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: Macheo Payne, senior director of equity and educational initiatives, Lincoln; second panelist TBD

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

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.

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.