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Equity Institute helps improve the educational outcomes of students, eliminate racial gaps in academic achievement, and foster a positive self-image for students from historically marginalized communities. We envision an educational system that ensures young people have access to educational experiences that allow them to build the knowledge and skills they need to thrive in the world.
Equity Institute engages students, parents, educators, and community members through our monthly EduLeaders of Color meetups, facilitated learning experiences, and biannual policy forums. We facilitate learning experiences with schools and community members and partner with school districts.
We’re looking to triple the number of educators we serve. We are analyzing, developing, and refining our facilitated learning experiences; building a robust online platform of well-researched, informative, and easy-to-understand information about educational equity; and launching, prototyping, and continually improving our EduLead Fellowship.
Equity Institute develops and implements innovative solutions for building more diverse, equitable, and inclusive learning and professional environments.
We’re an education-based nonprofit organization working to develop innovative systems that cultivate culturally responsive schools and communities for all learners.
More specifically, we focus on the following:
Learning and Development: We work directly with schools, organizations, and communities to develop and implement culturally responsive strategies that will advance their equity goals.
Research: We engage in research, analysis, consultation and synthesis of information to produce thoughts, ideas, and practical approaches to promoting equity in our education system.
Coalition Building: We support and cultivate meaningful interactions between people in an effort to promote collective action geared towards advocating for equity within the education system.
EI intentionally works at the intersection of individual, school-based, and governmental action to magnify our actions to build a more equitable and just education system.
We’re here to provide people serving students with information and education to improve their leadership practices.
In 2014, a majority of students entering U.S. public schools came from minority groups – a monumental first in U.S. history. Unfortunately, students from historically marginalized racial backgrounds often experience little academic success as compared to their white peers.
As our student population grows more diverse, teachers must be prepared to work with students from a wide variety of backgrounds. Failing to adequately prepare educators to teach a racially, ethnically, and linguistically diverse student body may lead to serious social and economic ramifications.
For many years, significant gaps in academic achievement have existed between white students and students of color. In the 2019 National Assessment of Educational Progress 4th Grade Reading Level Assessment, nearly half of all white students scored at or above grade level in literacy while less than a quarter of black and Latino students tested proficient. In addition to this, according to the United States Department of Education, students of color typically experience chronic absenteeism rates at higher rates than white students.
We exist to help schools, organizations, and communities improve the educational outcomes of students, eliminate racial gaps in academic achievement, and foster a positive self-image for students from historically marginalized communities.
We envision an educational system that recognizes identity and human connection is central to the process of teaching and learning and ensures young people have access to educational experiences that allow them to build the knowledge and skills they need to thrive in the world.
In spring 2016, Karla and Carlon met to discuss common challenges they were experiencing as classroom-based educators within their school district. They both found they had challenges with advocating for culturally responsive pedagogy that transcended rote memorization.
Given their identities from historically underrepresented communities and experiences with traditional schooling, they deeply believed education needed to be more than test results, especially considering the underachievement of students of color and the immense opportunity gaps present in school communities composed mostly of students of color. In addition to this, they noticed they made up a very small minority of the educator population in their schools despite sharing a large portion of their students’ backgrounds and identities.
Karla and Carlon ultimately left the classroom in an effort to explore innovative ways to both improve the pedagogical approach of educators and to support efforts to diversify the teacher workforce.
Equity Institute was founded in 2019 and builds on the success of their EduLeaders of Color meet ups and advocacy, which they began hosting in 2016. As the EduLeaders of Color network grew, schools and organizations started reaching out to Karla and Carlon for thoughts, ideas, and practical approaches to building more equitable and inclusive school and community environments.
Karla started leading small workshops with a close colleague, Emily Abedon, while Carlon focused on policy research. Their work was well received across a variety of organizations and within local and state governments.
Eventually, Karla was invited to present their work at a meeting of Rhode Island school superintendents. After the presentation, several superintendents expressed appreciation for the information and a strong interest in having us develop learning experiences for their teachers.
Inspired by the reception, Equity Institute was launched with an aim to help schools and organizations become more culturally responsive and inclusive while addressing the question of how to build equity in schools and communities.
We believe equity means every learner has access to opportunities that are aligned with their needs and support their academic and social emotional success. We assert that equity in education resembles a system in which:
- Group identities (race, ethnicity, gender, religion, class, sexuality) are empowering and essential components in maximizing educational potential.
- Social circumstances (housing, healthy food, access to quality health care, safe neighborhoods) are organized in ways that support the well-being of all learners.
- Public policy and laws promote equitable outcomes in education (e.g. fair funding, culturally relevant curriculum mandates, pipelines for people of color).
EI works exclusively with education organizations committed to advancing equity. Our staff has over 30 years of combined experience facilitating learning and design experiences focused on diversity, equity, and inclusion in education.
Over the past three years, Equity Institute has engaged nearly 1,500 students, parents, educators, and community members through our monthly EduLeaders of Color meetups, facilitated learning experiences, and biannual policy forums.
Additionally, we’ve facilitated a variety of learning experiences with schools and community members. We’ve partnered with school districts including, but not limited to Burrillville School District; Central Falls School District; Cranston Public Schools; East Providence School District; North Providence School Department; and Providence Public Schools to deliver unique learning sessions where participants discuss issues related to equity, race, and identity in education. We’ve also presented at numerous conferences and gatherings including the South by Southwest (SXSW) EDU Conference & Festival; iNACOL Symposium; and Big Picture Learning’s Big Bang.
Karla leads the organization as the Chief Executive Officer, and Carlon oversees strategic and operational planning as Chief Impact Officer.
We also have a small team of mover and shakers that’s constantly growing. Read more about the team on our Equity Architects page.
Over the next few years, we’re looking triple the number of educators and leaders served through our programs and services. We’d like to establish Equity Institute as a top resource for understanding education equity and how we can pursue it.
We’re particularly focused on analyzing, developing, and refining our facilitated learning experiences; building a robust online platform that produces well-researched, informative, and easy-to-understand information about educational equity; and launching, prototyping, and continually improving our EduLead Fellowship.
Equity Institute is a nonprofit that is funded through earned revenue and generous support from foundation and individual donors.
A Just Society
We believe children need access to the resources necessary to build respect for the worth, dignity, and equality of every individual in our diverse society.
We believe great design can support communities in understanding the meaning and implementation of equitable practices and policies. We’re reimagining how we discuss and integrate diversity, racial equity and inclusion to empower educators, students, leaders and stakeholders as designers in creating sustainable change for their districts, schools, and organizations.
Belief in the Power
We believe that the expertise and judgment of education professionals are critical to student success and we must support and promote their proficiency for creating culturally responsive communities.
From the way we facilitate learning experiences to the way we present information, we aim to think outside the box in everything we do.
A Bias Towards Action
We don’t just want to have ideas, but rather put our ideas to work. We aim to take meaningful action to move ideas forward.
Commitment to Learning, Adapting, and Improving
We recognize that anti-oppression and liberatory consciousness work are complex. Given this, we are nimble and flexible in our approach to racial justice work in order to respond in real time to critical problems
Looking For Other Ways To Get Involved?
- Join our EduLeaders of Color network to discover opportunities to connect and build with equity-minded folx.
- Subscribe to our Equity Institute newsletter for regular updates on what’s happening across our work and insightful resources.
- Contact us about leading a learning and development project with your school or organization.
- Read and listen to our got equity? blog for thoughts, ideas, and practical advice on building equity in your school and community.