While Impression 5 Science Center has been serving the greater Lansing community for nearly 50 years, our organization has been faced with a moment of truth and reckoning. Earlier last year, the lives of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd were ended far too early due to police brutality. Their deaths forced us to do necessary work that should have been done long ago—we have spent the past several months looking inward and setting a permanent course forward that deliberately fights against the systemic racism that exists in our nation, our community, our organization, and ourselves.

 

Our team is full of incredibly smart, talented, and passionate individuals who choose to use their skills to move forward the mission of empowering children and families through meaningful hands-on STEM engagement.  While that mission lives and breathes inside each of us, we are facing a reality that reveals shortcomings in how we employ and serve Black and underserved individuals. In listening to, seeing, and reading about the pain, heartache, frustration, anger, and despair our Black community (and our own staff) has endured and continues to endure, it’s time to face our truth and do the work necessary to build a supportive framework in our community that serves, protects, and values Black families and all people of color. The Impression 5 team has taken time to reflect, host discussions, and create a list of deliverables that we will work as an organization to achieve.

 

Since we began this work, we have seen the horrific deaths of Rayshard Brooks, Walter Wallace, Jr., and too many others play out as national news stories, making it very evident that there are lethal disparities in how people of color are treated in our communities. Our values demand that we take a public stand and move forward with intentional action founded on the core belief that Black children's dreams matter—that Black lives matter. 

 

Impression 5 Science Center is committed to doing the work to build a workplace and community space that is socially and racially conscious and equitable in our approach to STEM education and identity. We have taken time to reflect, host discussions, and create a list of deliverables that we will work as an organization to achieve. Below are our next steps—each one a promise—to put in the time, training, and resources to make Impression 5 Science Center a better place for Black children and families:

 

Conduct Internal Audits, Update Procedures, and Create Training Frameworks

by March 2021

  • Re-evaluate pre-existing protocols for calling the police. In the past, we have called the police when people experiencing homelessness have sought shelter on Impression 5 property and to resolve conflicts between guests. Moving forward, we plan to create a clear protocol that includes alternative resolution methods for these circumstances and others.

  • Carefully review all programs, workshops, and experiences through a socially and racially conscious lens and make changes to guides and trainings to ensure educational opportunities and experiences are inclusive, supportive, and just.

  • Implement supportive staff onboarding and require ongoing trainings that include:

    • combatting all forms of racism;

    • using words and phrases that support equity and universal worth;

    • practicing accountability to guests and fellow staff members to ensure that people of color are always treated with respect and dignity; and

    • developing active listening skills and interpersonal relationships to ensure that people of color, especially children, feel that their voices are heard, valued, and elevated.

  • Actively seek to employ, retain, and competitively compensate Black, indigenous, and people of color and ensure their representation on Impression 5’s Board of Directors.

  • Provide supportive opportunities and benefits for employees who endure hardship based on their race while working at Impression 5. 

  • Evaluate all current contracts and recurring business relationships and take steps to intentionally partner with local Black-owned businesses, professionals, and skilled trades. 

  • Thoughtfully review rentals or events by outside groups/organizations  to ensure our facility only hosts opportunities that align with our organizational values.

 

Develop New Educational Initiatives

by June 2021

  • Create spaces both inside and outside our building to showcase and elevate the lives and work of Black and underrepresented scientists across all scientific disciplines

  • Invest in a robust selection of books inside Impression 5 TO GO that are written by or feature Black and underrepresented people and scientists.

  • Extend our mission’s reach beyond our downtown Lansing location to ensure that we exist as a safe and educational space for Black and underserved people within our shared Lansing community.

 

Create Long-term Community Partnerships

by June 2021

  • Prioritize and grow community and school partnerships to make sure that building individual strength and potential through hands on STEM education is accessible to communities that are typically underserved and underrepresented in STEM.

  • Establish member reciprocity relationships with museums that focus on or feature exhibits on the experiences of individuals who are Black, indigenous, or people of color.

  • Donate 15% (typically $350) of all Impression 5 TO GO book purchases and 5% (typically $4,000) of the Capital City River Run’s annual fundraising revenue to a local Black-owned or Black community-serving business, organization, or resource each year.

  • Allocate 10% of educational program spots as available via scholarship to students from underserved communities who are unable to partake due to financial barriers.

  • Work towards providing solutions for students unable to partake in our educational programs due to transportation barriers.

 

We invite you to follow us on this page as we work through these initial steps. In addition to following our actions, you can provide feedback, insight, or report on these actions and share your experiences at Impression 5. We will check in with our community and team and audit these commitments in March 2021. In October 2021, we will include a status snapshot of our actions in a member communication.

 

As a team and a community organization, we sincerely and deeply apologize for not addressing and correcting these failures sooner. We’re sorry to only be directly facing these realities now—after a national conversation has driven us to look inward. We are committed to doing this ongoing work and are determined to make positive strides forward every day to continue to learn from our shortcomings and grow as an organization. We believe Black lives matter, and these actions will be our guideposts as we continue to focus our hearts, minds, and energies on building an equitable future where Black children and families fully and wholeheartedly experience the respect, worth, and dignity they deserve.