Advancing systemic equity grant

School of Education and Psychology receives state grant to further its mission with CEED

Washington state recently awarded the Walla Walla University School of Education and Psychology a $20,000 “pilot to policy: advancing systemic equity grant” to support the Center for Educational Equity and Diversity in its mission to increase research and improve practice on issues of diversity and equity at WWU.

“This state education grant will support the mission of CEED and the School of Education and Psychology, providing opportunities for underrepresented students to enroll in teacher education, implement policy around racial equity, and develop authentic community partnerships,” says Debbie Muthersbaugh, dean of the School of Education and Psychology and CEED director.

Neria Sebastien, assistant professor of education and co-director of CEED, explained some of the ways in which the grant will be used: “A big part of CEED’s mission is advancing equity in teacher preparation. This involves attracting and recruiting teacher candidates from historically underrepresented groups to our university.” This is important because “gaps in representation, such as Hispanic or Latino teacher-student gaps, create a less diverse teaching force, decreasing access to similar resources for all students.” This drive for teachers will involve recruitment and financial incentives, such as reduced enrollment costs.  

In addition to recruitment, the grant will help the School of Education and Psychology to continue promoting an inclusive environment, which is described in the grant proposal as “a welcoming and inclusive environment reflective of the diversity of our students and community.” Much of the welcoming is done in the CEED office in Smith Hall, which will also benefit from the grant. The office, according the Sebastien, facilitates relationships with the community and is “a generous listening space where the community members can visit, learn, share, and use the special education adaptive toy library.” Many of these adapted toys were altered by WWU students to be more accessible to children with disabilities at CEED’s toy hack workshop in February 2018.

As the name implies, the “pilot to policy: advancing systemic equity grant” is part of a pilot study that will inform future state policy. As such, representatives from the School of Education and Psychology will work closely with the Washington State Professional Educator Standards Board in Seattle. The School will also develop new standards, curriculum, and approaches, all aimed at inclusiveness.

At its core, CEED is built around “the belief that we are all God’s children, created in His image, [which] gives inestimable value and worth to every individual, no matter their race, gender, cultural, or social background, and inherent intellectual or physical abilities.” With the aid of the pilot to policy grant, CEED will help more children than ever before. For more information about CEED, visit

Posted June 13, 2018

WWU student teacher reads to a room of preschoolers
WWU student teachers gain valuable teaching experience at schools throughout the Walla Walla Valley and at Discovery Preschool (pictured) on the College Place campus.
The official seal of CEED. Ceed is written across the middle of the circular logo and text rings the inner edge of the circle.
CEED was established to increase research and improve practice on issues of diversity and equity at WWU. Topics of faculty expertise include special needs education, cognition, inclusion, equity in STEM education, underserved populations, family literacy, and home instruction for newcomer families.
WWU professor Neria Sebastien and a WWU student teacher work with preschoolers
Sebastien, who co-directs CEED, brings years of teaching experience and expertise to the program.