Kesem’s DEI Actions
and Initiatives

In recent years, we’ve made significant changes to staff offerings, the volunteer experience, Camp Kesem, and our year-round services to fulfill our commitment to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. These changes have been guided by our own reflections and thoughtful feedback from members of our community including staff, volunteers, and families. Learn more about some of the activities and initiatives we’ve implemented below.

Kesem Games


We strive to be an organization that recruits and develops talented individuals from diverse backgrounds and experiences, and creates an environment where each team member can be their authentic self and feel safe doing so.

  • With the support of a DEI coach, we’ve improved our recruitment and hiring materials and processes, including broadening the recruitment scope and removing bias from hiring decisions.
  • Kesem has offered staff DEI training through conferences, webinars, consultants, and coaches.  Kesem staff consistently incorporates DEI training and a DEI lens in its resources, operations, goals, programming, and outreach. 
  • We’ve implemented an equitable compensation system based on market data and using objective criteria. Moreover, for increased transparency, we include minimum salary information on all job descriptions.
  • In 2019, we launched a staff-led DEI Steering Committee that examines varied aspects of the organization and proposes solutions to make Kesem a more equitable and inclusive community.


We believe there is power and value in having a volunteer base that mirrors the community it serves. We are committed to reducing bias and expanding our outreach to reach a more diverse student leader and volunteer population.

  • We created and implemented a more inclusive student engagement model to provide opportunities for students to be involved in Kesem beyond camp.
  • In 2018, we updated our volunteer selection process including added rubrics for application screening and interview process to reduce bias. We also added questions on DEI and positioned DEI-related skills (such as being bilingual) as an asset and de-prioritized prior camp experience.
  • In Spring 2019, we opened Kesem student leader membership to any chapter, including community colleges, provided they receive university approval.
  • We developed new resources to guide student leaders with community outreach, recruitment, and public statements and advocacy efforts in alignment with our DEI commitment and values.


We’re evolving our programs to reflect our commitment to equity and inclusion, creating experiences that bring together, empower, and demonstrate empathy and appreciation for all participants.

  • In 2019, we created custom content modules on DEI for all camp staff, including training on inclusive behavior, and visible and invisible disabilities. Additionally, we allowed for flexibility in the training schedule for counselors who may hold jobs.
  • We replaced our 3-strikes rule with stronger behavioral support tools in response to feedback that the prior rule did not provide support for families and could be hurtful to those affected by incarceration.
  • We restructured how camp games were implemented to be more inclusive. For example, one of our legacy activities, Messy Games, used to incorporate food. We recognized that the concept of wasting food could be insensitive to some children and families. We redesigned the game to be played without it.
  • Since 2018, families can request ASL translation at camp and Friends + Family Days events.


We are investing in systems and approaches to remove barriers and provide historically underrepresented groups with greater access to our programs and offerings.

  • Since 2017, our camper application allows applicants to indicate any additional support needed (transportation, supplies, translation, etc), and they will receive a follow-up from their chapter on support.  
  • We have expanded resources for Spanish-speaking families and constituents including having translators available at camp and creating Spanish language materials (e.g., emails, manuals, brochures, etc.).
  • With input from our DEI panel, beginning in 2019, we launched affinity groups for Kesem community members. Learn more and sign up to join here.