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(Catalyze) Inclusive Partnerships

We cannot seek achievement for ourselves and forget about progress and prosperity for our community. Our ambitions must be broad enough to include the aspirations and needs of others, for their sakes and for our own.

Cesar Chavez



Shaking Hands IconInclusive partnerships (IP) value and prioritize the diverse voices of students, families, caregivers, and communities when making decisions that affect their lived experiences. This relationship requires the people and institutions who hold power to account for past inequities and to create conditions for healing and co-design an equitable future. In the process of creating inclusive partnerships, an equity leader will always acknowledge and publicly recognize communities and cultures, and their solutions and ideas will be leveraged for shared benefit. The outcome will be both authentic engagement and diversity, as well as more equitable decisions as a result of the engagement process. We prioritize three key stakeholder groups:

  • People with institutional or historical memory,
  • People most impacted by inequity, and
  • People responsible for implementing and driving change.

Prioritizing the voices of those with the most critical needs by providing accessible authentic and collaborative experiences in schools, communities, online, and beyond furthers transparency and power sharing. Inclusive partnerships bring together a diverse array of stakeholders to engage in authentic, collaborative experiences and co-design community-centered solutions to complex and challenging issues caused and upheld by systemic oppression. Internal partners include students, caregivers, school, district staff, and volunteers. External partners include community organizations, research organizations, and funders, among others. All partners must remain committed to sharing power and responsibility as they move toward greater equity.

This requires inviting and allowing students, families, caregivers, and underrepresented employee groups to speak about their needs to inform improvement efforts.


Those who catalyze inclusive partnerships:

  • Prioritize the perspectives and voices of stakeholders with institutional and/or historical memory, those most impacted by inequitable decisions, and those responsible for implementing and driving change.
  • Shift from competition to cooperation mindset to productively address conflict, promote healing, and rebuild trust, using tools like meeting norms and the Equity CURVE, with much greater transparency in service of students.
  • Listen to diverse stakeholders to understand how culture, differences, and lived experiences can be leveraged as assets.
  • Engage in ongoing, inclusive partnerships with those most affected by structural inequity to design and implement a more equitable education system that empowers underrepresented students and adults.
  • Elevate student voice data and opportunities for student input across the district and city to understand students’ lived experiences in order to make decisions that are made with students for students.
  • Embrace families across Chicago community areas as allies who engage and inform student learning opportunities, including continuous dialogue about allyship and anti-bias and how to leverage the community’s strengths and assets inside and outside of school.
  • Set high, clear expectations for all parties to promote trust and transparency.
  • Finds ways to include voices and ideas that may have been previously ignored.

This downloadable PDF includes the Equity Framework and interactive worksheets.

Download framework