A Guide to Ten Training Programs on Racial Equity and Inclusion

In-depth study provides summary, comparison, and analysis of ten antiracism training programs across the United States.

Reviewed by Becky Mer


This Guide, developed by Dr. Ilana Shapiro, provides a detailed review and comparison of ten antiracism training programs in the United States. It explores why programs do what they do (theory of practice), how they believe their work will lead to positive results (theory of change), why they use certain training methods (pedagogy), and subsequently discusses their organizational capacities and goals. This analysis also includes a discussion related to how training programs identify and grapple with the roots and dynamics of racial oppression and the principles they adopt to address those challenges. 

The Guide is organized into four sections. In the first section, the paper provides an overview of each of the ten programs, including their distinguishing features and challenges. Section Two describes four additional programs that conduct meaningful and related work across the United States. Later in the paper, the third section analyzes key similarities and differences across the initiatives, while Section Four highlights important challenges and future directions for racial justice training programs. Meanwhile, the appendices include useful questions guiding training program selection and a checklist for effective training components. 

This publication was developed in coordination with several  partners and institutions. As principal researcher of the Guide, Dr. Ilana Shapiro drew on her work as co-founder and director of the Alliance for Conflict Transformation in Fairfax, VA, as well as her doctoral work in Social Psychology and Conflict Analysis and Resolution. The Guide was produced by the Project Change Anti-Racism Initiative in Oakland, CA, which focused on addressing institutional racism and racial prejudice in several American cities, and by the Aspen Institute Roundtable on Comprehensive Community Initiatives for Children and Families in New York City, whose projects included a long-term examination of structural racism. The Guide was also developed in consultation with the Center for Assessment and Policy Development in Philadelphia, PA, which is a nonprofit organization focused on research, planning, and policy.

Methods and Findings

The researchers selected ten training programs by surveying professionals with relevant knowledge on these types of programs, reviewing relevant program guides, and narrowing the initial list of potential programs in consultation with researchers and practitioners familiar with key organizations. The project team prioritized programs that address the structural and institutional dimensions of racism. Data was then collected through phone and in-person interviews with program directors, trainers, and participants; observations of at least one training per organization; and a review of program materials.

The ten programs under review, the year they were founded, and their unique theories of change are as follows:

  1. People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond (c. 1980): Challenge and motivate people to change by providing a common framework for community organizing and developing accountable leadership.
  2. National Coalition Building Institute (c. 1984): Individual change happens through self-awareness, emotional expression, and new skills and behaviors. Changes in relationships result from hearing others’ experiences of oppression, finding common ground, and building alliances.
  3. VISIONS–Vigorous Interventions into Ongoing Natural Settings (c. 1984): Develop awareness of individual attitudes, emotions, and behaviors. Recognize and appreciate differences through ongoing contact with own and other groups. Ongoing work within communities and organizations can result in redistributions of power.
  4. Anti-Defamation League (ADL) World of Difference© Institute (c. 1985): New knowledge, behavioral options, self-awareness, critical analysis, and appreciation of cultural differences are key to individual change and action.
  5. Crossroads Ministry (c. 1986): Institutional change involves a racial-justice analytical framework, institutional commitment, accountable leadership, and shifts in culture, identity, and purpose.
  6. Study Circles Resource Center (now Everyday Democracy) (c. 1989): A critical mass of individuals creates structural change by finding common ground while  building trusting and cooperative relationships. 
  7. Hope in the Cities (c. 1990): Resilient relationships create social change. Build relationships across groups by recognizing common humanity, sharing experiences of oppression, and expressing vulnerability.
  8. National Conference for Community & Justice (NCCJ) Dismantling Racism Institute (c. 1992): Liberation and change come from empowering individuals through introspection and education, using coalitions to mobilize communities, and transforming organizations through leadership and social action.
  9. Challenging White Supremacy Workshop (c. 1993): Organize a grassroots multi-racial revolution using antiracist organizing strategies. Create new consciousness through critical analysis of political, social, and economic conditions and ongoing dialogue, action, and reflection on racial justice efforts.
  10. Training for Change: White People Working on Racism (c. 1997): Self-awareness and self-acceptance lead to more effective action. Form support networks and develop skills to plan nonviolent social action.

The authors also highlight work by four other organizations: Seeking Educational Equity and Diversity (SEED) in Wellesley, MA; Changework in Durham, NC; Healing the Heart of Diversity in Roanoke, VA; and the National Network of Anti-Racism and Community Building Training Institutes in California. 

The programs in this study are trailblazers in addressing the complex, deeply rooted, and constantly changing dynamics of racism, racial conflict, and intergroup relations. They do so while operating with limited resources and time constraints. Their theories of practice–whether focusing on prejudice reduction, healing, antiracism, diversity, democracy-building, or a combination–draw on different theoretical foundations, analyze a different set of problems, and seek different goals. For example, programs oriented toward healing often emphasize the spiritual and social dimensions of racial reconciliation, whereas programs with antiracism goals often focus on the social, political, and economic dimensions of racial justice and equity. 


Three interrelated areas for growth emerged from this study. First, more programs must focus on understanding and combating structural racism. Few programs are rooted in theories that address the structural dimensions of racism, and few programs go beyond interpersonal relations to address systemic racism. Second, programs need more practical and specific strategies to help participants translate their personal growth into action in their communities and institutions. Third, dismantling racism requires cooperation and coordination across programs. Since trainers work in demanding and competitive environments, they rarely have the opportunity to learn from one another, enhance their offerings, offer more sustained activities, or pair training with other interventions. 

Based on the experiences of initiatives included in this Guide, antiracism training programs may need to overcome the following key challenges: clarify language and terms, differentiate among types of oppression in different populations, address the emotional aspects of racism in ways that integrate its personal and political dimensions, expand participants’ and funders’ time and financial commitments, invest in more rigorous evaluations, and expand the scope and reach of training. By doing so, trainers may be better equipped to work toward a more equitable, just, and inclusive world.


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