IU Indianapolis Equity Champions Program

About the IU Indianapolis Equity Champions Program

The IU Indianapolis Equity Champions Program is built upon a foundational element: we cannot expect faculty and staff educators to serve our students and create inclusive and equitable environments until we create welcoming, comfortable, safe, supportive, and organic spaces for learning, sharing, and personal and professional growth for ourselves as educators.

The IU Indianapolis Equity Champions Program, led by a team of faculty, the Institute for Engaged Learning and the Center for Teaching and Learning, provides faculty and staff educators with small, easily adaptable, and modifiable strategies and resources that support students and their success throughout a semester. Our model relies on Communities of Transformation as a cornerstone of this work, regularly bringing faculty and staff educators together to discover, learn, share, and support one another.

The program strives to:

  • Provide a safe and supportive space for faculty and staff educators to discover, learn, share, and support one-another in these uncertain times.
  • Discuss small, simple strategies for creating more inclusive and equitable experiences for students enrolled in their courses (in-person, online, and hybrid).
  • Encourage faculty and staff educators to share successes and challenges, reflect on personal and professional growth, and collectively support one another.
  • Stimulate a professional development framework that is (1) centered on six evidence-based constructs that can enhance one’s own personal and professional growth as an educator, (2) relies on student input and feedback gathered throughout the semester to make small adjustments and enhancements to the overall teaching and learning experience.
  • Empower faculty and staff educators to develop, enhance, and document their work and efforts to create more equitable and inclusive experiences in teaching and learning environments.

The IU Indianapolis Equity Champions Program is based on a model developed by colleagues at the University of Toledo.  The program draws upon resources, strategies, and practices developed by the Student Experience Project, a collaborative of university leaders, faculty, researchers, and national education organizations committed to innovative, research-based practices that build equitable learning environments and foster a sense of belonging on campus.

This short video provides an overview of the program: Overview Video of Equity Champions @ IU Indianapolis.

The Equity Champions Program focuses on six research-based constructs that have been shown to enhance inclusive and equitable experiences for all students:

Belonging Certainty

Confidence that one belongs in the learning environment

Institutional Growth Mindset

The perception that an instructor and institution believe students' abilities are malleable and can be improved with effort, feedback, and the use of effective learning strategies

Trust & Fairness

Concerns about whether one will be treated fairly in interactions, grading, and other forms of evaluation

Identity Safety

Students from diverse identities and backgrounds feel welcome, valued, respected and recognized as having the potential to succeed



Confidence in one's ability to do well in the domains required by the learning environment

Social Connectedness

Feelings of connectedness to others (instructor, peers, TAs) in the learning environment


Prior research shows that a sense of belonging is essential in the student experience, and students from historically underserved groups are more likely to experience stereotypes related to their identity, making them more likely to experience belonging concerns and weaker learning outcomes. As educators, we can change learning environments, making these spaces more welcoming and inclusive for our students and rewarding for ourselves.

Program participants will explore these six key constructs in their weekly Community of Transformation meetings during the spring semester, implement small, simple strategies to create a more welcoming and inclusive learning environment for their students, get regular feedback from students throughout the semester, reflect on their own learning and next steps, and receive support and encouragement from their colleagues.

IU Indianapolis Equity Champions Program Participants will receive a small stipend ($300) for their engagement in this program.  Program expectations include:

  • Submit the application.  This opportunity is open to all full-time and part-time faculty who teach courses at IU Indianapolis. Applicants must identify in their application one course where they can implement ideas and constructs presented in the Communities of Transformation next semester.
  • Attend the orientation session.
  • Engage in Community of Transformation weekly meetings. Participate in weekly meetings on Zoom, share ideas and supporting the group. Each Community of Transformation will be capped at 9 participants, and will also have 2 co-facilitators.
  • Implement evidence-based change ideas: Learn about research ideas to implement in courses. Change ideas are designed to promote a sense of belonging and enhance support for student learning. Equity champions will have access to a variety of evidence-based practical resources developed by the Student Experience Project. Resources will be presented in weekly meetings or as asynchronous resources for exploration. 
  • Use the Ascend survey tool. Ascend is a brief, validated survey that assesses students’ experiences in your course on key constructs such as social belonging, identity safety, and institutional growth mindset. Equity Champions use this survey at several points in the semester to gather real-time, actionable data that can improve student outcomes.
  • Reflect. Respond to reflection prompts at four times throughout the semester, and share with your facilitators

Each Community of Transformation meets via Zoom for one-hour each week and is limited to a maximum of 9 participants, including two co-facilitators. Each session will:

  • Utilize a semi-structured format
  • Provide time informally to chat and connect
  • Revisit what happened last week (e.g., Did participants try to implement something new? If so, what and how? How did it go?), share successes and challenges
  • Share new resources that connect to one of the six key constructs
  • Initiate conversation about new strategies, ideas for what might be implemented and how
  • Provide participants with meaningful reflection time