HMI Diversity & Inclusion Statement

Approved by the Board of Trustees in 2018

The High Mountain Institute believes that both diversity and inclusion are essential to growth and learning. We all achieve our potential when each person in the community feels a true sense of belonging, and has the confidence to express their full self.

At HMI, inclusiveness starts with an intentional and affirming community. Creating such a community is our priority. We connect deeply to each other through classes, wilderness expeditions, and shared responsibilities. We prioritize open communication and honest conflict resolution. These efforts inspire us to build trust, to value diverging perspectives, and to build communities greater than ourselves.

Historically, however, outdoor programs like HMI have attracted largely white and privileged populations. At times, this has made it challenging for all at our school to feel fully part of our community. We seek to address these challenges at HMI by increasing the diversity of our students, faculty, staff, trustees, and advisers; by creating classes and activities that explore and reflect students’ identities; by expanding the cultural competence of faculty and staff; and by continually challenging the assumptions we hold.

We engage with this challenging work because we are committed to building an exceptional learning environment rooted in community—not just for some, but for all who seek to be inspired by the natural world.

Student Profile: Gabby Feizbakhsh 

Ongoing diversity and inclusion initiatives at HMI

The following are ongoing initiatives at HMI with the goal of making our community more diverse and welcoming, and our student experiences and outcomes more equitable:

HMI’s endowment draw is exclusively used to support financial aid; nearly 30% of our Semester and Summer Term students receive aid. We have partnered with public and public charter schools to advertise our programs and scholarships as one step towards deepening the diversity of our applicant pool and student body. 

HMI partners with a number of minority recruiting companies including Strategenius and Nemnet. We have also posted positions on a wider rage of job sites and audited our position descriptions to ensure they are culturally welcoming. 

The Identity Series is an on-campus biweekly facilitated community meeting where all students are encouraged to share personal stories and explore how the various identities present in our semester shape our community. 

HMI is a founding member of the Colorado Diversity Network, a network of independent schools devoted to teacher professional development around equity and inclusion, and we have doubled our professional development budget to provide more opportunities for our teachers to engage in this work.

HMI has renovated facilities, reorganized student groupings on backpacking expeditions, and made preparations to welcome students all along the gender spectrum to our school.