Racial Equity in Adult Education Grant Update – Part 1

Racial Equity in Adult Education Grant Update – Part 1

The topic of ‘equity’ is becoming more and more prevalent. Simply put, equity is the idea of working towards eliminating disparities of outcomes between different groups. Equity is different from equality; the latter means each individual or group of people is given the same resources or opportunities, but it doesn’t take into consideration that even with those opportunities, different students will have different needs in order to succeed. Equity recognizes that each person has different circumstances and allocates resources and support accordingly, all to reach more equal and fair outcomes. Essentially, equity takes equality a step further.

Equity and sadly, inequity, is seen in all areas of life, especially in our education system. The Racial Equity in Adult Education Competitive Grant is seeking to identify and alleviate current inequities within Adult Basic Education, to benefit ALL students that we serve.

The grant consists of 5 large goals:

  1. Conduct a Racial Equity Analysis
  2. Make recommendations of action based on data from analyses
  3. Convene advisory groups to support grant activities
  4. Coordinate PD efforts
  5. Communicate PD efforts

With the first year of the grant ending in June, the Racial Equity Team has made substantial progress in achieving these goals.

Meet the Racial Equity Team

The grant is led by Program Manager of Southwest Adult Basic Education and Grantee, See Moua-Leske and supported by Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Assistant, Addy Wolbaum, and Consultant, Dr. Rose Wan-Mui Chu, Plum Blossom Strategy, LLC.

See Moua-Leske

See has many roles alongside being the Program Manager of SW ABE. Her passion for equity-related work is spread across multiple organizations, committees and learning experiences. Currently, she is the President of Minnesota’s Literacy Action Network (LAN). LAN is a statewide advocacy group whose mission is to develop, improve, and expand literacy services by coordinating public policy advocacy, fostering statewide collaboration, facilitating professional development and supporting quality Adult Basic Education.

See serves on the City of Marshall’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Commission, representing Southwest ABE. She continuously fulfills the Commission’s dedication of fostering relationships and advocating for underrepresented populations. See also serves on the planning committee for Cultures on the Prairie, in which she proceeds to better her community by amplifying voices of historically marginalized communities. Cultures on the Prairie is a joint effort between Southwest Minnesota State University, the City of Marshall, the Private Industry Council, and SW ABE to provide an educational opportunity to the community, local businesses and organizations to broaden their knowledge of the diverse cultures in southwest Minnesota. Alongside the DEI Commission and Cultures on the Prairie committee, she is a cultural representative for the Southwest Regional Development Commission, bringing her expertise to enhance regional opportunity.

While carrying out these multiple roles, See also takes time to personally stay educated on diversity and equity topics. Recently she participated in the Antiracist Praxis Study Circle with ATLAS. This was a 5 week, 10 hour, learning workshop in which the group explored how to implement antiracist practices into adult English classrooms. She also attended sessions of the City of Marshall’s Equity Journey which was led by the Equity Innovation Center of Excellence from the YMCA of the North. Currently See is participating in the Philadelphia Federal Reserve Bank’s ‘Reinventing Our Communities’ (ROC) Cohort Program. This program encourages strong local economies by helping communities across the U.S. address structural racism and barriers to opportunity. It is evident that See is passionate about equity, and she continues to pursue her passion through her devotion to the Racial Equity Grant.

Addy Wolbaum

Addy identifies as a ‘social justice warrior.’ She is currently studying Political Science, with a strong passion for examining how systems impact marginalized communities. Addy is the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Assistant for the City of Marshall. She has played a large role in pursuing the City of Marshall’s goals of creating and sustaining a more equitable and inclusive community. She also has dedicated much of time to researching topics related to diversity, equity and inclusion, such as microaggressions, stereotypes, tokenism, bias, etc. She has presented this information at Cultures on the Prairie and has facilitated a training session with the DEI Commission. She continues to share and present this information to organizations and businesses near or within Marshall. Addy actively works on educating herself to fulfill her job’s duties. She participated in the Antiracist Praxis Study Circle last fall and also organized and participated in the City of Marshall’s Equity Journey training sessions. Addy’s love for her community and state and her understanding of systemic impact

Dr. Rose Wan-Mui Chu

Rose has dedicated her professional life to the tireless pursuit of education equity and excellence for children and youth. She brings almost 30 years of rich and diverse cross-sector experiences. She is an experienced educator and consultant, a fierce advocate for elevating, demystifying and strengthening the teaching profession. Rose has a diverse professional portfolio: such as designing and facilitating community engagement activities or Minnesota state-approved Cultural Competency Training for educators, supporting community based organizations in youth development efforts, and being a thought partner for organizational leaders on systems thinking and systems change is being put to good use in her role in this grant.

She is professor emerita at Metropolitan State University, where she has previously been a faculty and department chair at the Urban Teacher Program. Rose also held executive leadership positions as Assistant Commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Education, and as interim Dean of Urban Education at Metropolitan State University. Rose was elected to the school board of the Roseville Area Schools and began her first term in January 2020. She was recently awarded the 2022 Bush Fellowship. Rose’s diverse experiences have proven to be extremely beneficial to this grant.

Altogether, See, Addy, Rose makeup the Racial Equity Team. Their combined passion, enthusiasm, and motivation shines in this grant work.

Stay tuned for parts 2 & 3 where past and future grant activities will be discussed!

Image credit:

Equity vs Equality” by MN Pollution Control Agency is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0.

Addy Wolbaum, DEI Assistant Southwest ABE