KPCW has been taking a look at diversity in winter sports this week. In part two of this series, we'll learn about two Park City organizations hoping to make a difference.
Diego Zegarra is the Community Impact Director for the Park City Community Foundation and has dedicated much of his professional life towards the advancement of social equity in the Beehive State.
Zegarra said that as social unrest grips the country and protests against racial injustice sweep through Utah, people’s fundamental perceptions about racism in America have also been challenged.
“For a while, our understanding of racism has been fairly narrow," said Zegarra. "We could identify it and point at it whenever an overt act of racism was committed. We were less good at identifying the systemic or institutional racism that exists and translates into worse outcomes for communities of color. Saying ‘I’m not racist’ is too narrow of a focus. The conversation should revolve more around that we live in a system that has systemic racism, it’s within us and it expresses and manifests itself in our institutions, in our programs, and in the way laws are enacted, so on and so forth.”
Zegarra helps oversee the Foundation’s Solomon Fund, which has been in place since 2016 and aims to facilitate access to sports and recreational opportunities for underprivileged children in the local community.
Through a combination of community outreach and providing transportation, scholarships, and gear, the Fund has made significant strides towards minority participation in the various programs offered in Park City. The goal is to mirror the percentage of minority students in the school district, which is about 20%.
Since 2018, the Foundation has also partnered with the Park City Municipal Corporation to tackle the city’s social equity initiative. Affordable housing, cost of living, access to services, political representation, and education are just a few of the issues important to local underrepresented communities.
Park City based U.S. Ski & Snowboard is also thinking of equity in their community. The organization’s President and CEO, Tiger Shaw, announced this week that steps will be taken to refresh hiring practices at the Center of Excellence in order to attract a more diverse pool of candidates for open positions.
U.S. Ski & Snowboard underwent an extensive initiative in 2017 and 2018 to address issues of gender disparity at the organization, a position Shaw believes leaves them well prepared for this challenge.
“We learned through our gender diversity efforts that just because you might have, let’s say, a neutral population of applicants that is not very diverse, you have to proactively speak the diversity component," Shaw said. "Number one, get them to apply, and and then number two, to really dive deep into them as candidates and make sure we find ways to hire them.”
U.S. Ski & Snowboard will also be hosting a virtual town hall for athletes to voice their thoughts and concerns on these issues on June 18 and pledged to work with local non-profits and their member clubs across the country to introduce underrepresented youth to winter sports.
Despite the good sentiment and actions by major players in the community, Zegarra stressed that it is outcomes, and not promises, that should be the real measure of success.
“I think that applying an equity lens to our work really would include looking at the outcomes and asking ourselves, ‘What outcomes are we seeking?’" added Zegarra. "There will be wins along the way, but this is forever kind of work. It takes the full commitment of organizations to address the systems that are in place that have resulted in inequitable outcomes for some communities and full-on address that.”
To learn more about the Solomon Fund or social equity efforts in Park City, visit parkcitycf.org.