A Pledge to Do Better

Branson Together

An excerpt from our letter affirming the need to redouble Branson’s efforts to build a Beloved Community

Branson strives to be a Beloved Community: a place where there is interconnectedness between all members, and where we work to create a society based on justice, equal opportunity, and love for all fellow human beings. This desire for a true Beloved Community requires us to acknowledge that Branson is part of a privileged educational system that is exclusionary by nature, and that has adversely impacted some members of our community who come from marginalized communities. Of historical note is the fact that when Branson was founded 100 years ago, Black and Jewish young women were specifically excluded from applying. Thus, we cannot deny that there has been racism in the very foundation of our school. We offer our deepest apologies to those who have been harmed by their time at Branson. This letter is our pledge that we will do better, and will actively do our part to dismantle systemic racism and social injustice at Branson and more broadly in our community.

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) is one of the four pillars of our strategic plan, and while we have been diligently working for several years to improve our efforts in these areas, the events of this year have provided us with an urgency and a renewed sense of purpose to the importance of the anti-racist work we must undertake. What is clear to us is that there is much to do, more to say, and more voices to be heard. We intend to create a path forward that will lead to an equitable and affirming community for our students, families, alumni, and employees of color—and all who identify with groups that are marginalized and discriminated against in our country. We feel the weight and the burden that we have unduly placed on our community members who come from historically marginalized communities. We further recognize that it is our responsibility as leaders to both listen and to act. As such, we firmly and sincerely commit to doing better.

While Branson’s DEI office is assisting in developing this plan, the responsibility lies with all of us. We, as the leaders at Branson, assume this responsibility with gravity and commitment and sincerely hope you will join us in this important work. We have identified several areas for immediate action, which include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Curriculum: Audit our content and teaching practices to ensure that they are grounded in DEI principles.
  • Employees: Identify and complete a rigorous program of anti-racist and anti-bias training.
  • Students: Ensure appropriate affinity spaces and offer anti-racist programming and training.
  • Families: Provide affinity spaces as well as professional development opportunities in anti-bias training.
  • Alumni: Provide affinity spaces, listening sessions, and advocacy.
  • Financial: Provide additional support where needed and when possible.

Sincerely,

Chris Mazzola, Head of School
Branson Administrative Team
Claudia Lewis, Board Chair
Ben Bodipo-Memba ’87, Board of Trustee DEI Committee
Julie Carlucci, Board of Trustee DEI Committee
JuanCarlos Arauz, Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Branson’s Diversity Mission Statement

Branson believes that diversity, equity, and inclusion are essential to create a truly excellent learning environment and a vibrant, caring community. We aspire to have every member of the Branson community feel a deep sense of belonging and inclusion.