At Sunbridge Institute we are committed to serving and being a diverse, inclusive community. We are striving collectively to ensure the continued growth and development of our curriculum and program offerings to reflect these values. As we deepen our own relationship to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, we ask for your honest feedback and perspective, understanding that we wish to widen our lens and that this work is, and will always be, in process.
In June 2018, Linda Williams, PhD, Sunbridge alumna and longtime class teacher at the Detroit Waldorf School, gave a keynote presentation at the Association of Waldorf Schools of North America’s annual conference on the topic “Social Justice: Exploring Place, Race, Class, and Gender in Waldorf Education.”
In a follow-up article on that theme for the Fall/Winter 2018 issue of Renewal, Dr. Williams wrote:
It is important that Waldorf teacher education programs continue to actively promote teaching for inclusivity, diversity, and social justice in their programs and practices. These themes should be explicit and central, both in ongoing programs and in specific workshops.
I also recommend that there be a concentrated, national effort to increase the number of teachers and administrators of color in our Waldorf schools. This step alone—to actively recruit and support teachers of color to become Waldorf teachers and administrators—would significantly increase the diversity of voices at the table.
These messages tied neatly into Sunbridge’s own ongoing and increasingly urgent conversations about what we ourselves could do to help remedy the lack of diversity within Waldorf school communities while also help all our students develop a deeper understanding of racial awareness and inclusivity.
To this end, in 2018, the Sunbridge faculty, board, and administration created the Sunbridge Institute Diversity Fund.
At Sunbridge Institute, we recognize that diverse perspectives and voices are integral components of a vigorous educational community.
The Sunbridge Institute Diversity Fund has been established for the purpose of increasing the representation of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) in Sunbridge teacher education programs. Our intention is to create a more diverse pool of Waldorf teacher education graduates fully prepared to take on educational and leadership roles in Waldorf classrooms and schools.
The Diversity Fund provides scholarship grants specifically for BIPOC who wish to enroll—or complete their enrollment—in Sunbridge’s Early Childhood or Elementary Teacher Education programs and prepare for careers in Waldorf Education within North America.
The Fund also supports projects and programs at Sunbridge that tackle the urgent task of uncovering racism in the Waldorf movement and identifying steps we must take to dismantle it. This work helps us better understand how we become who we are in a racialized society and how that impacts our engagement with the children in our care.
Through an application process, the Diversity Fund provides scholarship awards to BIPOC enrolled in Sunbridge’s Early Childhood and Elementary Teacher Education programs. Diversity Fund resources also help support diversity-based programs and programming.
Susan Howard, MA, MEd, director emerita of Sunbridge’s Early Childhood Teacher Education program, coordinator of the Waldorf Early Childhood Association of North America, and a member of the Coordinating Group of the International Association for Steiner/Waldorf Early Childhood Education co-chairs the Diversity Fund Committee along with Dr. Linda Williams, ’87. Joining Susan and Linda on the Committee are Jessica Heffernan Ziegler, Sunbridge’s executive director; Keelah Helwig ’09, kindergarten teacher and early childhood chair at The Waldorf School of Garden City, and Sunbridge and WECAN Board member; and Vicki Larson, DEI consultant and former director of communications and marketing at Green Meadow Waldorf School.
Candidates for a Sunbridge Diversity Fund Scholarship must:
• Identify as a BIPOC
• Be accepted into a Sunbridge Early Childhood or Elementary Teacher Education diploma program (full or completion track) as either a new student or an already-enrolled returning student
• Be currently working in, or intend to work in, an AWSNA- or WECAN- affiliated school.
Complete an online application.
The regular deadline for Diversity Fund Scholarship applications is May 1, but the earlier you submit your application the more funds there will still be available. The first round of awards is made in mid-March. Additional awards are made on a rolling basis, based on availability of funds.
If you share our interest in this important work, we ask you to join us in supporting the Sunbridge Institute Diversity Fund. While sustaining donors making recurring monthly or quarterly contributions are especially appreciated, we welcome one-time-only gifts of any amount throughout the year.
How to Give
Through the mail
Send your check (made payable to Sunbridge Institute) to:
285 Hungry Hollow Road
Chestnut Ridge, NY 10977
If you have any questions about Sunbridge’s DEI efforts, please contact Meggan Gill, director of education and organizational culture, at [email protected] / 845-425-0055 x12
If you have any questions about the Sunbridge Diversity Fund, please contact Jessica Heffernan Ziegler, executive director, at [email protected] / 845-425-0055 x23
When human beings meet together seeking the spirit with unity of purpose then they will also find their way to each other.
~ Rudolf Steiner