All students — regardless of their skin color, families’ income, language spoken at home, or how they identify — should have access to high-quality learning opportunities that allow them to achieve educational excellence. This is educational justice. And each day, we work to find solutions to reach it, preschool through college.

Through our research, policy analysis, and advocacy, we support efforts that:

  • Promote rich, engaging high-quality learning opportunities
  • Increase college access and completion
  • Engage diverse communities to advocate for education equity
  • Increase political and public will to act on equity issues

Our approach to this work is steeped in the larger social justice movement. It is informed by our theory of change, which includes four main components — all building on each other, with the aim of advancing positive outcomes that improve the lives of those who are historically underserved, including Black students, Latino students, and students from low-income families.

In these reports, we showcase the work we, along with our partners, are doing. With your continued support and partnership, we are building a movement toward educational justice.

Enjoy the updates!

Theory of Change

Your Spark

Can Become a Flame and Change


June 2022

At this precarious moment, many Americans can’t safely send their children to school, shop at the grocery store, go to their place of worship, visit the hospital, or even venture out into their own neighborhoods without facing the threat of violence. At the same time, we are witnessing a dramatic assault on civil rights and civil liberties in the form of voter suppression and gerrymandering, anti-LGBTQ legislation, book bans, and efforts to prohibit the accurate teaching of history in the classroom. Indeed, attempts to unravel the American ideals of justice, democracy, fairness, and equity seem to be intensifying.

Despite what’s happening now, we must keep working for a more just, fair, and safe nation. Remember the words of civil rights leader E.D. Nixon, who when faced with similar obstacles in the 1950s, urged fellow activists to remain undaunted: “Your spark can become a flame and change everything.” It is with that same urgency that we, and our partners, seek to spark change. Join us.


Below are a few highlights of our latest work

A Conversation on The Criminalization of Black Children

This school year, there’s been a rise in school suspensions, expulsions, and other disciplinary actions across the country. To shine a light on this urgent problem and elevate potential solutions, we, in partnership with NAACP Legal Defense Fund, co-hosted an event on “The Criminalization of Black Children.” The discussion was led by Erica L. Green, a correspondent at The New York Times, and Kristin Henning, author of The Rage of Innocence: How America Criminalizes Black Youth.

Advancing Advanced Placement Opportunities for Underserved Youth

As part of Ed Trust’s ongoing efforts to highlight opportunity gaps, we released “Shut out: Why Black and Latino Students Are Under-Enrolled in AP STEM Courses” in April, along with an accompanying video. This report notes that while many students of color and students from low-income backgrounds aspire to go to college and say that STEM courses are their favorite subjects, these students continue to be excluded from AP STEM courses, which are crucial learning opportunities for aspiring scientists.

Removing Unjust Barriers That Keep Current and Formerly Incarcerated Individuals From Accessing a Higher Education

More than 2 million people are incarcerated in the United States. That is the highest incarceration rate in the world. National and state leaders have repeatedly pledged to reform the criminal justice system, but anyone seeking re-entry services can tell you that those “reforms” fall short, in large part because those closest to the problem aren’t driving the solutions.

Beyond the Ban,” a collection of state policy toolkits informed by Ed Trust’s inaugural cohort of Justice Fellows seeks to change that. Released in March, the toolkits, were compiled by Ed Trust researchers and Justice Fellows conducting comprehensive policy scans of eight states with the highest incarcerated populations — California, Illinois, Louisiana, New York, Michigan, Ohio, Tennessee, and Texas — and identified barriers to higher education access and re-entry in each state.

The scans note that access to education programs and wraparound support services is critical to providing returning citizens the tools they need to successfully reintegrate into society and help reduce recidivism, housing insecurity, and unemployment rates.

Pressing for Student Debt Relief for Black Women Borrowers

Forty-five million Americans collectively owe $1.7 trillion in student loan debt, and women hold nearly two-thirds of it. But because of the gender pay gap, women are more likely than men to have trouble paying off their debt. Black borrowers are most negatively affected by student loans, in large part because of systemic racism, the inequitable distribution of wealth, a stratified labor market, and rising college costs. Because Black women exist at the intersection of two marginalized identities and experience sexism and racism at the same time, they make less money and often need to borrow more to cover the cost of attendance, and struggle significantly with repayment. To call attention to this important issue, we issued a brief this reporting period called, “How Black Women Experience Student Debt.” The release of the brief comes as cries for student debt relief, cancellation, and reasonable solutions to the student loan debt crises are reaching a fever pitch.

“How do you tell someone that they cannot reach for their dream or their highest potential because they can’t afford it? You’re going to do what you need to do to sit in that room and that class, even it means being burdened with the consequences of what you took out to get where
you’re at.”

– Belle, who borrowed $171,000

Revved Up

And Ready To Go!

February 2022

As the nation wraps up its celebration of Black History Month, we are reminded that the bold actions of a few determined activists sparked change across the nation and, ultimately, the world. We are inspired by the now well-known story of an obscure preacher from Atlanta, who led the civil rights movement in the ’50s and ’60s and whose relentless push for justice brought about a racial reckoning in America. And by the story of a fearless woman who, by refusing to give up her seat on a Montgomery, Alabama, bus in 1955, triggered a full-on boycott that lasted more than a year. Their stories are familiar and often repeated during Black History Month. But let’s also remember the little-known activists behind the Black Women’s Club Movement, the Niagara Movement, the Orangeburg Massacre, and the Red Summer of 1919. Lawmakers in 37 states don’t want students to learn about these moments in American history. Yet and still, these hidden heroes’ stories need to be told so that today’s students can learn from the struggles and triumphs of people of color and, work to forge a more perfect union.

It’s a shame that some people want U.S. history to be suppressed or ignored, but we here at The Education Trust believe that, along with our partners, we can create the kind of change our country needs — with honesty, empathy, and justice for all.

Below are a few highlights of our latest work

Is Your State Prioritizing Students' Social, Emotional, & Academic Development?

As the pandemic persists, many educators report that students are experiencing academic and behavioral challenges resulting in an increase in school suspensions, expulsions, and other disciplinary actions that are disproportionately aimed at Black,
Latino, and students from families with low-incomes.

Ed Trust has built a tool analyzing and rating all 50-states and the District of Columbia in five areas that support students’ social, emotional, and academic development:


Rigorous & Culturally Sustaining Curriculum

Professional Development

Student, Family, & Community Engagement

Wraparound Services

FundEd: A Tool to Help Understand Who is Getting State Funding Right

Policymakers are interested in examining funding structures in other states and often ask: Who is doing it right? The answer is that no state is doing it right — at least, not entirely. But every state has at least one strong policy element, and there are exemplary states in every key area of school funding policy.

FundEd is a database and tool that aggregates information about K-12 education funding policies in each state. Information related to common elements of state funding formulas is organized by core area and displayed on national maps and state pages, so users can make state-to-state comparisons. The database includes detailed snapshots of state policies related to core equity issues, such as access to local tax dollars; state support for student groups, including students from low-income backgrounds, those learning English, and those with disabilities; and consideration of community characteristics such as rurality and the concentrated poverty rate.

Unfinished Learning Workshop Series for Advocates & Educators

A series of 7 workshops to help advocates and educators understand the depth of unfinished learning problem and what might be done to solve it.

Watch a recording of the sessions held so far and sign up to receive updates on how to register for the next one.

Tipping Point

Ensuring Education Equity & Justice in a Deeply Divided Nation

October 2021

Should children wear masks in school? Should educators teach students about systemic racism and America’s troubled history with race and inequality? How should COVID-19 recovery money be used to address unfinished learning? How should students’ social-emotional needs be addressed?

Issues affecting students’ lives are being hotly debated, and there has been a concerning spike in harassment and threats against school board members. The nation is at a tipping point, and it is important that our leaders get the answers to these questions right. The health and academic well-being of our students depend on it.

We, at The Education Trust, continue to boldly speak out for what is right for students, particularly those who are continually and deeply underserved. Our mission is to ensure that every student has the resources they need to reach their full academic potential and to be equipped to live the life of their choosing. We are activating our networks and working alongside our partners on many fronts. If we act together, we can win together. And win, we must.

Below are a few highlights of our latest work

Ed Trust Expands State Work to Washington

Gray Sterling, a Black and Mexican, first-generation, former low-income student,
is our new assistant director who is working to advance equity and justice for underserved youth in Washington State. Gray has dedicated nearly 10 years to promoting educational justice, and economic opportunity for communities of color through strategic policy interventions and systems change. Read more about him in this profile on The Equity Line.

A strong and diverse teacher workforce is more crucial for students than ever, particularly as school and district leaders develop plans to address unfinished learning and help students catch up after the disruptions caused by COVID-19.

One underutilized strategy for increasing the racial diversity of the teacher workforce is to recruit and prepare those who have experience working in after-school or out-of-school time programs to enter the teaching profession.

Ed Trust examined the experiences of current and former teacher candidates of color with after-school or out-of-school time experience to gain insights on ho teacher preparation programs and state policymakers can entice more of them into the teaching profession and better support them for success.

Pushing to Teach Students the Truth About American History

Some states — Texas and Tennessee among them — have passed legislation dictating what can and can’t be taught in K-12 schools, in some cases explicitly banning critical race theory (which is not taught in K-12 schools).

This summer, we launched a new podcast, Ed Trusted, featuring historians, social studies teachers, psychologists, attorneys, and scholars to understand what and who is behind the recent efforts to ban so-called “critical race theory”, and the troubling implications of these efforts to deny students a quality education.

Ed Trust also joined the Learn From History coalition, a band of educators, schools systems leaders, and advocates, working to counter the efforts to outlaw teaching the hard truths of U.S. history

Jim Crow Debt: How Black Borrowers Experience Student Loans

In a survey of nearly 1,300 Black borrowers and in-depth interviews with 100 respondents, to hear directly from borrowers about the impact of student loan debt and what solutions they want.

See the 4 major findings below, and check out the full report for more detail and more from borrowers.

On October 13-14, we hosted our biennial bootcamp — Equity Matters: Reimagine. Rethink. Rebuild. — which featured more than 24 breakout sessions on higher education, K-12, early childhood education, communication skills, and other policy areas. This two day virtual event provided tools and resources to advocates, community leaders, families, policymakers, and practitioners and a space to connect with others who are part of the movement to advance educational justice.

Catch up on all the great sessions at