How to create a description of the purpose of your organization’s equity work and why it’s critical


The equity imperative/commitment statement has the makings of a skeletal project plan. Given what you know about your organization, come to an agreed-upon process check. This document should provide some guidance about how you would go about doing your work for the period of the project (could be the year) thus creating a place of orientation and grounding.

This Includes:

  • Inequity expression as previously discussed and articulated
  • Expression of commitment to equity outcomes
  • Narrative of the Root Cause Analysis (fishbone diagram) listing any factors contributing to inequities
  • What’s the inquiry to be taken relative to the identified inequities, that your team wants to leverage over the course of the inquiry
  • Expression about any diagnostics or evidence that may be part of the inquiry
  • Discussion of possible drivers for improvement that might be tested or validated

An Example Equity Imperative Statement:

Every student needs to have access and opportunities to a high quality education where the adults know the whole student, recognize their individual strengths and ensure all students, regardless of race, ethnicity or economic status, are able to thrive.

Currently schools operate on a deficit model where students are not known for their strengths and talents, but for what they fail to achieve. This is especially problematic for students of color and those who are economically disadvantaged. Our core challenge is to change the educational system so that each student is known, appreciated, and supported so that they can be successful academically and personally.

[Our organizational model] gives schools a comprehensive, intentional approach to meeting students’ academic, social, and emotional needs. Teaching becomes more purposeful, direct instruction becomes more effective, and students thrive with expanded support. [Our organization] helps educators better connect with their students and address the issues that cause students to fail courses, dropout, and/or engage in harmful behavior. significant improvements in course credits earned, grade point averages, and standardized test scores; decreases in failure rates, suspensions, and absenteeism; and improved job satisfaction among teachers.

We are committed to providing professional development and coaching to school systems to equip staff with strategies and tools to build and maintain positive intentional relationships between staff and staff, staff and students and students and students and utilize real time data to help students succeed.

Background Information:

We have invested the gap for credits earned, NWEA scores, and SEL measures such as student report of expectations and rigor, school engagement, and supportive relationships. Gaps exist in these measures. We also looked at changes in the gap after one year of [program participation]. The gap in credits earned and SEL measures has started to close.

Root causes we will address are student and teacher beliefs and behavior

We think that an important issue underlying the gap is a lower degree of self-efficacy and use of peers for academic tasks in students of color. In addition, these students may not be aware of the informal and implicit “rules” of doing well in school. We also think there is a lack of awareness of these issues in teachers, as well as a lack of understanding of cultural beliefs and behaviors in both students and parents of color.

Project Aim:

By June 2018, all 9th grade students in 20 new schools will earn all their core course credits, and opportunity structures will be put in place during the school year to ensure all students, regardless of race, ethnicity, or economic status, reach this goal.

Preconditions for Success

In order to develop the equity imperative, your organization should have some knowledge about the specific equity challenges you are facing. Without this knowledge, the statement becomes too broad and vague with no actionable substance.

Connection to Equity

An equity imperative is a written statement articulating what inequities your organization is committed to addressing and why. It provides an equity-focused statement of purpose and articulates WHY this effort is critical to the mission of the organization, to the individual team members, and to the community as a whole. This statement describes the inequity – or “equity challenge” – that the effort is being undertaken to address and explicitly states the team’s commitment to and the nature of the equity it seeks to advance.

Evidence of Effectiveness

"The team feels a sense of urgency, and it is clearly a life and death matter. Students in the areas that [our organization is] planning to transform in Year Two of our work with the BELE network are having their lives cut short because of a lack of access to opportunities with poor culture, climate, and academics at school sites. The imperative for the team is crisis, and everyone held this work in the highest regard with a strong sense of urgency long before [our organization] was a part of the network. The notion of putting the imperative on paper is helpful, but the team invested in the work is heavily steeped in the gravity of the things that need to happen. Stating an equity imperative was one of the most challenging team discussions we have had. One team member thought that the difficulty arose from not having time as a larger organization to discuss and intentionally interweave equity into our programs."