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The Early Childhood Equity and Justice Challenge

By: Krista Allison, Sadie Bonifas, Molly Hagkull, and Liz Hibbs, Groundwork Ohio’s 2020 Early Childhood Leadership Fellows

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As members of Groundwork Ohio’s inaugural Early Childhood Leadership Fellowship in 2020, we four, along with Helen Mattheis and Camille Harris, comprised a small group tasked with creating action steps to address equity in early childhood. With the guidance of former Groundwork staff members Julia Jackels and Julia Hohner, we settled on creating what became The Early Childhood Equity and Justice Challenge, a 10-day challenge to foster awareness of race, culture, equity, and justice in the early childhood system. We recognize the need for all stakeholders in the early childhood space to create equitable practices that will dismantle systemic racism and advance social justice. Our challenge provides education around the many facets of racial equity (beyond just the opportunity gaps in school systems) with the goal of building empathy and empowerment for early childhood professionals so they may better serve all children and families.

In April of 2022 we had our first opportunity to share this work as presenters at the Ohio AEYC virtual statewide conference. We created an OA approved, abridged 90-minute version of our challenge focusing on Day 2: How to talk to children about race. Through self-assessment, study of articles and data, analysis of classroom videos, reflection questions, conversation, and investigation of classroom resources, participants were able to acknowledge their current strengths and imagine areas for growth. We were pleased by the thoughtful engagement of the educators, and we look forward to facilitating our complete 15-hour course pending OA approval.

We remain committed to the idea that Anti-Racist/Anti-Bias teaching and curriculum is a powerful step in the march toward a just and equitable world. We may not be able to fix the entire world, but we can encourage folks to start with their homes and their classrooms. Listening and watching early learning teachers participate together during our session with vulnerability and courage gives us hope for the future!

Groundwork Ohio’s Early Childhood Leadership Fellowship provides emerging early childhood professionals with essential training and support needed to enhance their leadership skills and talents. Please visit for program details.


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