This in-person professional learning series helps K-12 educators and leaders more effectively lead on racial equity. Academy participants are introduced to content and strategies they have likely never learned anywhere else in their educational or professional upbringings. Over six months, we offer six daylong sessions either on the USC campus in Los Angeles or in the city/town where the participating district is located. Each monthly session is highly engaging and focuses on a specific racial equity topic.

Academy instructors are nationally-known experts who consult with numerous K-12 schools and districts. Their sessions focus mostly on strategies and practical approaches. Instructors use contemporary cases of racial problems in K-12 schools. Emphasis is placed on learning from equity gains and racial missteps that have recently occurred elsewhere; learning how to get ahead of situations and reducing the risk of crisis; and learning actionable racial equity leadership strategies. Participants also receive numerous tools and resources.

In addition to the six learning sessions, a portion of each day is spent working on strategic racial equity projects that are intended to officially launch at the conclusion of the six-month Academy. Participants are given new tools and worksheets each month focused on the following six components of their project plans: design, implementation, resourcing, accountability, assessment, and sustainability. Staff members from the Center give feedback on each project design. Beyond the six months, we systematically track and assess the progress of each project. Assessment and support from the Center continue for 18 months.


This four-phase project focuses on understanding and documenting environmental factors and cultural practices that facilitate and undermine African American student success across 16 elementary, middle, and high schools in the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD). These schools are part of the Humanizing Education for Equitable Transformation (HEET) community of schools, a multiyear LAUSD Local District West initiative that focuses on improving African American students’ educational experiences and outcomes.

Phase 1 of our project involves quantitative analyses of each school’s performance on eight racial equity indicators. In Phase 2, a team of researchers from our center will spend 35 hours conducting observations in each of the 16 HEET schools (560 total hours). In Phase 3, interviews will be conducted with 400-500 students, parents and family members, teachers, and school leaders. In the final phase, teams of five educators and leaders from each of the 16 HEET schools (80 total participants) will participate in a six-month Racial Equity Leadership Academy. Phases 1-3 will inform the Academy curriculum and the strategic racial equity projects that each school team designs.


We customize high-quality, practically useful professional learning experiences for K-12 schools, districts, and charter networks across the U.S. We can deliver these virtually or travel to facilitate them in person. Sessions can vary in duration – we offer 60- and 90-minute, half-day, full-day, and multi-day options. Superintendents, principals, and other senior-level leaders can choose a topic from the list of sessions we offer in our K-12 Racial Equity Leadership Academies (see above). We can also develop equity-focused sessions on topics beyond those taught in our Academies. Experts from our center, as well as instructors who teach for us in the Academies, design and deliver these highly engaging professional learning sessions.


► John Pascarella, Ph.D: pascarel@usc.edu

► Shaun Harper: sharper@usc.edu