Press Release

How To Cultivate An Inclusive Environment To Help Students Of Color Thrive
New research brief outlines best practices to support students of color attending schools with a majority of white children.

September 6, 2017
Contact: Kimberly Hall
National Coalition on School Diversity

Washington, DC – Today the National Coalition on School Diversity (NCSD) released the research brief, “How to Support the Social-Emotional Well-Being of Students of Color.” The brief includes survey results and recommendations from districts with interdistrict integration programs that are focused on the dual goals of increasing access to educational opportunity and promoting integration.

“Parents, particularly parents of color; often worry about the conditions in racially and economically diverse schools,” stated author Carole Learned-Miller, Doctoral Candidate, Education Leadership at Harvard University. “Merely putting a diverse set of children into schools together is not enough to ensure that they will thrive, both academically and socially.”

In addition to the NCSD member surveys, interviews with staff at programs with over 55 years of experience in inclusion practices yielded four common themes in ensuring the social and emotional well-being of students of color: 

  1. Culturally Competent Educators – Cultural competency and anti-racist professional development training helps educators be more aware of their biases.
  2. Culturally Responsive Teaching Methods and Curriculum – The history and values of different cultural groups should be represented in the instructional materials.
  3. Recruiting, Retaining, and supporting teachers of color – Teachers of color are role models and can help create an environment where students of color are consistently held to high standards.
  4. High expectations – Teachers must convey the belief that students’ cultural differences are assets that will help them achieve at high levels.

“Compared to their peers in segregated schools, students in diverse learning environments show increased academic achievement, an enhanced ability to solve problems, diminished student prejudices and stereotypes; and are more likely to be civically engaged as adults,” stated Gina Chirichigno of NCSD. “However, creating diverse learning environments can come with challenges, particularly for students of color. This brief can help parents, educators, and administrators ensure that their schools have appropriate supports in place to provide the best educational experience for all students.”

Students of color participating in school diversity programs can face isolation, lowered expectations, limited opportunities for extracurricular activities and other challenges that result from institutional racism in schools and society. The programs highlighted in the report, Metropolitan Council for Education Opportunity (METCO), MA; Voluntary Interdistrict Choice Corporation (VICC), St. Louis, MI; the Open Choice (formerly known as “Project Concern” and “Project Choice”), Hartford, CT; and Urban-Suburban Program, Rochester, NY are currently working to create welcoming, supportive, and inclusive environments for all students.

Watch “How to Support Students of Color”

Read the full report

The National Coalition on School Diversity (NCSD) is a network of national civil rights organization, university-based research centers, and state and local coalitions working to expand support for government policies that promote school diversity and reduce racial and economic isolation in elementary and secondary schools. Our work is informed by an advisory panel of scholars and academic researchers whose work relates to issues of equity, diversity, and desegregation/integration.


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