In 2016, at the Highlander Institute’s Startup Weekend Education (SWEDU) in Providence, Rhode Island, the idea for Diversity Talks was born.
Three individuals looking to amplify learner voice came up with an ambitious idea—empower learners to lead professional development training on diversity, equity, and inclusion. Two of the three cofounders were high school juniors when the idea came into being. Although they learned in an environment that celebrated everyone’s unique identities, they knew this was an exception to the rule. Their third partner, a Special Assistance for Providence Public Schools, provided further confirmation of this belief and knew the power learners could bring to the conversation. Diversity Talks is now a limited liability company looking to expand its work across the country. The program focuses on three principles: Learner Voice, Advocacy, and Mentoring. They seek to “provide a platform for the voices of students of color to be heard, advocate for high quality K-12 culturally responsive curricula and professional development for educators, and strengthen the pipeline for students of color to become leaders in education through peer reviews and student coaching supports.”