American Institutes for Research Awards $5.8 Million in Grants for New Tools and Approaches to Accelerate Integration and Equity in U.S. Public Schools 

AIR Equity Initiative funds seven new efforts to help realize the promise of the Brown v. Board of Education ruling 

Arlington, Va. – On the 70th anniversary of the Brown v. Board of Education ruling that desegregated U.S. schools, the American Institutes for Research (AIR) is awarding $5.8 million in grants to fund programs and initiatives to create more integrated, equitable education experiences for preK-12 public school students in the U.S.   

Seven teams at universities and nonprofits across the country are receiving the grants, which are funded by the AIR Equity Initiative, AIR’s $100M+ investment in research and technical assistance to address the underlying causes of systemic inequities and increase opportunities for people and communities. The grants will be used to build tools and strategies that address the inequity of resources and opportunities in schools segregated by race and place. Determined through an open call for proposals and competitive selection process, the grants are awarded to:  

  • New America, to create a nationwide data dashboard that connects concerned citizens and decision-makers with the information they need to advocate for shifts in school attendance boundaries that improve integration.
  • North Carolina State University, to examine the effectiveness of new strategies designed to enhance the integration and equity of two-way language immersion programs.   
  • Poverty & Race Research Action Council, to produce an evidence-based toolkit for housing mobility programs to promote school integration and improve educational opportunities for low-income students of color. 
  • The Urban Institute, to research the effects of controlled school choice programs on integration with leaders and community members in one of the nation's largest districts. The team will also develop a data visualization tool to help policymakers understand the potential for controlled choice programs to advance integration in large districts. 
  • University of Southern California, to evaluate the Choice Neighborhoods Initiative in Detroit, Michigan. The project will determine whether it is a successful model for connecting housing and school systems to disrupt segregation and produce other equity-focused outcomes. 
  • Researchers in AIR’s Early Childhood and Child Development program area to examine California’s transitional kindergarten expansion program to learn how program design and attendance boundaries may help reduce segregation. 
  • Researchers in AIR’s Youth, Family, and Community Development program area to codesign and develop an Equitable Collaboration Playbook of strategies, case studies, and customizable tools that bring authentic community engagement to discussions on school integration. 

“Seventy years after the Brown ruling, it is clear that the promise of this historic decision has not been fully realized. Our schools are becoming more segregated, and we are losing ground in the fight for education equity,” said Terris Ross, managing director of the AIR Equity Initiative. "The AIR Equity Initiative is committed to investing in evidence-driven approaches that deliver on the urgent needs of students today while creating pathways for a future where every child has a chance to thrive."  

Ross will speak about the grants at the NAACP’s celebration of the 70th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education on Friday, May 17 at the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C., which is co-sponsored by the AIR Equity Initiative. At the event, Ross will also escort members of the Little Rock Nine, who desegregated Arkansas schools, to be honored alongside other champions for justice, including Brown v. Board litigants.

This investment reinforces the AIR Equity Initiative’s philanthropic commitment to improving educational experiences, including its development of a funding model that aims to make research more equitable, relevant, and sustainable for the communities that stand to benefit from it.    

“AIR Equity Initiative grants are uniquely positioned to prioritize community partnerships and provide time and resources to build trust and strengthen relationships at the local level,” said Rashawn Ray, AIR vice president and the executive director of the AIR Equity Initiative. “We look for innovative projects that incorporate the voices of people with relevant lived experiences; bring an equity lens to all aspects of project implementation; and create intersectional approaches that break down barriers between sectors like education, justice, and community health.”   

Since 2020, the AIR Equity Initiative has invested over $20 million in addressing root causes of education inequity. Recent work includes a series of rapid-cycle project grants to test approaches furthering integration and equity in schools, and an ongoing collaboration with The Century Foundation to conduct a continuous improvement study of its Bridges Collaborative, a hub for learning and exchange among school, housing, and community development leaders. The Initiative also funded an essay series featuring diverse perspectives on new and reinvigorated approaches to school integration that is bolstering and informing its future work.    

About AIR  
Established in 1946, the American Institutes for Research (AIR) is a nonpartisan, not-for-profit institution that conducts behavioral and social science research and delivers technical assistance both domestically and internationally in the areas of health, education, and the workforce. AIR's work is driven by its mission to generate and use rigorous evidence that contributes to a better, more equitable world. With headquarters in Arlington, Virginia, AIR has offices across the U.S. and abroad. For more information, visit

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