For adult education practitioners and programs, supporting adult learners can and should include addressing the multiple and intersecting inequities and disparities that impact the learning and lives of the students we serve. Particularly since 2020, programs have sought to understand and address educational, social, and economic disparities through the lens of anti-racism and to implement diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives to better serve their students and communities. But what, actually, does DEI mean in the context of adult education? What do and could DEI initiatives look like, and how might they impact students’ experiences and outcomes?
From 2020 to 2022, staff from 14 Massachusetts adult education programs participated in a sustained professional development (PD) opportunity that asked them to evaluate their programs; identify areas where changes could make their programs more welcoming and equitable; and create a plan to make manageable, sustainable changes to that end. This report documents their work and the lessons they learned along the way.