Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

Crohn's & Colitis Foundation core values - graphic

At the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation, our patients, volunteers, and staff leadership are committed to continuously evolving the organization’s embodiment of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). DEI is fundamental to the success of our overall mission – finding cures and improving the quality of life for all IBD patients.


Our employees and the larger community are uniquely interconnected, where many of our staff and volunteers are also IBD patients, caregivers, and/or healthcare professionals. This overlap makes it critical that our approach to DEI is woven into every aspect of the Foundation’s work, both inside and outside the organization. Furthermore, our research estimates that nearly 1 in 100 Americans are diagnosed with IBD. However, this statistic does not fully account for the health inequities that many underserved communities face, which contribute to delayed diagnoses or remaining undiagnosed. Our commitment to reaching all IBD patients includes finding ways to address inequities such as this, in order to meet every patient where they are on their journey to remission, and ultimately cures.


Our DEI strategy is an ongoing effort that evolves as we learn from our work and from our peers. As you view this page, you will find examples of activities we’ve developed in partnership with underrepresented communities to ensure their cultural appropriateness and ability to reach the underserved.


Advancing DEI Within the IBD Community

For the general population, it’s challenging to reach an early and accurate diagnosis of IBD, and this is only amplified for underrepresented communities. To help combat this issue, we have partnered with underrepresented communities to develop and deliver tailored offerings in our two focus areas: Education, Support & Advocacy, and Research & Care.


The DEI Patient and Caregiver Advisory Committee assists in developing and reviewing programs, initiatives, and resources put together by the Foundation for our Education, Support & Advocacy efforts – see below for more program details. As it relates to Research & Care, the Foundation’s National Scientific Advisory Committee (NSAC) has a Diversity and Inclusion Subcommittee that advises on DEI issues within the IBD healthcare community and the NSAC itself, including incorporating inclusive practices and increasing representation and participation of healthcare professionals, patients, and volunteers who are of diverse backgrounds.

Education, Support & Advocacy

Morning of Culture and Morning of Community Programs

Both the Black/African American and Hispanic/Latino populations are severely and negatively impacted by inequities throughout the healthcare system - including social determinants of health and biases that impact quality of care. “Morning of Culture” and “Morning of Community” were co-constructed with the Black/African American and Hispanic/Latino communities to address these systemic inequities.


Bringing together patients and caregivers from these communities, our customized programs provide attendees with helpful resources on the latest research, treatments, and therapies for IBD.  The sessions also provide attendees with the opportunity to hear from IBD healthcare professionals who identify with their respective community. If you are interested in attending or supporting the 2024 events below, please reach out to Caneka McNeil Moore, the Foundation’s Senior Director of Education & Diversity Engagement.

  • Morning of Culture – Supporting the Black/African American community
  • Morning of Community – Supporting the Hispanic/Latino community
    • Tampa Bay, FL – June 8, 2024
    • San Antonio, TX – August 10, 2024
    • Miami, FL – October 19, 2024

Tailored Resources

The following are dedicated resources we have created to support the specific needs of underrepresented communities. We encourage you to share these broadly and provide us with your feedback:

Inclusion & Belonging at Camp Oasis

Camp Oasis is the Foundation’s summer camp for children and young adults with IBD. Camp Oasis is offered both virtually and at multiple locations throughout the U.S. Our research shows that Camp Oasis has a lasting and positive impact on campers - helping  position them to better manage their IBD and live their best lives. We have implemented the initiatives below to foster an inclusive environment where all campers can feel a strong sense of belonging:

  • Cultural Competency Training for Volunteers: To help ensure all campers are met with a safe and supportive environment, the Foundation offers cultural competency training for all Camp Oasis volunteers and support staff. Topics include diversity, inclusion, microaggressions, unconscious bias, gender identity, and more.
  • Camp Scholarships: The National Camp Attendance Scholarship & Travel Stipend Program was created so no child would be turned away from camp for financial reasons. We’re proud to say that thanks to our generous donors, we have never turned down a request for assistance.
  • Supporting Gender Nonconforming Campers: Support plans are developed in collaboration with all campers who identify as gender nonconforming and their parents to ensure their needs are understood prior to camp.
  • 2024 Open House: This year we are hosting a Parent Open House to help build trust and engagement when cultural barriers may exist. Prospective parents can connect with experienced camp families, volunteers, and staff, and ask questions about the camp environment.


Takes Steps Accessibility

Take Steps is the Foundation's largest fundraising event and the most accessible way to get involved with the Foundation. Come join a walk near you!

Research & Care

Enhancing Black/African American IBD Care

In collaboration with the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB), we secured a grant from the CDC that supports a comprehensive five-year project aimed at identifying and addressing barriers to medical diagnosis and care of Black/African American IBD patients.

Accelerating Enrollment in IBD Clinical Trials

With funding from The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust, a three-year initiative aims to improve the recruitment and retention of patients in IBD clinical trials. This includes exploring and addressing barriers to enrollment of diverse populations, initially focusing on Black/African American and Hispanic/Latino patients and developing best practices to enhance engagement through inclusion.

Prioritizing DEI with Our Employees

Whether it’s fostering a sense of belonging in individuals or educating the entire Foundation staff, our internal DEI initiatives aim to empower and instill empathy within our teams.  As we elevate the importance of everyone showing up as an ally, we see more and more employees participating in our DEI efforts.  Our employees are also seeing that our efforts are not only making us better colleagues, but also better equipping us to serve the IBD community.

Employee Resource Group (ERG)

We are currently rolling out multiple ERGs that unite employees from shared backgrounds and their allies.  Additionally, we have a DEI Council that acts as a connector between all ERGs, and as a resource to support their success. Thank you to our DEI Council and to our National Trustees, Audra Miller and Annette Martinez, who have generously given their time and guidance to help form our ERGs.


Meet our DEI Council members!



Sarah Lewis, DEI Director


Amy Bietbet Washington,
Senior Executive Director of Northern Ohio Chapter



Erica Tolentino, Director of National Operations


Jose Torres, Associate Director of Business Development Operations


Conversation Corners

Organized by our ERGs, Conversation Corners are monthly, internal events that highlight underrepresented perspectives and experiences. These highly regarded and highly attended events provide a safe space for all employees to hear from speakers, learn about commemorations, share experiences, and ask questions. A recent Conversation Corner around allyship featured several employees who shared what allyship has meant and looked like in their lives. From this, numerous attendees were empowered to speak as well, in what turned out to be one of the most highly engaged and talked about sessions so far.



If you are interested in contributing or partnering with us on our DEI efforts, please contact our Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Sarah Lewis or Senior Director, Education & Diversity Engagement Caneka McNeil Moore.







The Community Engagement initiative is generously supported, in part, by the following partners:

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