About Equity Literacy

Take Our Free Self-Paced Mini-Courses for a Primer on Equity and Equity Literacy

The Equity Literacy Framework

Equity literacy is a comprehensive approach for creating and sustaining equitable schools. The foundations of equity literacy are (1) a commitment to deepening individual and institutional understandings of how equity and inequity operate in organizations and societies, and (2) the individual and institutional knowledge, skills, and will to vigilantly identify inequities, eliminate inequities, and actively cultivating equity. At the individual level, when we embrace equity literacy we learn to become a threat to the existence of inequity and an active cultivator of equity in our spheres of influence. 


More than cultural competence or diversity awareness, equity literacy prepares us to recognize even the subtlest forms of bias, inequity, and oppression related to race, class, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, (dis)ability, language, religion, immigration status, and other factors. Through equity literacy we prepare ourselves to understand how experience disparities, not just quantitatively measured outcome disparities, affect student access to equitable educational opportunity free of bias, inequity, and discrimination. 


According to the equity literacy framework, equity is not merely about giving every student what they need to succeed in an individual sense. This way of imagining equity obscures our responsibility to address institutional bias and inequity. Instead, equity is a process through which we ensure that policies, practices, institutional cultures, and ideologies are actively equitable, purposefully attending to the interests of the students and families to whose interests we have attended inequitably. By recognizing and deeply understanding these sorts of disparities, we prepare ourselves to respondeffectively to inequity in the immediate term. We also strengthen our abilities to foster long-term change by redressing institutional and societal conditions that create everyday manifestations of inequity. 

Five 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, 

  4. the ability to actively cultivate equity by applying an equity commitment to every decision, and

  5. 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.

©2020 Equity Literacy Institute, an EdChange initiative