The AIR Equity Initiative: A Bridge to a More Equitable World

Read Bridges to Equity: A Promising Beginning, the first annual report of the AIR Equity Initiative.

Since its founding in 1946, the American Institutes for Research® (AIR) has conducted rigorous research and used evidence to address complex social issues and improve the lives of people, both in the U.S. and across the globe. The AIR Equity Initiative is predicated on these same principles and strengthens our commitment through a bold investment in the generation and use of evidence to address the most urgent challenge facing our nation: systemic inequity.

Learn more about this landmark commitment.


Key Areas of Work

The AIR Equity Initiative bolsters and expands AIR’s 75-year mission of improving lives and communities by deploying new resources to tackle the issues at the core of our national conversation on equity: education; workforce development; public safety and policing; and diversity, equity, and inclusion. In the coming year, we will expand our work to health.

Rigorous evidence and technical assistance will enable powerful change. The Equity Initiative’s work generates and uses evidence to confront inequities in the following key programmatic areas:

Three young children reading together in a library

Transforming education

Generating and using evidence in collaboration with school districts and communities to improve educational experiences and outcomes, so all students can thrive.


Strengthening workforce development

Using evidence in collaboration with stakeholders to build and expand workforce development systems that cultivate skill acquisition and employment opportunities for underserved workers.

Policewoman laughing with children

Creating safer communities

Generating evidence in collaboration with stakeholders to reduce harmful policing and build alternative public safety systems.

Coworkers at a table

Growing opportunities to benefit from diverse perspectives

Collaborating with partners and implementing practices to increase diversity, equity, and inclusion and cultural competencies in the behavioral and social science research fields.

Follow Our Journey

This is exciting ground for AIR. We are galvanized by the challenge and inspired by the determination of our partners to create long-lasting, community-rooted change.


Baltimore police officer and community member

Roundtable: Data-Informed Approaches to Cultivate Peaceful Communities

The AIR Equity Initiative hosted a two-part roundtable discussion to explore efforts to enhance equitable public safety and policing experiences that promote safe communities for all. Part one of this discussion led with the question, “What is your vision of a peaceful community?” The second part of the series pushed the conversation forward by asking, “How might we cultivate peaceful communities for all?” In this discussion, panelists highlighted the importance of deep and meaningful engagement with communities to strengthen research, practice, and investment strategies in public safety and policing.

View the recordings or read the post-event blog posts:

Bob Kim and Terris Ross

In Conversation with Bob Kim and Terris Ross

Part I: Why Some Education Policies Fall Short, and What Can Be Done About It

Part II: The Role of Research and Evidence in School Integration Policies

Robert “Bob” Kim, an AIR Institute Fellow, served as deputy assistant secretary in the Office for Civil Rights of the U.S. Department of Education during the Obama administration. Terris Ross, a program director for the AIR Equity Initiative, conducted and led numerous PreK-12 research and evaluation projects at the  Department, where she worked with Kim for several years. The two colleagues recently had conversations about policy development and implementation, and about educational equity.

Four Perspectives on Helping All Students Thrive

At an AIR Equity Initiative roundtable on May 25, 2022, AIR Board of Directors Vice Chair Lawrence Bobo moderated a panel of four experts representing different aspects of the educational system, each of whom highlighted persistent challenges that arose during the pandemic—or were exacerbated by it—as well as policy and practice innovations that helped practitioners to respond.

Teacher and students with ipads

The Intersection of Technology and Educational Equity—Before, During, and After the Pandemic

Technology has the potential to close achievement gaps but also exacerbate disparities. At the beginning of the pandemic, Michael Garet, vice president and institute fellow, led experts from across AIR to launch the National Survey of Public Education’s Response to COVID-19. In this Q&A, he and Tracy Gray, managing director, AIR Equity Initiative and the project director for the 2017 National Education Technology Plan, talk about equity, technology, and the future of education.

Working to Make Diverse Perspectives in Research, Policy, and Technical Assistance the Norm

During the Building Bridges to Equity: Making Diverse Perspectives in Research, Policy, and Technical Assistance the Norm event, a panel of experts offered important takeaways for individuals and organizations who want to help ensure that diverse perspectives are regularly sought and included.

Two women colleagues laughing together outdoors

How Mentoring Supports Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at AIR

Mentoring is an important part of AIR’s commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion, both within and beyond our institution. In this Q&A, Karen Francis, vice president and chief diversity, equity, inclusion officer, and Kim DuMont discuss our mentoring programs and highlight how they each support DEI at AIR.

Making Workforce Development Work for All: Five Themes from Our Panel Discussion

During the Bridges Toward Equity: Making Workforce Development Work for All roundtable event, a panel of AIR and community experts shared how stakeholders can work together to pursue an agenda to increase economic mobility and prosperity for the many Americans who are currently being left behind. Here are the five main themes explored during the event.

Apprentice with supervisor

Opportunity remains segregated in America. Evidence can be the bridge to a more equitable world.

Efforts to address inequities can be siloed and aren’t always based on evidence. The AIR Equity Initiative is taking a different approach, working across systems, partnering with local organizations, and relying on the generation and use of evidence. In this blog post, Kim DuMont explains this approach.

Diverse group of coworkers

Supporting Up-and-Coming Researchers and Practitioners

Over four days, 66 doctoral students from a variety of backgrounds engaged with AIR experts, Institute Fellows, and one another about how to design surveys anchored in cultural and linguistic knowledge, skills, and values. This first-of-its-kind AIR workshop is part of our Pipeline Partnership Program, which seeks to enhance the diversity of the field of behavioral and social sciences by engaging graduate students who reflect the diversity of the community. 

Pipeline partnership program logos

AIR's Pipeline Partnership Program

The AIR Pipeline Partnership Program seeks to address a persistent lack of racial and ethnic diversity in the fields of behavioral and social science research and ensure that individuals from underrepresented backgrounds are not marginalized in their career pursuits.