Learning for Equity Network

Learning for Equity Network 

The Learning for Equity Network (LEN) is a new initiative that brings BIPOC families, teachers, and school leaders together to build equitable learning environments for students in local elementary schools. The initiative focuses on changing math instruction in classrooms and expanding family leadership by using equity-centered design processes that interconnect academic acceleration with the knowledge and expertise of communities.  Network activities include: 

  • Organizing ongoing design sessions with family leaders from six local elementary schools, including community learning circles and math talk and play sessions.
  • Drawing upon feedback from families, organizing teacher leaders to develop and implement math strategies, including teacher to teacher classroom learning labs and hands-on just-in-time practice.
  • Convening a "guide team" of systems leaders to learn about family and teacher's experience in the network and influence district, city, housing, university, and other systems.

Sundborg Center for Community Engagement (CCE) staff, Seattle Public Schools (SPS) staff, and community partners serve as the backbone for the network. The work is made possible through a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.   

Email learningnetwork@seattleu.edu.  Or visit www.learningforequity.org for more information. 

The Learning for Equity Network was formerly referred to as the Learning Improvement Network or LIN.


From the 2020 CCE Annual Report


In summer 2019, with support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Center for Community Engagement and the Seattle U College of Education began the development of a network of elementary schools to address educational equity in central Seattle. Building upon the Center’s strong track record at Bailey Gatzert Elementary School, Michelle Cruver, the new director of this effort began outreach to five additional local elementary school communities, including Leschi, Lowell, Madrona, Marshall and Muir.

Drawing on Professor john a. powell’s concept of othering and belonging, Cruver notes that the process of developing the network is “not an invitation to a house, it’s a house we build together for educational equity. In our effort, the builders are families, community partners and those working in schools.”

As the new network was about to launch, the COVID-19 health crisis led to school closures and major challenges for central Seattle families. Responding to the crisis, Center staff pursued new strategies to meet families’ emerging needs. Each school received $17,500 for COVID response summer learning activities. Principals of the six schools also engaged in interviews with an external evaluator, which highlighted the important role that families play in helping students progress, particularly during the pandemic. One principal noted, “The ultimate goal here is to increase student achievement, increase support for parents and increase support for teachers. To narrow the gap between the big three: home, school and community. How can we better move in unison as a team, as one?”

The COVID crisis along with the movement for Black lives highlights the already critical importance that community partners have in pursuing educational equity. With this recognition, the Center focused the investment in the amplification of local community-based projects that provide culturally sustaining programming to youth and families. An external community review panel selected 12 local organizations to provide a web of support to families during remote instruction and as an ongoing strategy to strengthen the home-to-school connection.

The organizations leading these efforts include:

  • Africatown Center for Education & Innovation
  • The Austin Foundation
  • Black Star Line: African Centered Family Educational Collective
  • Brainy Babe Tutoring
  • Cultivating the Genius of Black Children
  • Engageable Designs
  • Gatzert Family Partners
  • Look Listen and Learn
  • Reclaiming our Greatness
  • Seattle Music Partners
  • SouthEndStories and the American History Traveling Museum
  • South King County Discipline Coalition

The Center for Community Engagement understands that amplifying the work of local community organizations and investing in local schools are only a small contribution to the larger effort of fostering vibrant educational experiences for Black, Indigenous, Latino/a, Asian Pacific Islander, immigrant and refugee families in central Seattle. The emerging network is part of what we hope will be a sustained anti-racist commitment toward educational justice. We look forward to sharing more of the network’s stories as we listen, plan and act together for more equitable learning.