Social & Environmental Responsibility
Mission Statement & Recognition
ARCC Programs believes that social responsibility is an essential aspect of our programming and business operations. We strongly believe that cultural immersion, cross-cultural conversations, and reflection on these experiences can increase self-awareness, promote empathy, and foster growth. We recognize that our staff, student, and participant body is not as diverse as we would hope. We also recognize that there are inherent imbalances in access, particularly when it comes to international travel and outdoor experiences. Recognizing the current imbalances and accessibility issues within the world and more specifically within experiential/outdoor education/gap year programs, we are able to move towards a more just and inclusive world.
At ARCC Programs we recognize that all human action impacts our physical environment and the living beings on the planet. Everything on Earth plays a role in supporting life and we believe that it is our responsibility to have a net positive impact with our actions. We strive to balance the impacts of our programming by partnering with communities and organizations with similar goals toward bettering our planet for future generations.
As we continue to work towards this goal, we are prioritizing ethical engagement with host communities and countries by serving as an important source of income, supporting local and family-owned businesses for our activities, lodging, and transportation, and participating in projects that improve the natural environment. We strive to be low-impact as we travel while also providing students and communities with opportunities for meaningful exchange. Rather than investing in the larger carbon offsetting industry, we partner directly with on-the-ground organizations in the field of renewable energy and reforestation.
Listed below are the ways in which we are committed to social and environmental responsibility, as well as diversity, equity, inclusion, and access, in all aspects of our organization.
- We revisit and edit job descriptions regularly to reflect our diversity and inclusivity philosophy, and work to make jobs at ARCC more accessible
- Post our job opportunities on a variety of sites that include more diverse audiences
- All field staff members participate in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion training by an external consulting service
- We offer annual training opportunities for full-time office staff with an external trainer
- Our office staff and leader training include reflections upon our biases and how they might impact work performance
- ARCC Programs offers reimbursement for the Wilderness First Responder certification for leaders/instructors after the successful completion of two contracts with ARCC Programs
- Financial Aid: ARCC has set aside a pool of funds to be used to partially sponsor students who wish to participate in an ARCC program but are unable to cover the costs of the full tuition
- Our Voyagers Scholarship is a scholarship program for BIPOC students to be able to participate in an ARCC program with a significant, if not full, scholarship
- ARCC has a gear lending program so that students and families can reduce the financial burden of their ARCC program
- All ARCC Gap Semesters discuss curriculum with the following six themes: Environment & Conservation, Education & Literacy, Public Health, Indigenous Rights & Histories, the Movement of Peoples, and Social Justice.
- ARCC supports the paradigm shift from “service work” to “project-based learning.” This shift emphasizes the exchange between community members and visitors, using the experience as a learning opportunity for both parties as opposed to focusing on short term service work which can often highlight inherent imbalances, create a sense of superiority, or do more harm than good to a community.
- ARCC has a designated staff member who is a member of the Gap Year Association’s DEIA Committee
- Complete the Gap Year Association’s DEIA Self-Assessment tool annually and use that to inform an action plan to work towards a more diverse and inclusive company
- Offer paid volunteer time for office staff
- Full office team volunteer days within our local community
- We commit to creating an inclusive space where all community members are respected and valued for their unique perspectives
- We value the importance of anti-racism work and are committed to building communities that engage with the fight against institutionalized systems of oppression in their own schools, places of work, and communities
- We commit to hearing about experiences of discrimination (or witnesses of discrimination) on our programs and within the workplace, keeping a detailed report of these issues, including microaggressions, and then addressing the issues accordingly
- We will revise and update these expectations as needed for the community to continue to evolve
- Training and inclusion of staff on our vision, sustainability policies, and organization ethics
- Conveying sustainability concepts to students in a way that is constructive and inspiring
- Advocating for sustainability and ethical travel and incorporating these practices into program curriculum
- Maintaining as much of program spending in host communities as possible
- Facilitation of genuine cultural exchange between students and host communities through homestays and long term partnerships
- Working with program alumni to encourage ongoing communication and assistance to communities visited
- Encouraging students to share their experiences after their return from a program
- Use of locally owned businesses on our programs and those that actively support sustainability
- Increasing awareness of the importance of sustainability among students throughout their experience with us through projects, group discussions, and pre-program materials
- Incorporating activities into our programs that highlight the interconnectedness of our world and the importance of students managing their impacts on the world
- Sharing of our ‘code of ethical travel’ to students in pre-program materials and in on-program discussions to facilitate mutually positive experiences for students and host communities
- Providing constructive feedback to operators with unsustainable practices
- Avoiding in-country flights when possible and using bus and train options
- Encouraging students to eat local foods during programs, reducing wasteful transporting of foodstuffs long distances.
- Requiring students to bring reusable water bottles on their program
- Providing all student groups with 2-3 water purification methods including rechargeable Steri-Pens and Sawyer Filters. During a typical semester this allows us to save over a thousand plastic bottles of water!
- Encouraging students to conserve resources like electricity and water – especially in homestays!
- Requiring reef-safe sunscreen on all programs in Hawaii and encouraging it on all programs with water activities like SCUBA, snorkeling, and surfing
- Encouraging the use of non-biodegradable soaps
- Being intentional about souvenir purchases
- Encouraging students to buy or borrow used gear rather than buy new. ARCC provides access to our in-office gear lending program to support this goal
- Students on our programs collectively contributed in excess of 15,000 volunteer hours per year to projects as diverse as building clean water filters in underserved rural communities in Cambodia to conservation work supporting the threatened Sumatran orangutan
- Support of grassroots organizations within countries we operate in. We regularly donate funds and encourage our students to support a number of grass-roots organizations
- Reducing the use of paper by digitizing as many administration and program materials as possible
- Using recycled paper products when printing is required
- Workplace practices of minimizing the use of water, heat/air conditioning, and light
- Recycling and avoiding single-use plastics in the office by providing reusable dishware