The only organization dedicated solely to helping state boards advance equity and excellence in public education.

Leading for Equity and Excellence Program

Almost daily, education policymakers are reminded of the role that race and culture play in our society, yet they often lack opportunities for open, honest dialogue about their influence on teaching and learning.

The Leading for Equity and Excellence Program (LEEP) is a professional development resource for state policymakers committed to advancing equity in education. LEEP’s comprehensive educational programming and technical assistance builds the capacity of state boards to ensure equal access to excellent learning opportunities for all students. Participants learn to apply an equity lens to policymaking while increasing their capacity to engage in courageous conversations that identify root causes and strengthen state policy.


“[LEEP] sessions directed me to have more courage to have conversations about race, equity, and collaboration with state board members, DOE staff, and legislators.” – LEEP Participant

With passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), the primary responsibility for ensuring education equity shifted to state policymakers. LEEP represents the next level of NASBE’s commitment to promote high-quality education for all students by building the capacity of state board members to recognize and address inequities in meaningful, systemic ways.  Since its inception in 2017, LEEP has coached state board members representing 15 states and the District of Columbia. What could be different in your equity leadership if you were able to better engage diverse perspectives during decision making?

LEEP offers two tracks for professional development: LEEP National Cohort and LEEP State Policy Network…

The LEEP National Cohort is for individual state board members looking for a shared learning experience with a diverse community of professionals from around the country. During the eight-week course, participants build their capacity to identify personal core values for leadership; engage different perspectives while recognizing their own biases; examine the influence of political ideologies, cultural perceptions, and economic structures on public education; and assess strategies to remove structural barriers and close achievement gaps.

The LEEP State Policy Network fosters collaboration between state boards, state education agencies, and other state and local leaders working to advance equity. State teams hear from national experts, participate in peer-to-peer discussions, and receive customized training and technical assistance to help them engage different perspectives and strengthen their collective role. Participants say they appreciate the opportunities LEEP offers to learn from others and develop the confidence to engage in tough conversations about educational equity.


LEEP Technical Assistance provides targeted support to state boards leading systemic equity transformation…

Services are offered through direct consultation with one of our subject matter experts and delivered through one-on-one discussions, small-group facilitation, or customized online training.


The LEEP National Cohort is a great opportunity to take your equity leadership to the next level…

Participants should be able to participate in each of the four meetings (virtual and in person) and be able to complete all assignments. Participants will be selected based on their demonstrated commitment to equity, openness to exploring issues of race and culture in education, and leadership potential after the course.

Please contact Kimberly Charis, NASBE’s senior equity consultant, at with any questions or to request the link to our online application.


Apply: Leading for Equity and Excellence Program National Cohort 2020

The Leading for Equity and Excellence Program (LEEP) National Cohort is looking for systems thinkers to join its 2020 National Cohort.

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Boardmanship Reviews

Learning to Lead for Equity

Many state boards of education put equity at the center of their missions. This piece highlights the work of our Leading for Equity and Excellence Program (LEEP) and how it has coached state boards to be equity leaders.

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Policy Update

Building the Capacity of State Boards to Lead for Equity and Excellence

This NASBE policy update offers state boards a means to address these issues through structured discussions of equity, the achievement gap, and what state boards need to lead for equity and excellence.

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The Standard

Unfinished Business: Addressing Unequal Opportunities in Education

Student achievement gaps in the United States have persisted, though not at static levels, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. And while the degree to which any particular factor gets blame or credit for widening or narrowing the gaps is debatable, the authors in this issue of The State Education Standard agree that differences […]

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Introductory Training on Leading for Equity and Excellence

Despite the prominent role race and cultural diversity play in our society, few safe spaces exist for policymakers and others to have open, honest dialogue about educational inequity. It is one reason why policymakers, educators, and communities continue to grapple with achievement gaps and racial disparities. The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) underscores state policymakers’ […]

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