Antiracism, Equity & Belonging

Successful programs focused on antiracism, equity and belonging are like living beings. To develop and grow into a healthy and strong institution, we respond to the real needs of a unique body of families and faculty, and we value each other’s experiences. Our programs include alliance and affinity groups, extensive professional development for faculty, events and discussion groups for parents, and a Diversity Council made up of stakeholders including parents, faculty, administrators, trustees, administrative staff and our facilities crew.   

Our Commitment to Antiracism, Equity, and Belonging
Grace Church School seeks to provide its students with an outstanding education and with the desire to use it to make the world a better place.  Every facet of our work is enhanced by the diversity and strength of our community.  We believe that equity and inclusion are not only hallmarks of a just society, but also virtues essential to sound learning. And so, Grace seeks to recognize and honor the unique gifts of its students, families, faculty, and staff—and the cultures, beliefs, values, and experiences that have shaped them—striving always to cultivate mutual understanding, humility, respect, and kindness.
But inclusion is not enough and equity is an impossibility if we cannot name, acknowledge, and oppose the forces of racism and all forms of bias, hate, and fear that exist in our society and that seek to diminish so many in our midst.  Knowing this, we commit ourselves to the work of antiracism and to the cause of justice: that all students may find in Grace a home, may learn from Grace their precious worth, and may hear from Grace a call to serve the common good and the dignity of humanity.  -Grace Diversity Statement, 2018

List of 6 frequently asked questions.

  • The Institutional Culture Committee (ICC)

    The ICC embodies the Board's commitment to antiracism, equity, inclusion, and belonging. Guided by its own specific committee charter, the ICC provides oversight at the Board level to the School’s efforts in living out its overall mission as well as its commitments to diversity and inclusion. Co-Chaired by Renée Noel and Barbara Sibley, the Committee has grown out of the work of the Diversity Structures Task Force (2016-2020) and is composed of 32 members across all constituencies of the Grace community, including current HS students. The ICC has a set of subcommittees that maintain oversight over these areas: Antiracism, Equity and Belonging (AEB), Communication of Mission, Dashboard and Reporting, Sustainability, Episcopal Identity and Service Learning, Gender and Identity, Health and Wellness. These subcommittees are designed to be nimble and flexible depending on the needs of the Grace Community. A list of members of the ICC can be found here.
  • Office of Community Engagement (OCE)

    The OCE seeks to support Grace in engaging in collaborative work that serves the school’s mission to “develop an active ethical consciousness.” The office helps coordinate professional development, student programs and events that honor our rich interconnectedness in a diverse and dynamic world.  Any member of the community is invited to visit and learn about how the office hopes to make the mission of Grace Church School a living and breathing reality for all.
    The OCE includes:
    Jean Robert Andre, Dean of Diversity and Inclusion
    Kim Chaloner, Dean of Community Life
    Ilana Laurence, Dean of Student Life
    The OCE has also created additional roles for current faculty in each division, called Division Faculty Liaisons:
    Early Childhood Division- Kate Patton
    Lower School Division- Hayeun Kim
    Middle School Division- Morika Tsujimura
    High School Division- Piya Kashyap & Enkay Iguh
  • Diversity Council (DC), All School

    The Diversity Council was formed as a result of a 2009 internal review and it is made up of parents, trustees, faculty, staff and administrators. The council helps plan yearly events that highlight the value of a diverse environment, including evening events, a diversity book club, an annual film event, and working group meetings that discuss issues important to building an inclusive school. It is facilitated through the Office of Community Engagement, and its meetings are open to all members of the community.
  • Safe Space Advocates, High School Division

    Safe Space Advocates are faculty members and support staff who have received special training in order to answer questions about harassment and to help students who need to report incidents. While students may always seek out school counselors, advisors, faculty or administrators to ask questions or report incidents, the Advocates focus on helping students by listening to their concerns, by helping them understand policy and assisting them to seek further support. When appropriate, the Advocate can help a student to find counseling resources, as well as with the disciplinary process.
    Safe Space Advocates :
    Andrew Leonard
    Katherine Cheung
    Ravendra Persaud
    Alice Polanski
    Jacob Root
    Christina Olivares
    Mark Hummell
    Daria Melnyk
    Toby Nathan
    Associates to the Safe Space Advocates:  Mel Chan, Beth Walker, Ilana Laurence, Kallan Wood

  • Black Students Demanding Change

    In the summer of 2019 students from the GCS high School presented the school with a list of demands to further the school's antiracist mission and explicitly reported areas that the school was falling short. Some of these demands were met but Grace did not adequately respond. Following the devastating events of 2020 including, but not limited to, the racism laid bare in the effects of the pandemic on communities of color, the murder of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, the Black Lives Matter protests and the clear and courageous testimony on the @blackat Instagram accounts for independent schools including Grace, a group of students at New York City independent schools formed a now nationwide organization named Black Students Demanding Change (BSDC). Grace has representatives on BSDC, and under the umbrella of the group have updated the Student Demands of 2019. These demands are grouped under the following: Culture, Accountability, Representation, Education, and Support (CARES).
  • Pollyanna, Inc.

    Pollyanna Inc. is an independent consulting firm that works with academic and other institutions to achieve their diversity, equity and inclusion goals. Through its unique conference models, discussion platforms, and racial literacy curricula, Pollyanna works with its partner organizations to increase racial literacy and institutional commitment to equity and belonging. Following @blackatgrace and other reports of racism in our community, Pollyanna was hired by the Board of Trustees to conduct an independent review and study of the institutional response to racism at Grace. Pollyanna consultants held over 30 focus groups this fall and, following a community survey this month, they will deliver an assessment report to the Board this spring. 

Some Background: Diversity at GCS for Over 60 Years

Grace Church School has always welcomed students of all faiths or no faith and welcomed all the children of the surrounding community. In 1947 the school became coeducational. Grace has increasingly sought ways to better live this ideal. GCS was one of only two New York City schools willing to host the NAIS Multicultural Assessment Plan during the early 1990s. In 1997, Grace hosted a two-day, citywide diversity conference examining racism in education, headlined by Dr. Cornel West. In 2009, Grace conducted a Community Climate Assessment, a year-long process of self-examination, using the resulting data to create our Strategic Plan for Diversity and Inclusion in May 2010. We have a history of being ahead of the pack, but we are not done yet. Watch this page as we continue to grow.
© 2021 Grace Church School
Grace Church School is a co-educational independent school in downtown Manhattan, New York City providing instruction for over 700 students in Junior Kindergarten through Grade 12.