Equity and Inclusion

April 14, 2020
Two students outside

In 2017, Exeter made its initial pledge to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion initiatives in the form of a DEI Vision Statement, which states, “Our commitment to our community is to do more than assemble a diverse population of students and adults: our commitment is to teach the skills, model the behaviors, provide the resources, and cultivate the environment of inclusion that is required to unlock the richness of that diversity.”

Roughly three years later, on June 5, 2020, Principal Bill Rawson and his fellow Trustees responded to the brutal killings of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor with a heartfelt letter to the Exeter community, which frankly acknowledged that “we have much work to do to achieve our diversity, equity, and inclusion vision.”


Gifts to The Exeter Fund designated to Equity and Inclusion support Exeter’s vision to ensure each member of the community has the tools to flourish. This funding sustains the Office of Equity and Inclusion and the Office of Multicultural Affairs, and provides community-wide programs and curricular developments in support of creating and sustaining a more diverse and inclusive campus.

The letter also outlined a series of action steps, which gifts to The Exeter Fund's Equity and Inclusion designation support, that the Academy would take to strengthen its dedication to making Exeter a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive community, including:

  • increasing the diversity of teaching faculty and leadership positions;
  • requiring a willingness, particularly on the part of the white members of the community, to be actively and effectively anti-racist; supporting Black students and students of color by listening to their feedback and involving them in this important work; and
  • forming a DEI Task Force to engage with faculty, staff, and administrators.

Each of these initiatives is now underway and can be further engrained in our daily work. Additionally, we are excited that the Class of 2026 is the first group of students to have been accepted through the Academy’s need-blind admissions process, a pivotal step towards fulfilling our DEI vision.

Today, 50.6% of the Exeter community identify as students of color. There are also more than 25 affinity groups and clubs, such as the African Student Association, Asian Voices, Feminist Union, Queer Kids of Color, and others, that celebrate our increasingly diverse population. Our community actively engages in the difficult conversations that are necessary to promote a more equitable environment for all.

Much of this discussion centers on “The Core Values Project: Conversations about Antioppression, Community Values, and Justice.” The community meets in project groups every Tuesday to focus on topics ranging from examining how bias functions in artificial intelligence technology to discussing how to have a more inclusive culture in athletics. David Chen ’23 has been working with classmates to promote racial equity by contributing to a campus-wide initiative as part of his CVP project. Chen’s group is creating educational materials and short-form digital content focused on current events. The project’s structure is based on a national organization, Diversify Our Narrative, which supports anti-racism on campuses across the country.

The initiatives of CVP project groups like Chen’s are student-driven, originating with student facilitators who “pitch” their project ideas to the entire student body and faculty on the Academy Building lawn. Other pitches include Lucy Meyer-Braun’s ’23 co-led project, “Flip the Script,” which intends to build a Harkness class for Exeter teachers. “We want to convey what conversations, norms, and topics we still think are missing from our classrooms,” she told her fellow students and would-be partners during her pitch. “If you have any ideas about what is still missing (from our curriculum) and what you want to see improved, please join.” 

"The Core Values Project was initiated in 2021 as a weekly opportunity for students, faculty, and staff to talk about how we, as a community, live the Academy’s core values of embracing youth from every quarter and learning from each other’s differences."

Faculty and staff are active participants. In some scenarios, campus adults provide guidance and student support, whereas in others they are invited to learn best practices from students, such as in the case of “Supporting Students of Color One-on-One,” a project designed as a how-to guide for faculty about interactions with students of color ranging from mental health, cultural stigmas, reaching out, and the effects on academic and athletic performance.


Exeter has been able to offer meaningful and educational programming and individual support to our diverse community because of this intentional philanthropy designated to Equity and Inclusion. These gifts propel us to keep having the tough conversations, doing the work, and moving towards a more equitable and inclusive future.

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