Research shows that racial and cultural components are critical considerations when designing solutions to address gaps in educational achievement. Social sector leaders are implementing strategies that address racial inequities in our education system and that leverage culturally relevant practices to support children, families, and educators.

In this spark session, participants will hear from members of the Alliance for Strong Families and Communities network to learn how they have centered race and culture in their approaches to improving educational outcomes for youth in their communities. Panelists will share the evidence and contextual factors that stimulated their efforts to create culturally responsive learning environments in ways that are achieving impact. Through moderated dialogue and Q&A, panelists and participants will engage in discussion around opportunities for community-based human services organizations to mitigate the effects of the institutional racism and individual biases plaguing the U.S. education system.

Learning Objectives

  • Equitable and culturally-competent concepts and practices that can be applied to any learning environment
  • Collaboration opportunities that support successful implementation of equity-based initiatives
  • Resources in the network that can elevate and prioritize equity in their work

Panelists: Forrest Moore, policy fellow, Chapin Hall; Macheo Payne, senior director of equity and educational initiatives, Lincoln; and Justina Schlund, executive director of the Office of Social & Emotional Learning, Chicago Public Schools

Facilitator: Damon Carson, executive vice president and general manager of education, instruction and operations, Neighborhood House Association, and chair, National Head Start Association

Forrest Moore
Policy Fellow
Chapin Hall 

Forrest Moore is a policy fellow at Chapin Hall. With over 20 years’ experience serving youth and their families, Moore provides strategic guidance on research and evidence use to youth-servicing agencies across a multitude of issues. Moore has extensive expertise working with public and private decision makers, especially in community-based agencies.

Prior to joining Chapin Hall, Moore most recently was an independent consultant focused on research, strategic planning, and project management for multiple youth serving organizations. Moore has also served as the executive vice president for America’s Promise Alliance. He represented the organization as the Education liaison to the U.S. Department of Education, acting as a thought leader and advisor to the partnership on education-related issues. Moore also co-created the Research and Practice Summit, a partnership between the Center for Promise and Stanford University, where he developed an agenda with the goal of enabling effective research and community practices. 

Moore has a doctorate in research methodology from Loyola University in Chicago and a bachelor’s in organizational leadership from the Knoy School of Technology at Purdue University.

Macheo Payne
Senior Director of Equity and Educational Initiatives

Macheo Payne is the senior director of equity and educational initiatives at Lincoln. He has been at Lincoln for nine years, working as a director of a mental health program at an alternative school in east Oakland, California. He later became an assistant professor of social work at Cal State University East Bay.

Payne’s expertise combines behavioral and therapeutic approaches to improve school discipline practices. As a skilled trainer, he has presented nationally on the intersection of trauma, poverty, and racial bias in educational systems. Currently, he sits on a statewide committee, convened by the California chief justice, to address discipline and attendance issues in schools. Payne is the executive director of the Oakland Freedom Schools and the Camp Sweeney Freedom School summer reading programs, which improve reading level and racial self-esteem of black and brown children.

Justina Schlund
Executive Director of the Office of Social & Emotional Learning 
Chicago Public Schools

Justina Schlund is the executive director of Chicago Public Schools' Office of Social & Emotional Learning and is spearheading a district-wide initiative to address racial inequities in student opportunities and outcomes. During her five years at Chicago Public Schools, she also led efforts to overhaul the student code of conduct and reduce racial disproprtionality in punitive disciplinary practices, resulting in a 70 percent reduction in out of school suspensions. 

Schlund’s previous experience includes education reporting, teaching, Head Start administration, training educators in rural China, and state-level policy analysis. 

Damon Carson
Executive Vice President and General Manager of Education, Instruction and Operations
Neighborhood House Association

National Head Start Association

Damon Carson is the executive vice president and general manager of education, instruction and operations at Neighborhood House Association in San Diego, California. He has worked at Neighborhood House since 2000, where he started as the compliance analyst. A dedicated advocate of Head Start and for children and families, especially those who are disadvantaged, Carson currently chairs the National Head Start Association. Carson is also the treasurer and founding member of the National Head Start Alumni Association and serves on the Board of Directors of Region IX Head Start Association.

As a Head Start alumnus himself, Carson frequently says that he started his career in early childhood education while a preschooler in 1974 at a Head Start program in San Diego County.