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Brooklyn Conservatory of Music Takes on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion to Foster Change in a Dynamic Music Landscape

The Brooklyn Conservatory of Music (BKCM) has been a cultural staple in their Park Slope neighborhood since its founding in 1897 by German-American immigrants. Since then, multiple generations of leaders, musicians, and supporters have fostered growth and stability of this 120+ year historical musical institution and community. Today’s BKCM offers dynamic musical programming through four (4) distinct components: Community Music; Suzuki Program; Musical Therapy; and Music Partners and serves an increasingly diverse population of 8,000 constituents that extends though all five New York boroughs.

In 2018, BKCM embarked on a multi-year strategic planning process to strengthen its operating infrastructure, core programming, and organizational capacity to serve the community with greater impact. The four Strategic Goals included: 1.) Emphasize excellence and quality at every level of our operation; 2.) Strengthen our commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI); 3.) Invest in our people; and 4.) Deepen and broaden our program offerings within each of the four divisions. According to BKCM leadership, one of the most challenging of these goals was navigating the DEI-related goal for which the organization had very limited experience.

In 2021, BKCM engaged YRM Consulting Group to provide consulting and training to address Goal #2: Strengthen our commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion. YRM’s role was to provide guidance in processing and operationalizing a DEI initiative for BKCM. In collaboration with the BKCM leadership team, YRM constructed a process roadmap through which to work in conjunction with the four established music programs. The process included creating a Steering Committee to provide general oversight of the DEI initiative, establishing four program Pillar Groups representing each musical program component, and creating a scope-of-work for each Pillar Group relevant to their unique programmatic goals and objectives.

Through YRM group facilitation, guidance, and support with learning and navigating the nuances of DEI implementation, BKCM Pillar Groups were able to better explore and understand their programming through a DEI lens. The work sessions led by YRM provided a forum which strengthened BKCM’s capacity to develop informed program decisions aligned with marketing, promotion, and recruitment strategies designed to increase access to broader diverse communities, including low-income communities, and increase participation diversity in BKCM programs. The results included documented implementation plans with associated DEI integration targets, strategies, and timelines over the course of the strategic plan rollout.

The Council of New Jersey Grantmakers Opens Opportunity for its 130-Member Cohort to Participate in Strategic Planning

The Council of New Jersey Grantmakers (CNJG) is the single largest philanthropic community conglomerate in the State of New Jersey, representing 130 member organizations including an extensive roster of private foundations, corporate giving programs, government funders, and individual philanthropists, among other giving organizations. CNJG provides a central entity for this state-wide community to come together for collective learning, advocacy and policy development, and planning across the philanthropic landscape both within and outside of the state. One of CNJG’s roles is to facilitate discussion around some of the most pressing community issues including disaster relief, COVID response, economic development, and social justice.

In 2021, CNJG engaged YRM Consulting Group to lead their current 3-year strategic planning process (2023-2025) in collaboration with CNJG-appointed Strategic Planning Committee Co-Chairs. Through this joint effort, YRM’s role was to lead in the development of the overall strategic planning framework and associated processes, including initial landscape analysis to inform a global perspective in philanthropy, establishing primary focus areas for research inquiry, and data collection methodologies and analysis. Within this implementation framework, YRM developed specific lines of research inquiry, recruited and secured stakeholder participation, applied associated qualitative research methods, facilitated group and individual-level participant activities, and analyzed and reported on findings.

The results of process implementation included the establishment of four (4) major goals; twenty-three (23) Action-Items; and twelve (12) associated milestones to uniquely deliver on the 3-year strategic plan.

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