Racial Equity Leadership Network

The Opportunity & Aim

In districts all over the United States, race and class remain among the most reliable predictors of student success in school.  Currently, in southern states, more than half of all the students enrolled in public school are from low-income families, with a growing number of families living in extreme poverty. The majority of public school students in the South are also children of color, rapidly changing the demographics of large and small districts. The increasing diversity and inequities students and families confront, creates an imperative for us to reimagine how we create a system that increases access and opportunity for all children to learn, develop, and thrive.

We think the system we need now requires a bold and significant shift in educational leadership and practice.  Leaders in every corner of our nation are being called to think, engage and act differently in the face of the complex challenges they navigate. Strengthening the will, skill and capacity of district leaders and their teams is an important lever for advancing authentic and enduring equity-centered system change.

Funded by The Atlantic Philanthropies, the Southern Education Foundation is answering this call by launching an innovative Racial Equity Leadership Network  (RELN) to advance the capacity of district leaders committed to enduring equity-centered systems change as a solution to addressing racial, economic and academic disparities in districts across the South. 

Learn more about the RELN program overviewbenefitseligibility, and partners.

Fellowship Overview

The Racial Equity Leadership Network is an 18-Month Fellowship Program for Executive Leaders in Districts who are committed to addressing historical disparities in their system and realizing a compelling vision of educational equity for every student.

Fellows will attend five (5) two-day Network Convenings focused on essential levers for equity leadership and system transformation. In between Network Convenings, Fellows will have access to a comprehensive menu of services and technical support including on-site coaching and strategic consultation to support implementation in their home districts.

Each cohort of the Racial Equity Leadership Network will be comprised of up to twelve (12) executives ( i.e., Superintendents, Deputy Superintendents, Chief Academic Officers, etc.) - or other leaders charged to impact the district’s unique racial equity challenge.

As members of the Racial Equity Leadership Network, fellows will: 

  • Engage and enlist internal and external stakeholders in addressing the factors in the education system that contribute to existing disparities in child well-being and learning outcomes;
  • Leverage community voice and demand, quantitative and qualitative data, and local opportunities, in order to influence and advance strategic goals and practice change and;
  • Advance education policy and practice that is equity-centered and results in student well-being and deeper learning outcomes for children.

Mission Statement

The faculty and partners involved in the Racial Equity Leadership Network recognize a need to more fully engage in thought partnership with district decision makers and support their efforts as they work toward addressing the significant equity challenges that increasingly exist in our classrooms and communities. We are committed to advancing promising solutions through a combination of collaboration, coaching, policy, practice, advocacy, and action research, and in doing so, we believe we will arrive at a more equitable education system together. 

Eligibility Requirements

  • Fellows must be an executive leader (i.e., Superintendent, Deputy Superintendent, Chief Academic Officer) in a school district in the South that is committed to reducing inequities in their districts and exhibit readiness to implement innovative, transformational change in their system. Special consideration may be given to candidates from states outside the South on a case-by-case basis.
  • Fellows must be available and committed to attending and fully participating in all five (5) two-day Network Convenings.
  • Fellows must identify and support the involvement of a design team inclusive of 5-7 members. This can be an existing team if applicable. This team will be responsible for identifying a racial equity challenge that exists within their district and designing and implementing strategies to advance progress on it. We strongly recommend including at least one member of your cabinet level team (i.e. Chief Academic Officer, Deputy Superintendent) to promote support and consistency.

​Click Here for additional details concerning the eligibility requirements and SEF's approach to equity-centered leadership for Fellows and District Design Teams who participate in the Racial Equity Leadership Network.  

Network Benefits

  • Time & Space: An opportunity to step away from the daily pressures and demands to engage and reflect thoughtfully and share intellectually and practically as educational leaders.
  • Peer Networks: Fellows will have an opportunity to share and receive lessons and support from district leaders, who understand the unique complexity of the regional challenges leaders confront, while capitalizing on opportunities for peer learning, support and advising, and building alliances.
  • Access to Exclusive Networking & Learning Opportunities: Fellows and their district colleagues will be invited to participate in exclusive Racial Equity Leadership Network events (ex. Speaker Series, Regional Development Events, Symposiums, District Learning Visits, etc.), that allow them to engage with other thought leaders, policymakers and innovators in the field of education.
  • Compensation: Travel, lodging, meals and learning materials will be provided for each fellow by the Southern Education Foundation. 
  • And a Host of Support Services...

​​Click Here for additional details concerning the host of unique features that await Fellows and their districts who participate in SEF's Racial Equity Leadership Network

Further details regarding the Racial Equity Leadership Network may be found at www.SouthernEducation.org/RacialEquityLeadership.

Interested in Applying? Please forward all inquiries to our RELN Program Coordination Team at racialequity@southerneducation.org.

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