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The eXd Community is on a mission to help over 900 educators design an equitable new world
Featured in this Story of Awesome: Exd Community
Launched October 2019
The eXd Community is a membership that empowers educators to create transformative, equity-centered schools and organizations.
The Spark: Once she created a consulting practice dedicated to equity in education, the 228 Accelerator, Caroline Hill started looking for ways to expand her reach.
Caroline’s Mighty Moment: “A lot of times with equity work and justice work, the ideas are never articulated into action. They just stay ideas. But with the community aspect, we’re giving people the space to turn these abstract ideas into something they practice every single day.”
When Caroline Hill left her job as a high school principal in 2015, she took two big ideas with her. First, she wanted to explore the role of race and equity in inclusion work. Second, she wanted to see how that work fit into the idea of how we, as people, can design and innovate new worlds for ourselves.
To explore each of those ideas, she built a framework called equityXdesign. Her intention? To merge the values of equity work and innovation with the intentionality of design:
“The racism that we’re experiencing now and every day in this country is a product of design. Not just in our policies and practices and communities, but also in our relationships. So with equityXdesign, we’re creating a premise that says, ‘If racism and equity have been designed one way, they can be redesigned another way. And we can position ourselves as the designers.’”
Armed with her new framework (and with her years of experience in education to boot), Caroline created a consulting practice, 228 Accelerator. Over time, it became a hub where she shared her mission, hosting in-person sessions where she taught school leaders and educators to leverage their influence and create learning experiences that centered the voices of the marginalized.
But a few years in, she started thinking about how she could expand her reach. In Caroline’s mind, it was crucial to acknowledge that the price point just wasn’t feasible for some educators.
And more than anything, she wanted to break down that barrier:
“As my consulting practice grew, I was starting to find that only schools with access to philanthropic dollars were getting access to this framework. And I thought, ‘This work can’t just be for schools that can afford a hot price consultant to come and work with their staff.’”
Determined to flip the script, Caroline started looking for ways for educators to access her framework and resources. And soon enough, she found Mighty Networks…
Leveling the playing field
…And her own personal a-ha moment. This was her opportunity to share her work and expertise to a larger audience, and to connect a wide array of educators to each other:
“We knew that everyone would be coming here from different starting points. And with this move, we started to build a common understanding and a common language.”
Plus, creating a membership on Mighty Networks meant that she could reassure her people that they were learning (and unlearning) in a private, safe space:
“First, the idea was, ‘We could just do this on Facebook.’ But there was no way to create a private space. By building a private membership, there’s no question about, ‘If I say the wrong thing, is that going to go viral? If I missed a step and I unintentionally insult someone, will my career fall?’ Instead, it’s a safe place for us to learn and grow and work together.”
Meanwhile, Caroline and company started reconfiguring one of their in-person sessions, Design Achievement at the Margins, and translating it into a digital course. As they worked on the redesign, Caroline had another a-ha moment:
“I realized that when we did this session in person, people were going at my pace and not their own. But if you really want people to learn, they have to be able to come to the learning when they’re ready. So I knew I wanted to allow people to move as fast or as slow as they needed to maintain their own momentum.”
That led to a big decision: Within her membership, she would offer two different self-paced courses: an introductory course at a lower price point, and her flagship course, Design Achievement at the Margins. Both courses would allow members to go at their own rate and take advantage of the course community as well.
In addition, she would offer a guided, hands-on version of Design Achievement at the Margins. That way, educators could opt-in for added structure or direct access to Caroline if they so pleased:
“It just came back to evening the playing field between those folks who had access to the philanthropic dollars and the folks who didn’t. So whether a member had a foundation paying for them, or they were paying their own way, they’re all in the same community, learning the same concepts.”
Designing a new, equity-centered world
Today, the eXd Community is home to over 900 educators and thought leaders who are learning to design educational experiences centered around equity. Most members have joined from word of mouth, while others were recruited from marketing emails and Caroline’s greater network.
So far, the community aspect of the membership has been massive. As it turns out, it’s been the key to helping members to really apply the concepts they’re learning:
“A lot of times with equity work and justice work, the ideas are never articulated into action. They just stay ideas. But with the community aspect, we’re giving people the capacity space to turn these abstract ideas into something they practice every single day.”
To do this, the eXd Community offers three different courses. Each course, priced at a one-time fee, includes access to the overall community, where members can peruse live events, Topics and more.
Here’s how it all breaks down.
Start With Yourself and Create Empathy CourseThis introductory self-paced course, priced at a one-time fee of $229.99, helps members explore how to redesign their relationships to be more equitable and anti-racist. The course also includes:
- Access to the greater eXd Community and the corresponding Start With Yourself and Create Empathy Circle (a Group for course members)
- Bi-weekly Q&As and downloadable resources
- A badge upon completion to share with members’ professional communities
Design Achievement at the MarginsCaroline’s flagship course, priced at a one-time fee of $349.99, introduces members to the equityXdesign process and focuses on bringing the voices of the marginalized into the design process. In addition, the course includes:
- Access to the greater eXd Community and the Design Achievement at the Margins Circle
- General support to develop skills (and courage!) to be an equitable designer
- Bi-weekly Q&As and online events
- A completion badge to share with members’ professional communities
Design Achievement at the Margins – FacilitatedFor a one-time fee of $699.99, this facilitated version of the course is guided by Caroline or a member of her team. Additionally, members get a two-hour session with Caroline, where she can help them with best practices and make sense of the work:
“In a lot of ways, because we want to create this common shared story, the facilitated course members walk through the same experience as the people in the lower price point. The additional cost pays for more direct access to me: they get structured time, we’re sitting down, we’re facilitating the connection, and we’re making it quickly applicable to your own practice in the moment.”
TopicsCaroline also relies on Topics—from Radical Inclusion to Education and Equity Resources— to curate articles, resources, and suggestions for further reading in one place.
As the community grows, Caroline has also started incorporating her own story into her membership’s content, too. That way, her members can have a clearer idea of who she is and where the membership originated:
“I want people to know me and my story, and all the complexity that comes with that. So periodically, I’ll post more personal notes just to say, this is who I am, this is where we came from, this is what we’re trying to do here, and thank you for joining us.”
Innovating the learning experience
Overall, Caroline has seen her members reap major results and transformation:
“One of the goals we look for, and one of the things we’ve seen over and over again, is for people to say, ‘Huh, I didn’t know that. And now that I know that, I will act differently.’ We really look for those a-ha moments because that’s what’s ultimately going to change your behavior.”
But she isn’t stopping there. Caroline is already planning for the future. At the moment, she’s working on two new courses, Cede Power and Make the Invisible Visible, to add to her membership.
She’s also working on different ways to expand her community and foster deeper connections between her members:
“I anticipate people needing a lot more support to say, ‘Alright, now let’s take it a step further.’ They have the courses, they’re starting on the path to transformation, and to continue on that path, they can’t work independently. So we want to start building events where people can learn together, where they can connect with each other, and where they can solve real problems that they’re experiencing in their school settings.”
But as Caroline and her team experiment with different ways to offer even more value within the eXd Community, there’s one thing they won’t lose sight of: the educators at the heart of their membership:
“Historically, in our country, educators don’t get a lot of recognition. But these are the people responsible for building democracy. They’re building the next generations. And this is one of the places where they can reach higher and dream bigger.”
3 key takeaways from eXd Community’s Story of Awesome
- Courses and community go hand in hand. We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: Establishing a community alongside your course is always a good idea. When your members get the opportunity to navigate challenges together, they get way more out of the process.
- Experiment with your offerings. Not all communities are going to have the same path to success. If something that seems a little unusual—like offering two different versions of a course—works for you and your members, go for it!
- Your story matters. The journey from where you started to where you are today will motivate your members to join the community, membership, or course that you’re building. Don’t be afraid to share it.