Updates From The Colts Organization & Board Of Directors

April 11, 2018

The Colts Youth Organization is committed to an environment in which relationships are characterized by dignity, honesty, courtesy, respect, and equitable treatment. This includes a commitment to create and maintain a positive organizational culture and climate which:

  • is welcoming of difference and diversity and is based on inclusivity
  • encourages members, staff, and volunteers to disclose and discuss incidents of bullying or harassment in a non-threatening environment
  • promotes respectful relationships across the entire organization
  • is free from any form or threat of harassment

Over the past 18 months, the Colts Board of Directors and administrative staff have spent significant time reviewing and updating all of our policies, procedures, and operations. We are a nonprofit youth organization, and the safety, well-being, and education of the students we serve is the driving force behind everything we do.

In April of 2017, our Board of Directors completed revisions of the bylaws for the organization (found here). These bylaws provide the organizational foundation on which the business is built. In May of 2017, the Board of Directors adopted a policy that requires annual criminal background checks for all staff and volunteers (found here). This policy was enacted in accordance with the Drum Corps International Strategic Plan, adopted in 2017 (found here).

In March 2018, our Board of Directors completed revisions of the Personnel Policies for Seasonal Staff, which applies to both paid staff members and volunteers. Specific attention was paid to our Personal Conduct Policy, which includes behavior between members, between members and staff or volunteers, and between staff and volunteers. Definitions, examples, and reporting mechanisms for abuse, bullying, hazing, hostility, or sexual harassment were added to provide a comprehensive list and examples of behaviors the Colts Youth Organization does not condone or support. Violation of any of these policies by anyone associated with the organization may be grounds for dismissal or termination of employment. The updated document can be found here.

We have also updated policies and all of our reporting processes to be consistent. Our formal "chain of command," from the bottom all the way to the top, is member to section leader, to drum major, to caption head, to program director or tour director, to corps director, to executive director, to board president. Anyone at the Colts is able to go to whomever they are most comfortable, and anyone is welcome to jump straight to the top of our list.

We also firmly believe in, and are committed to, creating and maintaining an open and transparent environment where any concerns can be brought to any person of authority. This culture serves us well, and we are committed to continuing it into the future — commonly referred to as providing a "scholastic environment" within the organization. To that end, we also understand it is essential we provide an avenue for confidential and anonymous submission of concerns, complaints, and issues. We have added a webpage (found here) dedicated to our whistleblower process that allows anyone to submit concerns, complaints, or issues anonymously.

In addition, we have updated our website in several key areas to make these documents easily accessible to anyone. At the bottom of each webpage are links to the Colts Member Handbook, Personnel Policies for Seasonal Staff, our whistleblower process, and our Contact page. Under Quicklinks, our Documents page was divided into one page for Member Documents and one page for Policies and Procedures

The Colts Member Handbook (found here) for 2018 includes language from the updated Personal Conduct Policy. The member handbook is updated annually and outlines our expectations of behavior for members. We are committed to creating an environment where member-to-member abuse, bullying, hazing, hostility, or sexual harassment is non-existent.

We are also committed to developing a culture of leadership and member accountability. In September 2015, Howard Weinstein joined the organization, bringing with him a formal leadership program that allowed us to expedite many cultural changes within the corps and helped strengthen our culture of openness, transparency, and accountability. Howard's formal leadership course includes monthly conference calls for leadership training, as well as meetings during camp weekends, and is open to any member of the drum corps. We interview and use an application process to select section leaders and other titled leadership positions within the drum corps. Regular communication between staff and the leadership team continues throughout the summer.

New for 2018, we are offering a scholarship for any leadership team member who completes a bullying, hazing, and inappropriate behaviors course offered online through the National Federation of State High School Associations. The NFHS is a nonprofit that has "led the development of education-based interscholastic sports and activities that help students succeed in their lives." Their programs and trainings reach 18,500 high schools nationally and over 11 million students. The course can be found online here. Through this course, students develop an added awareness of how to respond, handle, and react to situations that may arise on tour or in their personal lives.

All of these updates are designed to make the Colts Youth Organization stronger and allow us to continue providing life-changing experiences for all of our members, staff, volunteers, alumni, donors, fans, and anyone connected to the organization. Drum corps should be an environment free from any form of sexual harassment, bullying, abuse, hazing, or hostility, and the Colts are are committed to creating that environment. Should you have any comments, concerns, or questions, you may direct them to our Board President Peter Hansen (coltsboard63@gmail.com), Board Member Cathi Roberts (cathiroberts.omaha@gmail.com), or Executive Director Jeff MacFarlane (jeff@colts.org). We look forward to having another incredible season in 2018, and believe it will be another amazing year for the drum corps activity.

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