DEI toolkit: A roadmap of resources

For more information

Find the DEI toolkit at If you would like to suggest a resource to include in the toolkit, email

Since 2012, the Inclusive Dubuque network has been a gathering point for local residents working to build a Dubuque region where people from diverse backgrounds feel welcome and included in community life.

In facilitating this network, the Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque has helped bridge divides and bring about equitable solutions to critical challenges.

In our role as a resource and knowledge hub, local businesses and nonprofits have reached out for guidance in their efforts to better understand Dubuque’s diverse communities and the issues they face. The same challenges that affect individual communities also affect organizations’ ability to attract and retain workers and effectively cater to an increasingly diverse client base.

In response to these requests, we drew on our experiences to create Dubuque’s first diversity, equity and inclusion — or DEI — toolkit to support local organizations exploring learning opportunities for their staff members.

For organizations starting on this journey, the prospect of building a learning plan about topics outside their areas of expertise can feel overwhelming and lead to a lot of questions: What is the best place to start? What subjects should we cover? Where can we find credible information to share?

We compiled the DEI toolkit because we’ve been there. We started on our DEI learning journey three years ago without a roadmap, and since then, we have taken it one topic at a time. We have learned from experience that the best way to get started is to commit and pick a subject for that first session. The toolkit offers an array of options for discussion topics along with related resources. You can start anywhere and build from there.

Since that first organization reached out to us, others have come with similar questions: What can we as businesses and nonprofits do to better represent and serve the people we call neighbors? How can we be more inclusive of all our staff members and more attractive to a diverse pool of potential employees?

In 2018, we adopted “equity and inclusion” as one of the Foundation’s core values and asked ourselves the same questions other organizations are asking today. We recognized that to realize our vision of a Dubuque region where all people can thrive, our work must include people from all walks of life and lead to equitable outcomes for everyone.

To understand what “equitable outcomes” means to our community, we decided to devote one staff meeting per month to studying a different DEI topic. We invite local speakers to present on issues unique to Dubuque’s diverse communities, while our staff members research and present on DEI topics related to their personal passions or areas of their work.

Our staff members have taken part in activities that highlight the intricacies of the U.S. immigration system, watched videos that explain how redlining and zoning have led to inequities in the housing system and used an interactive “genderbread person” to help us understand terminology related to gender and sexual identity. The resources we included in the DEI toolkit are drawn directly from these staff meetings or were recommended to us by trusted community experts.

Each meeting, we remind our colleagues that we are creating a safe space for open and honest discussion. We encourage people to listen to one another and speak from personal experience.

With this toolkit, we ultimately want to assure organizations that they are not alone on this journey. Systemic inequities affect specific groups of people differently, but they are challenges that everyone must work together to solve. By sharing resources, we as a community can take positive steps toward building a community that is welcoming and inclusive.

Getting started might feel daunting, but the journey will be rewarding.