©2018 Equity Literacy Institute, an EdChange initiative


The Equity Literacy Framework

Equity literacy is a framework for cultivating the knowledge and skills that enable us to be a threat to the existence of inequity in our spheres of influence. More than cultural competence or diversity awareness, equity literacy prepares us to see even subtle ways in which access and opportunity are distributed unfairly across race, class, gender identity, sexual orientation, (dis)ability, language, and other factors.


By recognizing and deeply understanding these conditions, we are prepared to respond to inequity in transformational ways in the immediate term. We also strengthen our ability to foster longer-term change by redressing the bigger institutional and societal conditions that produce the everyday manifestations of inequity.


We built the equity literacy framework after careful consideration of the strengths and limitations of existing approaches for attending to diversity in schools and other organizations and systems. We were particularly concerned with popular approaches like “cultural competence” and their vague focus on “culture.” These approaches mask the inequities that cause educational disparities. Equitable educators should be proficient not only with cultural knowledge, but also with the knowledge and skills to ensure and advocate for equity. 

Four Abilities of Equity Literacy

The knowledge and skills of equity literacy cultivate in individuals and institutions four equity abilities: 

  1. the ability to Recognize even the subtlest biases and inequities,

  2. the ability to Respond skillfully and equitably to biases and inequities in the immediate term,

  3. the ability to Redress biases and inequities by understanding and addressing them at their institutional roots, and

  4. the ability to Sustain equity efforts even in the face of discomfort or resistance.

Equity Literacy Institute workshops, equity coaching, and other services are designed around cultivating these abilities and preparing educators and other professional to cultivate them in one another. 

For a more detailed description of the four abilities of equity literacy, read our free printable handout, "Equity Literacy Definition and Abilities.

Principles of Equity Literacy

An important aspect of equity literacy is its insistence on maximizing the integrity of transformative equity practice. That means not being lulled by popular diversity approaches and frameworks that pose no threat to inequity. The principles of equity literacy help us to ensure we keep a commitment to equity at the center of our work and conversation. Download and share these principles here.

Direct Confrontation Principle: There is no path to equity that does not involve a direct confrontation with inequity.

"Poverty of Culture" Principle: Inequities are primarily power and privilege problems, not primarily cultural problems, so equity requires power and privilege solutions, not just cultural solutions.

Equity Ideology PrincipleEquity is more than a list of simple practical strategies; it is a lens and an ideological commitment.

Prioritization Principle: Each policy and practice decision should be examined through the question, "How will this impact the most marginalized members of our community?"

Redistribution Principle: Equity is about redistributing access and opportunity, so equity initiatives should be about redistributing access and opportunity.

#FixInjusticeNotKids Principle: Equity initiatives focus, not on fixing marginalized people, but instead on fixing the conditions that marginalize people.

One Size Fits Few Principle: Identity-specific equity frameworks (like "the culture of poverty" or group-level "learning styles") almost always are based on stereotypes, not equity.

Evidence-Informed Equity Principle: Equity initiatives should be based on evidence of what works rather than trendiness.