Mid-Season Report Card: Return on Inclusion

KENT- The Kent State Athletics Department is at the midway point in its year-long implementation of Return on Inclusion (ROI), an interactive diversity and inclusion program and resource for all coaches and staff.

"Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEIB) aren't just words in our department, they are road maps to bringing about top tier talent to serve our dynamic student-athletes, coaches, and staff," Randale L. Richmond, Director of Athletics said,  "Led by Frank Porter, Director of Athletics Diversity Outreach and Professional Impact, the ROI modules are increasing our awareness and the sessions are strengthening our community as we learn alongside each other with the goal of becoming more educated on a wide range of DEIB topics."

The department goal is to help strengthen our coaches' and staff's competencies to provide the necessary support for our student-athletes.  The department has completed three of the six modules which include: Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging Foundations; Cultural Competence and Managing Relationships and Overcoming Bias & Decoding Microaggressions.

"Return on Inclusion is the vehicle that has taken our department on an amazing journey to reflect on ourselves and other cultures, recognize different life experiences, and provide practical tools to disrupt biases and engage inclusivity intentionally and more deeply," Porter added.   

Each month, coaches and staff complete the online portion at their own pace, followed by facilitator led in person small group sessions to discuss the materials that were presented. The modules have been very inciteful and have challenged our department to look at experiences from a different lens.  Coaches and staff are engaging in dialogue on a variety of topics that encourage individual reflection and push us to collective action.

Staff Reflections:

Kyle DeSandes-Moyer- Head Coach Field Hockey

ROI so far has been a unique experience, and for the first time has allowed me to open up and connect with coworkers in authentic ways in the workplace.  I have truly enjoyed having meaningful conversations with colleagues and gaining appreciation for so many different people within athletics, some I had never met before.

Alisha Ellis, Assistant Director, Academic Services

"As a new employee to Athletics, the ROI modules thus far have helped me recognize ways I can better implement and support DEIB with our student-athletes. I've been able to identify some of my own biases and at the same time share and make more meaningful connections with athletic staff that I typically don't have the chance to connect with. As we continue with the modules, I'm hopeful the conversations that will be had will make myself and us stronger as a staff which will only benefit our student-athletes."

David Rush- Associate Athletic Director Facilities & Operations

Starting this process as a cohort leader was intimidating. I thought I had to have all the right answers to share with the group like a test. Going through the ROI Modules allowed me to see the importance of open conversations and seeing all the different sides and angles of the coin. The training showed me it's not a melting pot but rather a fruit salad where we enjoy all the unique flavors. 

Calvin Toney-Cox, McLendon Leadership Fellow-Marketing and External Relations

My experience of ROI this far has been nothing short of amazing. The ROI modules are not only informative but really make you think critically about diversity and inclusion. I feel great knowing that Kent State university is challenging their employees to open their minds and see diversity in a different lens.

The department goal is to complete the remaining three modules over the next six months.  In addition to ROI, Porter is leading the athletics in other trainings, speakers, and programming to support student-athletes, coaches and staff. Fostering a diverse, equitable and inclusive environment is one of the eight pillars of Kent State's Play As One strategic plan. For more information on Play As One, click here.

About Return on Inclusion

Return On Inclusion™ (ROI) is a sport-specific diversity and inclusion education platform dedicated to developing inclusive leaders and fostering a culture of belonging across social and cultural differences. Our self-paced modules standardize learning methods, deepening our commitment to helping every coach and athletic administrator develop the skills and competencies necessary to support student-athletes and achieve inclusive excellence in programs, policies, and practices.