Diversifying the FOI Community
The National Freedom of Information Coalition is proactively working to integrate new voices into the government transparency world, recognizing that information is critical to empowering marginalized groups, and that new perspectives are essential to healthy civic engagement and democracy. NFOIC supports building the next generation of open government and First Amendment advocates through this new collaboration advancing Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI). We are taking a three-pronged approach to introduce a broader audience to the FOI community that helps ensure diversity and inclusiveness –as a democracy should be.
The FOI community — a sector dominated by an aging, historically white male presence — leaves enormous gaps in ideas, priorities, and voices that should be heard. Information is power, and that power should be distributed among all Americans. NFOIC is working with its state coalitions to proactively build more diverse boards, broaden state coalition constituencies and re-frame and market transparency issues highlighting real-world impact. With participation from outside DEI experts to lead in this work, this effort can also support other organizations in the FOI community seeking diversity and transformation.
At the national and state levels, NFOIC is connecting with DEI stakeholder groups —empowering previously un-engaged organizations to effectively access public institutions. NFOIC staff and state coalitions, knowledgeable and experienced in open government laws and FOI practices, will provide training and support with particular consideration to “disenfranchised” news, legal, civic and other organizations that help them access public information, officials, and agencies and create “train the trainer” programs to establish ongoing knowledge and expertise within them.
National collaborations on six FOI policy topics will be structured with diverse stakeholder committees around each topic — issue areas that focus on real-world impact of transparency legislation on everyday lives, avoiding abstract concepts and academic jargon. These academies will be staffed and facilitated by NFOIC. The participants will review, collaborate and recommend legislative and policy reforms to be pursued for adoption by NFOIC, it’s state coalition members and other partners.