Inclusive Coasts Initiative Survey Results are In

By Briana Yancy

After announcing the Inclusive Coasts Initiative (ICI), a program to improve diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice (DEIJ) in grantmaking, project design and implementation in the coastal sector. Restore America’s Estuaries issued a survey to gather information about challenges, success and hopes for improving access to coastal grants.  

A special thank you to the roughly 25 respondents of the survey. While the survey is “non scientific,” it does have valuable insights that we believe is worth sharing so that other organizations endeavoring to address DEIJ can learn from others and will help us build out future workshops and conversations.  

Findings at a Glance 

The survey included questions about challenges and successes when trying to apply DEIJ strategies to grants. In addition, the respondents also let us know what their hopes were for the Inclusive Coast Initiative. 

  • Making outreach materials available in different languages 
  • Stuck in traditions  
  • Federal and State regulations and box  
  • Lack of funding for DEIJ efforts  
  • Creating and maintaining relationships  
  • Slow Process/Lack of Momentum  
  • Where to Start  
  • Administrative barriers 
  • Not knowing best DEIJ Terminology
  • Collecting metrics on DEIJ through our grantee reporting, More credit to grant applications that demonstrate a commitment to DEIJ.  
  • More interest in this work from all levels  
  • More Grant funding support (for DEIJ initiatives as well as underrepresented groups and individuals). 
  • Overall growing awareness of and emphasis on DEIJ  
  • Relationship Building progress 
  • Relationship building  
  • New ways to seeing and doing things in the grant world while addressing concerns about transparency and fiscal responsibility.  
  • How to assess equity impacts of grant-making decisions and grant criteria  
  • How to assess equity-related grantee performance. 
  • Public health equity into restoration planning 
  • Collaboration  
  • Amplifying voices of underrepresented  
  • Real change and action  
  • Sharing successes and best practices  
  • Sharing other similar programs and initiatives 

What are some of the major challenges or barriers you have seen in your work?  

The most common challenges included not having enough capacity or funding for this work, a lack of organizational understanding of DEIJ, and not having the right partners or resources.  

What are some of the recent areas of progress over the past 18 months? 

We found that over half the respondents have noticed that DEIJ is now more a priority and an overall increase in understanding of DEIJ and how it relates to conservation work.  

Why is making grants more equitable and inclusive important to you, or what are your hopes for the future of equitable grants? 

Some quotes from survey respondents: 

  • It’s vital to addressing all three existential crises we are currently facing: equity, climate, and biodiversity.

  • It is important to me because there are many community-led groups there who do not have access to the money that is required to accomplish their missions. If grant-making is more equitable and consistent, then I think it would make a big difference in speeding up the progress of climate action initiatives. The groups I am thinking of are already on the ground and doing a lot of work and increased financial capacity would support not just their work but the economies in which they live.

  • We have not done a great job in the past, AND our coastal area has such a rich Tribal history that we have mostly ignored. We need to acknowledge and incorporate this history in our future work. 

  • Equity and inclusion are needed across the board, but particularly for grant-making to fund groups and individuals that are actually representative of many coastal communities.

Restore America’s Estuaries is committed to ensuring these workshops lead to tangible results and are centered around the needs and interests of those attending. We encourage you to let us know if any of these findings resonate with you and to take the survey yourself so we can continue to improve the content of the workshops.  

Registration for The Inclusive Coasts Initiative (ICI) is now open and the first workshops are scheduled for February 24th at 12 PM and 6 PM EST. Please join us if you are interested in learning more about how to improve diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice (DEIJ) in grantmaking, project design, and implementation in the coastal sector. 

Briana Yancy is the Inclusive Coasts Initiative Fellow for Restore America’s Estuaries. Her work is focused on increasing participation in coastal conservation.