Our Commitment to Equity
At ESG, we believe in the power of education to lift both individuals and communities to greater opportunity, economic mobility, and prosperity. Education leaders and advocates have a responsibility to ensure that education creates the conditions for a more just and equitable society. We are doubling down on our commitment to drive quality education and training opportunities to those who have been traditionally underserved.
Diversity is our strength. As a team, we embrace a strong commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, and ongoing learning. We will not relent in our pursuit of social justice and a level playing field for students who have been underserved due to their race, ethnicity, gender, or socioeconomic background.
Impacting Equity Through Our Work
The issue areas at the core of ESG’s mission have a direct impact on educational and economic equity. We focus our activities, technical assistance, and thought leadership on addressing these major challenges facing students of color and from low socioeconomic backgrounds.
1. Attainment: Recognizing that postsecondary credentials are increasingly essential for success in today’s economy, most states have set ambitious higher education attainment goals. These goals cannot be met—nor will a state’s economy be successful in the long term— without intentional efforts to close longstanding gaps in postsecondary attainment that harm people of color and from low socioeconomic backgrounds. We work with state and institutional leaders to develop and implement strategies that increase rates of attainment for these students.
2. Access to Quality Pathways: While possessing a postsecondary degree or credential is crucial for long-term economic mobility, it’s even more important to possess a credential that holds value in the labor market. Too often, people of color, women, and those from low-income backgrounds are disproportionately placed in pathways that lead to low-value credentials, leaving them saddled with debt and diminished employment opportunities. We support systems and states in their efforts to build more robust pathways that enable students to earn in-demand credentials and successfully transition into the workforce.
3. Transition points: The road to economic mobility begins long before college graduation. Currently, too many students of color and from low socioeconomic backgrounds are left behind at key transition points in their K-12 education. At more than 7,000 high schools across the U.S., these individuals have less than a 50 percent chance of enrolling in higher education directly after high school graduation. Our work is focused on developing and scaling strategies to support students through key transition points from middle and high school to and through postsecondary education, including targeted efforts to help students of color and from low-income families succeed.
4. Data transparency: Educators, policymakers, and other leaders need good data to inform effective decisionmaking and to direct energy and resources where they’re needed most. Without timely, accurate, disaggregated data, we cannot hope to understand the equity problems we face — let alone solve them. We support states, districts, and partners in developing data capacity and implementing best data practices in their efforts to close gaps and better support underserved students.
5. Diverse leadership: Closing equity gaps requires sustained leadership and input from diverse communities. Representative voices—particularly in leadership roles—matter for progress. We are committed to building the capacity of education and workforce leaders and lifting up new leaders that bring diverse perspectives to the field.
Our commitment in action
A commitment to advancing equity is meaningless without concrete action. Below are examples of how we are building an intentional and explicit focus on equity into our engagements.
Shining a Light on Inequitable Access to Quality Pathways in Baltimore and Montgomery County
In 2019, Education Strategy Group completed robust assessments of the career preparation systems within both Baltimore City Schools and Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) with a strong focus on analyzing the quality of their career pathway offerings. Recognizing that a shifting labor market means that all students need some amount of postsecondary education or training to achieve economic success, both school systems were admirably committed to ensuring that students had access to a variety of high-quality pathways that set them on the road to postsecondary opportunities and, ultimately, to good jobs. The results of ESG’s analyses were illuminating, and at times, alarming — particularly in terms of equitable access and outcomes.Learn More
Detroit Drive Degrees: Tackling Racial Inequities to Meet Regional Attainment Goals
In early 2020, Education Strategy Group kicked off work to support Detroit Drives Degrees (D3), an initiative of the Detroit Regional Chamber that aims to meet two critical goals by 2030 1) Increase the number of individuals with a postsecondary degree or credential to 60 percent and 2) Close the racial equity gap by half. The Detroit effort was led by a leadership council made up of prominent education, business, government, non-profit, and philanthropic leaders whose collective weight had the potential to transform the region’s approach to aligning the education and workforce agendas.Learn More
The Launch Years Initiative: Reimagining Mathematics for Equitable Outcomes
In 2018, Education Strategy Group became a collaborating partner on the Launch Years Initiative, which seeks to reimagine and better align mathematics courses and expectations from high school to postsecondary education to the workforce. The initiative is explicitly centered on improving outcomes for Black, Latinx, and Native American students as well as students from low-income backgrounds. Mathematics—specifically traditional Algebra II coursework—is too often a barrier to postsecondary success for these populations.Learn More