Guidance from the Equity Workgroup

The SEL4NJ Educational Equity working group, convened in early 2019, was established to promote equity 

as a guiding lens and framework for the organization’s efforts. 

Below is an excerpt from the report provided at the SEL4NJ Summit held on April 29th, 2019 at the 

Saint Elizabeth University in Morristown, NJ.  The work of the Equity task force is on-going.


Asserting equity as a guiding principle requires that involved individuals, groups, and the organization as a whole continuously engage in critical self-reflection on issues related to identity, ability, privilege, and oppression, particularly as these concepts inform the definition, design, and delivery of high quality and culturally sustaining SEL.


  • By equity, SEL4NJ is referring to a vision in which all stakeholders (students and staff) have the supports needed to both access opportunity and achieve mastery. 
  • Equity requires understanding and meeting local needs through educational policies, programs, and practices that ensure high expectations and positive, measurable outcomes for all stakeholders.
  • SEL4NJ emphasizes that equity is distinct from equality, which indicates that uniform resources, programs, and opportunities (related to SEL or otherwise) are accessible to all stakeholders. 
  • By focusing on equity, this implies that SEL and its three components – Conditions (Culture and Climate), Competencies, and Character – may take different forms in an equity-informed SEL landscape that recognizes and values the diversity of persons and groups within society, and fully honors individuals’ identities as they are shaped by race, ethnicity, creed, color, national origin, age, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability, or socioeconomic status, among other characteristics.
  • Equity-informed SEL requires that dominant narratives and frames of reference, which shape the formation and content of SEL curricula, programming, and approaches, are interrogated and dismantled, as they may contribute to or sustain structural systems of oppression. 
  • Through this process of critical reflection, leaders and educators will develop critical consciousness of how SEL and related skills are culturally-infused. 
  • This awareness, coupled with the systematic and consistent inclusion of diverse voices in planning and decision-making, will support more equitably designed and delivered SEL efforts in the state of New Jersey.