The American Littoral Society believes that Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Justice are critical to the protection of the coast and the people who live there. Our work takes place on ancestral Lenni-Lenape Lands, and many of the communities we serve are at the greatest risk from the threats of climate change. We work to be consciously inclusive of their needs. We strive to have our work elevate the efforts of Black, Latino, Indigenous and Native People, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, members of religious minorities, LGBTQ+ people, and people with disabilities in caring for the coast. Much of our work benefits the local ecology and related economies of these communities, often providing direct coastal resiliency benefits. We believe this to be, at least in part, an act of justice.
Equity In Action
The Littoral Society has created an internal staff committee to examine our own organization, culture, and practices. We are members of the Coalition for the Delaware River Watershed (CDRW) and are actively participating in their DEIJ (Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Justice) workgroup to increase our knowledge and use the tools they are developing. We currently use several of the hiring practices recommendations from the CDRW toolkit. Our staff leadership and Board of Trustees President have participated in intensive Anti-racism/Anti-oppression training sponsored by the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation. We are committed to becoming an anti-racist organization and are working toward that, including highlighting DEIJ efforts in our organizational strategic plan.
We create numerous opportunities for the public to participate in our conservation work.
- R-Corps: Through our Restoration Corp Program, we hire 8-10 youth for the summer to support project goals. These youth come directly from the communities we serve and bring a sense of local pride to the work. Many of our R-Corps members identify as Latino, Black, AAPI, and/or LGBTQ+. Supporting the R-Corp program provides young people with valuable jobs skills training and an opportunity for exposure to science and conservation careers that might not otherwise be presented.
- Sea Quest: SeaQuest is our after-school, marine science enrichment program for middle school kids in under-served coastal communities. SeaQuest immerses students in a broad range of marine and environmental science concepts and career choices. The field-based learning forges a relationship between kids and the coast. Reminds them that they live in a special place, and teaches them that the shore is part of their personal heritage and responsibility.
- Veterans Internship Program: The Veteran Internship Program is a paid internship designed and implemented to hire veterans of the US Armed Forces. Interns receive on the job training to assist with horseshoe crab tagging, oyster reef construction, biological reef assessments, beach stewardship, sand movement monitoring, and event support. The Society has been able to provide employment for fourteen veterans that reside in Gloucester, Camden, Cumberland, Cape May, and Atlantic Counties. Positions are part-time as needed and no experience is required.
- SAFE: Swimmable Accessible Fishable Equitable Delaware River, is a program to steer resources towards mitigating systemic water problems in Philadelphia, Camden, Wilmington and Chester. In these cities, overflows from antiquated combined sewer systems push raw sewage directly into the river, as well as flood the streets, parks, and basements of the people who live there, predominantly people who are Black, Latino, and low income. As a result, the river is regularly deemed unsafe for swimming and other forms of recreation. These overflows stop residents from being able to enjoy the same amenities that the river provides upstream and turn minor rain events into major disruptions of people's daily lives. Our SAFE initiative pushes for investment in the region's water resources as well as provides expertise to elevate and support the existing work of community members.