation in STEM.