Equity Institute aims to improve cultural responsiveness in schools, communities

PROVIDENCE – A nonprofit group that launched last week says it wants to ensure efforts to improve schools in Providence and elsewhere in New England, as well as promote cultural responsiveness and equity in order to boost the performance of students of color.

The group, the Equity Institute, said it advocates for systemic change in education systems by facilitating organizational development, recruiting and supporting talented leaders of color, and offering equity workshops and training designed to build culturally responsive learning environments and workplaces

Equity Institute was founded by Karla Vigil and Carlon Howard and builds on their EduLeaders of Color meetups and advocacy, according to an Equity Institute news release.

The institute said it has been awarded grants from the Nellie Mae Education Foundation and Rhode Island Foundation and receives other philanthropic support.

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“Districts and schools cannot begin to personalize learning without including students’ identities at the forefront of their work. Equity Institute will advocate for and guide districts and schools to make systemic changes that expand opportunity for the state’s most underserved students and communities,” Vigil said in a news release. “Educators of color are more likely to leave the profession than other teachers, even as our districts are becoming more diverse every year. Equity Institute will help districts and schools develop culturally responsive practices necessary to teach students of all backgrounds, and we’ll work with state and local leaders to ensure that equity, inclusion and culturally responsive teaching are central components of teacher recruitment, development and retention efforts.”

Equity Institute said it offers innovative design labs and workshops that empower teachers and administrators. It also advises public policy aimed to ensure that teacher recruitment, development and retention measures account for equity and cultural competence and continues the networking and mentorship opportunities that nurtures an ecosystem for leaders of color through the EduLeaders initiative, the organization said.

“Education needs to be more than test results, especially when you consider the gaps between students of color and their classmates. Equity and culturally responsive practices must be a part of our educational framework in Rhode Island and across New England,” Howard said. “Three years ago, Karla and I hosted the first EduLeaders of Color meetup and sparked a conversation that’s grown to include educators, administrators, elected officials, education advocates and business leaders. Our aim with Equity Institute is to create equitable school environments that give every staff member in every district the support, training and tools to become culturally proficient and meet their students’ diverse needs.”

The Equity Institute’s website is www.theequityinstitute.org.

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