Funding opportunities

Igniting Transformative Approaches to Ethnic Studies

The Stanford Accelerator for Learning seeks to fund exploratory projects, developing partnerships, and preliminary scholarship that are poised to make substantial impacts on how ethnic studies is taught and integrated into K-12 schooling across California.


When Assembly Bill 101 was signed in October of 2021, California became the first state to require all students to complete coursework in ethnic studies prior to graduating from high school. In signing the bill, Governor Newsom declared that students “must understand our nation’s full history if we expect them to one day build a more just society.” As all high schools in California must begin offering ethnic studies courses by the 2025-26 school year, we are in a moment of potentially consequential transformation in schools across the state.

A Stanford study published in 2017 estimated the causal effects of an ethnic studies curriculum piloted in several San Francisco high schools and yielded surprisingly large effects. Several schools in the district assigned students with eighth-grade GPAs below a threshold to take an ethnic study course in ninth grade. Ninth-grade student attendance increased by 21 percentage points, GPA by 1.4 grade points, and credits earned by 23. This may suggest that culturally relevant teaching, when implemented in a supportive, high-fidelity context, can provide effective support to at-risk students.

Recognizing that this moment signals an unprecedented opportunity for supporting new directions in school-based teaching and learning,  the Stanford Accelerator for Learning is funding research proposals that leverage partnerships with local community organizations and schools. This seed grant is intended to support exploratory projects, developing partnerships, and preliminary scholarship that are poised to make substantial impacts on how ethnic studies is taught and integrated into K-12 schooling across California.

Proposals for this grant are collaborative in nature. Successful proposals identified a particular ethnic studies-foci and a partnering organization, district, community group (or combination of these) that will coordinate efforts to support scholarly inquiry.

Though Assembly Bill 101 envisions high school-focused models of ethnic studies implementation, proposals for this grant can speak to formal and informal learning opportunities across the K-12 spectrum. We will accept a wide-range of proposals that move beyond blanket, one-size-fits-all approaches to the impending ethnic studies mandate.

Proposals may address:

  • Design, implementation, or evaluation of context-specific curriculum based on cultural, historical, or geographic foci (e.g. curriculum tied to Hmong communities in the Bay Area; classroom exploration of agricultural histories of labor and ethnicity within the Salinas Valley)
  • Cross-disciplinary exploration of ethnic studies engaged in varied subject areas (e.g. numeracy and data science intersections with ethnic studies; world literature as a window and mirror for local histories of race and ethnicity).
  • Community-driven approaches to instruction and learning opportunities
  • Focused scrutiny into theories of learning, assessment, teacher development, and educational policy that catalyze ethnic studies learning, teaching, and community uptake.

Given the broad perspectives and bodies of knowledge that (can) inform ethnic studies in school contexts, this grant encourages Stanford researchers of all departments and schools to consider varied disciplinary approaches to improving and supporting a statewide mandate. With a focus on the opportunity here in California, proposals are requested to focus on immediate partnership development, piloting of novel interventions, and other forms of research that might meaningfully lead to transforming how young people learn about the world and their role within it.


Applications are currently closed

2024 Awardees

Whose expertise matters? Centering Youth Voice to (Re)Conceptualize and Expand Accessibility in Ethnic Studies

This multiphase empirical work centers those most impacted by disproportionality, Students of Color who have been suspended and/or labeled disabled and their educators, positioning them as knowledge generators in co-designing, implementing, and evaluating Accessible Ethnic Studies (AES). The study aims are to 1) re-design Ethnic Studies, so it is accessible to all students; 2) implement AES as a means of reconnecting Students of Color who have been suspended to education; and 3) evaluate the impacts of AES to reflect on its limitations and potential.

Research team: Subini Annamma

Disseminating WISE Ethnic Studies to Sustain Students’ Sense of Belonging and Academic Achievement

This research addresses enduring educational and psychological disparities, particularly affecting minority youth due to social identity threats. While ethnic studies programs show promise in improving educational outcomes, a gap remains in understanding how to facilitate the impact of this knowledge on the key psychological outcomes known to drive student success: school belonging, positive self, and cultural identity. We propose a novel approach blending ethnic studies with social psychological interventions to address these challenges. Drawing on reflective writing prompts, goal-setting practices, and senior students’ stories, the intervention aims to fortify students’ psychological resilience by cultivating a positive social identity and mitigating threats to their sense of belonging and self-worth. Partnering with a San Francisco middle school in a randomized control trial study, we will evaluate the intervention’s impact on 950 students’ well-being and academic achievement.

Research team: Geoffrey Cohen, Steven Juarez

Developing and Piloting Model Ethnic Studies Curriculum Units, a partnership between STEP and the Sunnyvale School District

This pilot study draws upon a strong and mutual partnership between the Sunnyvale School District and the Stanford Teacher Education Program (STEP): (1) developing a set of ethnic studies curricular units, drawing on core disciplines and themes in the field; (2) supporting the professional learning of practicing teachers and teacher candidates to effectively instruct those units; (3) pilot testing those units over the course of the month-long Summer Explorations summer school program, a partnership between the Sunnyvale School District and STEP; (4) evaluate the efficacy of the pilot; and (5) utilize learnings from the pilot to design future professional development and dissemination efforts to additional educators.

Research Team: Ira Lit

Ethnic Studies Praxis and Pedagogies with Recently Arrived Im/migrant Youth Across the Bay Area

This collaborative project examines what it means to enact ethnic studies pedagogies with racialized, multilingual recently-arrived im/migrant youth from diverse ethno-racial and linguistic backgrounds. While the benefits of ethnic studies for racially and linguistically minoritized youth are well documented, its impact on racialized im/migrant youth who have recently arrived to the United States remains underexplored. Through collaborative inquiry, curriculum development, implementation, and reflection, this project will support teachers in engaging ethnic studies pedagogies that are relevant to their newcomer im/migrant youth population, accessible to their needs as multilingual learners from diverse educational backgrounds, and responsive to their localized communities. As schools in California and across the nation are increasingly called to respond to the needs of newcomer im/migrant youth, this research is timely and necessary.

Research Team: Eujin Park, Rita Kamani-Renedo

Intersection of Ethnic Studies and World Languages: Measuring Learning Impact of Integrated Instructional Units in High School

This project addresses the problem of practice posed by the implementation of recent legislation in California requiring ethnic studies as a graduation requirement. This research will explore student performance gains derived from infusing ethnic studies content into World Language curriculum, as well as address the issue of ensuring success for ethnic studies as a core subject by developing ways for world language instruction to maximize the areas of intersection between the two (identity, group, language, and cultural variation, community lived experiences) and link world language with the four pivotal themes within ethnic studies (identity, history and movement, systems of power, and social movements and equity). This project will see through the creation of instructional units, their implementation in action-research partnership with a local high school district, and the analysis of resulting data (student academic outcomes, teacher and student experiences) to determine the benefits of such cross-curricular intersection. The plan includes a strategy for dissemination of the units as well as the research outcomes in conferences and publications.

Research Team: Amado Padilla, Margaret Peterson

Freedom Dreaming in California Ethnic Studies Classrooms

This project is a collaboration with three middle school teachers in San Francisco Unified School District to co-create a culturally and historically responsive 8-week ethnic studies curriculum in social studies that creates conditions for youth to Freedom Dream across the historical record, their lived realities, and a future arc towards justice. Employing social design-based methodology to evaluate the merits of the intervention and other emergent insights from the social world of the classroom, this study illuminates new lines of thought on how to 1) build liberatory ethnic studies curriculum in middle schools, 2) conceptualize students as critical public historians, and 3) envision teachers as community archivists.

Research Team: Ramón Martínez, Darion Wallace, Ayan Ali, Gabriella Lopez

Belonging, Diverse Literature, and African American Girls Educational Experiences and Outcomes

This project explores the impact of implementing culturally responsive and affirming instructional practices in an after school setting by engaging elementary school Black girls with critical forms of African American literature by African American authors. This study also highlights the impact on Black girls’ cultural heritage identity development and academic achievement while amplifying the voices of Black elementary school girls in a suburban public elementary school setting. This qualitative study will be able to inform researchers and education practitioners of methods that can support Black girls academic achievement because Black girls must be able to see positive self- images reflected in their academic experience.


Research Team: Ramon Stephens

Centering Students in Ethnic Studies: Student-Led Curriculum Development and Teacher Partnerships in California Districts

This project will involve students in the creation of a student-centric ethnic studies framework and curriculum. Since the passage of Bill AB101, substantial debates have emerged regarding the most effective implementation of ethnic studies curriculum. Given the socially transformative nature of ethnic studies, educators must consider student-centered education as the foundation of a successful ethnic studies education, rejecting hierarchical learning structures. This student-centered framework will be developed as a pedagogical model for a larger ethnic studies curriculum, a six-week unit for 9-12th grade students on identity. Students from varying backgrounds and grade levels within a community partner, Diversify Our Narrative (DON), will support the construction of the framework and supplement the curriculum through research. Following that, the team will conduct faculty consultations to revise the framework and curriculum. Finally, they will collaborate with school districts in California to pilot the student-centric model for teaching ethnic studies.

Research Team: Katelin Zhou, Jasmine Nguyen