News Release – New Report: Most Comprehensive Study Ever Done on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in the Education Sector 

July 25, 2017

“Unrealized Impact” shows education organizations still have much to do, despite a strong commitment to making progress.

(Oakland, CA, July 25, 2017) – NewSchools Venture Fund today released “Unrealized Impact,” a groundbreaking study on diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) in the education sector. This study is based on input from more than 200 education organizations and nearly 5,000 individuals, and was authored by Xiomara Padamsee, CEO of Promise54, and Becky Crowe, Senior Adviser, Bellwether Education Partners.

Among the key findings in the report, DEI practices have a positive impact on staff recruitment, retention and overall favorability. Among Advanced DEI Organizations[1], 88 percent of staff promote[2] the organization, and 61 percent of staff – regardless of race – reported that they intend to stay in their organizations for the next three years. Less than half of respondent organizations have formal DEI policies within their own organizations, yet every organization that participated is focused on DEI to some extent. Twenty-four percent of all staff respondents report experiencing discrimination in the workplace, and staff of color were 50 percent more likely to report such an experience.

The percentage of Black and Latino leaders in American education, when compared to Black and Latino PreK-12 students, remains unbalanced. This is especially troubling given changing student demographics. In our sample, Whites represent 24 percent of students, 49 percent of staff at education organizations, 64 percent of leadership, and 74 percent of CEOs. Blacks and Latinos represent 61 percent of students, 41 percent of staff at education organizations, 24 percent of leadership and 17 percent of CEOs.

“As American students have become a more racially diverse population over the past decade, there is a stark difference between those who are doing the work and the racial demographics of the communities we serve,” said Frances Messano, managing partner, NewSchools Venture Fund. “Education leaders are increasingly committed to doing better on diversity, equity and inclusion, but this study shows many organizations aren’t sure where to even begin. The promising practices outlined in this report will give leaders a place to start.”

NewSchools joined four other K-12 education funders – Chan Zuckerberg InitiativeCharles and Lynn Schusterman Family FoundationRaikes Foundation, and Walton Family Foundation – in underwriting the report, which is intended to deepen understanding of the current state of DEI in education, identify promising practices and help to fuel action.

“The study’s sponsors and authors came to this work with a perspective: that diverse, equitable, and inclusive organizations are stronger and therefore better able to reach their goals” said Padamsee. “We believe they are more equipped to support and retain adult staff so that they can thrive professionally and create more durable and authentic relationships with parents and community members, and ultimately, educate children more effectively,” she added.

“This study clearly showed that education organizations need to advance diversity, equity and inclusion at the same time,” said Crowe. “Although the terms may seem similar or even interchangeable, each is distinct and important. Organizations often start with a focus on diversity and think that’s enough.  Diversity, without a focus on inclusion (belonging), and equity (fairness), leaves impact on the table.”

Messano shared that “this study was designed to determine how close or far we are as a sector to achieving these outcomes, and to surface gaps and promising practices in the sector. We hope this research empowers others to take meaningful action, hold one another accountable, and collectively advance progress toward DEI.”

In addition to providing demographic information, the study includes self-reported experiences from nearly 5,000 education staff members. Survey participants are all anonymous, and findings are not disaggregated by organization. The response rate for the study was approximately 10 percent. Leaders of more than 2,000 organizations were invited participate, using multiple channels. Researchers received responses from 213 organizations.

Other key findings:

  • Staff of all races are three times more likely to recommend organizations that are diverse, equitable and inclusive to a friend.
  • When asked to select among seven options for motivation to pursue DEI work, there was no option that emerged as most popular across all types of organizations.
  • When an organization selected at least three motivations of any kind, it was correlated with deeper implementation of DEI practices, such as having a formal DEI policy, and integrating DEI into their operational strategy.

The full report is available at

About NewSchools

NewSchools Venture Fund is a national nonprofit that supports and invests in promising entrepreneurs and teams of educators who want to reimagine learning. We help them accomplish their missions to achieve outstanding results for the schools, students, and educators they serve. We are committed to helping students graduate high school prepared and inspired to achieve their most ambitious dreams and plans. Through our investments, management assistance, network building, and thought leadership, NewSchools helps to reimagine PreK-12 education.

About Promise54

Promise54 works with education organizations to cultivate and maintain healthy, equitable, and inclusive workplaces where a diverse set of staff can thrive, achieving transformational results for students.  To do so, we support organizations to diversify their staff, increase staff performance, improve staff sense of belonging and fairness, and strengthen retention. We catalyze a community of leaders committed to disrupting inequity across the field and equip them with data and insights to drive decisions and investments.

About Bellwether

Bellwether Education Partners is a national, nonpartisan nonprofit of more than 50 professionals dedicated to helping education organizations become more effective in their work and achieve dramatic results, especially for the most underserved students. To do so, we work in the public, private, and nonprofit sectors and provide a unique combination of exceptional thinking, talent, and hands-on strategic support.


[1] Advanced DEI Organization are those in this sample with more than 30 percent racial diversity on the leadership team, and staff ratings on “inclusion” in the top-third of the sample.

[2] The researchers created a special “promoter” index to measure staff members’ sense of affiliation with and willingness to advocate for their organization, comprising a high score on intent to stay and/or willingness to recommend the organization to a friend.