Changing the system for more inclusivity and equity

Learning Differences

8 July 2020

Photo by Pragyan Bezbaruah from Pexels

Nine North Carolina organisations that work on education, disability rights, activism, Latino issues, and in rural communities were selected to advance their work at the intersection of race, educational equity, and learning differences.[1] They will participate in a learning and action network called Learning for Equity: A Network for Solutions (LENS NC). MDC, a not-for-profit organisation working to advance economic mobility for people on the margins in the southern United States, has created this network.

Participating organisations are receiving grants to advance their work to reduce race and income disparities in educational outcomes among students with learning differences, and to create learning environments where marginalised students with learning differences will thrive.

Members of the network began by sharing new and promising ways that children with learning differences can receive the support they need. They are currently meeting virtually to address the unique challenges posed during the Covid-19 crisis. They continue to address common challenges and explore opportunities to amplify effective strategies for change in the classroom, as well as at school, community, district, and state levels.

LENS NC seeks to improve the lives of the one in five children who struggle with learning and attention issues, and the less than favourable outcomes for low-income students and students of colour, who face even greater challenges in the educational systems.

“This work at the intersection of race, economics equity, and education is occurring at a pivotal time in history, when there are many discussions about justice and equity in our communities,” said MDC programme director Stephanie Walker. “In the few months that LENS NC has been underway, several organisations in the network have forged new alliances to provide assistance to students and parents. As the network continues its work, even more opportunities for partnership will emerge, and we are excited about the possibilities.” 

Based in Durham, North Carolina, MDC works to equip Southern leaders, institutions, and communities to improve economic mobility and advance equity. Founded over 50 years ago, MDC strives to remove systemic barriers that hold back economically marginalised youth, families, and communities. Find out more about its work by watching the video here.

The Learning Differences Programme at Oak strategically partners with and invests in organisations that improve education for students with learning differences, with a particular focus on advancing equity in education.“Our aspiration is that the collective effort to learn and collaborate together will strengthen the work and amplify the reach of each participating organisation to advance more equitable outcomes for students with learning differences who experience additional adversity due racism and poverty,” said Heather Graham, director of Oak Foundation’s Learning Differences Programme. Learn more about the programme strategy here.


[1] Learning differences are defined as diagnosed or undiagnosed specific learning disabilities (such as dyslexia, dyscalculia, and dysgraphia) as well as other related neurological processing challenges that can affect learning (such as attention deficits, sensory processing disorders, and executive function challenges).

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