Racial Equity Leadership Network


Fellowship Overview

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.

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.


Despite decades-long efforts of education reform, there is remarkably little improvement in the capability of the American education system to generate the learning outcomes that the racially and socioeconomically diverse student body of today needs.  Meaningful efforts to gain parity in access and achievement require a bold and significant shift in the approach to education leadership and practice.  Additionally, it creates the imperative for leaders to openly and authentically center race within education equity discussions.

We think the system we need now requires leaders in every corner of our nation to think, engage and act differently in the face of the complex challenges they navigate and to use their positional power as an important lever for eliminating racial disparities in their systems.  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 thereby realizing a compelling vision of educational equity for every student.


Network Benefits

As members of the Racial Equity Leadership Network, Fellows should walk away from this experience with a more nuanced understanding of existing and potential equity challenges their districts’ face and could encounter in the future. They will be provided with a cadre of tangible tools and resources in the form of critical time and space to strategize, peer networking, access to experts, coaching, and technical assistance. Additionally, fellows will have the opportunity to engage in thought partnership with in-district coaches to assist in strategizing on how best to address their challenges. Fellows may also earn a chance to assert themselves as experts in the discipline through possibilities for shared publication and peer-to-peer learning. Finally, fellows will receive a host of suggestions for ways to utilize their current team and resources more efficiently and promote buy-in for future initiatives so that they might scale their efforts moving forward.


  • 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.


  • Racial Equity-In-Action Inquiry Cycle: Fellows will receive support identifying a challenge, designing an approach, executing a strategy, and reporting back on progress and lessons learned. Fellows will also have access to other resources that will enable effective implementation.


  • Coaching & Technical Assistance: Fellows will work with SEF Network Faculty to co-design and customize coaching and technical assistance designed to support district teams to advance an equity agenda. Coaching and technical assistance could include but is not limited to:
    • Communications Strategy
    • Equitable School Finance
    • Community Schools Strategy Development
    • Equity Strategy Development
    • Executive Coaching and Team Development
    • District Equity Audits
    • Listening Campaigns 


Network At a Glance:

Each cohort of the Racial Equity Leadership Network (RELN) will be comprised of up to twelve (12) executive leaders from school districts. RELN Fellows will attend 5 in-person convenings focused on essential levers for equity-centered leadership and system transformation. Their fellows and their districts will receive customized coaching to support the planning and implementation of a co-created action plan addressing their unique equity challenge.  Fellows will be asked to create in-district design teams, a 5-7 member workgroup of district colleagues committed to addressing racial disparities within their school system and have the desire, influence and capacity to support the Fellow in their efforts to forge change.


Learn More 


Have questions about the fellowship? See our FAQ for answers to general questions. For additional assistance, please forward all inquiries to our RELN Program Coordination Team at racialequity@southerneducation.org.

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