What if every child in America experienced equitable, high-quality learning opportunities?

The path to equity is filled with complex decisions – made one step at a time, using best available evidence.

Research is crucial.

Together, the University of Kentucky and NAACP are working with communities and educators to produce the scientific evidence needed to help policy-makers reach decisions and transform lives.



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Imagine being asked to make a decision that has the potential to influence the educational experience of students – for better or worse. How will you decide?

Our initiative, in collaboration with the NAACP, helps avoid decision-making based on a belief or hunch. Important choices are best made when using well-designed, credible research and white papers as a guide.

We are using this research to address issues of inequity and discrimination among underserved populations in Kentucky and beyond. This includes race-based discrimination, as well as students who are marginalized in the education sector based on ability, gender, ethnicity, age, class, religion, sexuality, and other markers. These frequently do not exist independently of one another, so faculty, students, and staff are also exploring the nuances of intersectional identities.

These research-supported decisions stand to help transform prospects for the millions of students in our nation who lack access to a high-quality education where they feel safe and supported.

Greg Vincent

“When an individual is able to see themselves self-reflected and protected in Civil Rights laws, they become a more invested, engaged, and thriving member of society. We believe that full protections of civil rights are good for society, community, education, and business. This initiative is positioned to help educate and train future educators, and community leaders of the Commonwealth to understand how civil rights laws are, as President Obama said, ‘an essential piece of American character.’” – Dr. Gregory Vincent, Executive Director


The NAACP – the nation’s largest and most preeminent civil rights organization – has never before collaborated with a higher education institution. By locking arms with an organization of this size and scope, our work will be amplified through the NAACP’s various networks.

When academics write peer-reviewed journal articles or textbooks, they sometimes reach only a small audience of scholars. This initiative takes high-level, peer-reviewed work in equity and social justice and makes it more readily available to communities.

We do not conjure up topics that interest us and dive in. The findings we produce are derived from the voices of those who will ultimately be impacted – students, teachers, families, school leaders, and communities.

By having ground-level conversations, we focus on the research that communities want.

We will further amplify this work through:

  • rapid release of research summary briefs and white papers to respond to education issues that arise in local, state, and national contexts;
  • workshops in response to areas of concern for teachers (such as workshops for teachers to better develop anti-racist learning activities, civil rights curriculums, and trauma-informed education practices);
  • community listening sessions;
  • grants to support research relevant to the initiative’s mission;
  • opportunities for faculty and students to become affiliates of the initiative and to collaborate on research, scholarship, and projects impacting communities;
  • paid or for-credit internships for undergraduate students interested in education-focused civil rights and equity work;
  • funded research assistantships for graduate level students;
  • symposiums highlighting work produced by the initiative;
  • education briefings and convenings of institute fellows, NAACP national board members, and state and local NAACP education chairs;
  • summits for educators and K-12 youth to engage in conversations about and understanding of local laws and rights;
  • civil rights mediation support to schools and communities; and
  • consultations on civil rights themed curriculum needs.
Our Education and Civil Rights Initiative with the NAACP is becoming a celebrated and sought-after feature of our college among current and prospective students.

With this work, students have the opportunity to be part of a college that is putting social justice, educational equity, and civil rights work at the forefront.

They have opportunities to connect with nationally-recognized faculty to pursue research and scholarly work in areas that impact historically marginalized communities, including communities of color.

Our students understand that if children have access to quality education, there is no limit to their potential contribution to a democratic society.


Connect With Us

Sarah LaCour
Assistant Director
Mariama J. Lockington
Research Administrative Coordinator
photo of Dr. Vincent
Executive Director

Feel free to also connect with us via email at CivilRightsInstitute@nulluky.edu.

Upcoming Events

Education as a Civil Rights (Virtual Conference)—April 7-9th, 2022

In the News

UKNow: UK Launches Civil Rights and Education Initiative With NAACP

Washington Post: NAACP launches new civil rights and education initiative with University of Kentucky

WKYT: The Breakdown with UK College of Education Dean, Julian Vasquez Heilig