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$8.25M grant to fund new regional Equity Assistance Center within IU School of Education at IUPUI

November 15, 2016

The U.S. Department of Education is awarding $8.25 million over five years to an Equity Assistance Center within the IU School of Education at IUPUI, one of four regional Equity Assistance Centers providing training and technical assistance on educational issues related to race, gender, religion and national origin.

The Midwest and Plains Equity Assistance Center will serve Indiana and 12 other states: Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota and Wisconsin.

The center will support schools and communities in those states in creating equitable educational opportunities for all students. Authorized and funded under Title IV of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the four Equity Assistance Centers will:

  • Disseminate information on successful education practices and legal requirements related to nondiscrimination on the basis of race, sex, national origin and religion in educational programs.
  • Provide training designed to develop educators' skills in specific areas such as identification of race and sex bias in instructional materials.
  • Offer technical assistance in the identification and selection of appropriate educational programs to meet the needs of limited-English proficient students.
  • Disseminate information regarding effective methods of coping with special educational problems occasioned by desegregation.
  • Instruct school officials on how to prevent sexual harassment.

The centers also provide resources and training to combat issues such as hate crimes, implicit bias, racial prejudice and bullying.

All four centers are run by organizations with demonstrated expertise in providing effective technical assistance on strategies to ensure equitable access to effective teachers and leaders, particularly for students from low-income families and students of color, across and within schools and districts.

The Midwest and Plains Equity Assistance Center will operate under the umbrella of the School of Education's existing Great Lakes Equity Center. That center was established five years ago as one of 10 regional Equity Assistance Centers funded by the U.S. Department of Education. Although that center's funding cycle is complete, the name and spirit of the work will live on in the form of a School of Education research and service center to support educational equity, civil rights and systemic school reform nationally.

Kathleen King Thorius, executive director of the Great Lakes Equity Center and an associate professor of special and urban education, will serve as executive director and principal investigator of the new Midwest and Plains Equity Assistance Center. Seena Skelton will serve as director of operations. Thorius led the development of the grant proposal that was funded by the Department of Education, along with Skelton and other Great Lakes Equity Center staff. Four graduate research assistants from the School of Education's Urban Education Studies Ph.D. program are funded for five years through the new center, with full tuition coverage and a modest stipend.

Robin Hughes, executive associate dean of the School of Education, said children in the 13-state region served by the Midwest and Plains Equity Assistance Center are in good hands.

"It would be difficult to find a group of people more academically talented and socially and racially conscious than Kathleen Thorius and her Great Lakes Equity Center colleagues," Hughes said. "Kathleen cares immensely about people in general and young folks in particular."

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