Equity & Diversity

Urban Prairie Waldorf School is an affirming space for all.  

UPWS strives to be an affirming space and is committed to fostering a fully inclusive school community. The curriculum that we deliver offers students both a window into the experiences of others and a mirror to reflect their own life experiences. We actively seek and welcome students and staff regardless of race, ethnicity, nationality, religion, socio-economic background, sexual orientation, or spiritual values. Urban Prairie does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, nationality, ability, family composition, ethnic origin, gender identity, or sexual orientation in the administration of its educational policies, admissions policies, financial assistance programs, and other school-administered programs. 

At the foundation of Waldorf education lies the mission of social renewal. As Waldorf educators, we hold the dignity of life and the human being at the center of our work. It is our responsibility to bear witness to what is happening in the world, to elevate the voices of marginalized people, to change the course of inequities, and to break down structural prejudice in all forms where it exists, particularly in Waldorf education.

Land Acknowledgement

Urban Prairie Waldorf School sits on the ancestral homelands of the Council of Three Fires—the Ojibwa, Ottawa, and Potawatomi tribes—and a place of trade with many other tribes, including the Ho-Chunk, Miami, Menominee, Sauk, and Meskwaki. We recognize that the land we occupy has seen the unfolding of a long and complex social history in Chicago. Follow this link for a full view of our land acknowledgment.

Supporting BIPOC and Transgender & Non-binary

Students and Community Members

Our Policy on Racial and Ethnic Students and Community Members provides a framework through which our school can support authenticity and provide a safe learning environment for students and community members of all races and ethnic identities.

At Urban Prairie Waldorf School, we strive to provide an environment that is supportive, equitable, and free from impediments to learning. We recognize the importance of language and inclusive curricula in the healthy development of all of our students. Appropriate pronoun usage is one way that we provide a welcoming environment. Our Policy on Transgender and Non-binary Students and Community Members provides a framework through which our school can support authenticity and provide a safe learning environment for transgender and non-binary people.

Conscious Communication 

A cornerstone of inclusivity is communication. Urban Prairie strives to foster healthy relationships between all members of our community. We ask all members of the Urban Prairie school community to make a personal commitment to undertaking honest, direct, and respectful communication. This is best done in an atmosphere supported by trust and compassion, where all parties are invested in the best interests of the children. We genuinely seek to create an environment that supports the growth of all members of our community.

Three Streams of Student Support

Urban Prairie Waldorf School is committed to providing a safe environment for all students to learn and grow into healthy and responsible citizens. The Three Streams of Student Support provide a structure for this environment and enable us to better assist students who are having difficulties educationally, socially, or behaviorally.

This work is based on Kim John Payne’s thoughts on student development and support and pulls heavily from the ideas of restorative justice and social-emotional intelligence.  Urban Prairie began this work in March 2016 when Mr. Payne first visited our school to teach the teachers.  We have an on-going relationship with Mr. Payne that includes annual visits and monthly calls to continue to support our burgeoning program.

The three streams include Therapeutic and Educational Care, Social Inclusion, and Guidance & Discipline.  The Social Inclusion Coordinator also works closely with the eighth grade students who form the Student Action Committee.  These students assume a leadership role in our school, working with younger students as mediators, helpers, and mentors.

Click here for more information about the Three Streams Program. 

2019-20 Student Diversity

In 2019-20, 37.2%, or 48 of 129 students, identified as non-white/Caucasian. These include 6 Asian, 4 Black, 11 Latinx, and 27 who are of two or more races. If you have questions about diversity and inclusion at Urban Prairie, please contact our Enrollment Management Director, Jenn Zielinski, Jenn.zielinski@urbanprairie.org.


How to talk to children about racism and violence: Resources for teachers, parents, and guardians

Anti-racism Resources for White People: A compilation of resources for white people and parents to deepen our work in anti-racism

Array Now: Started by Ava DuVernay, director of Now They See Us, this is a compilation of African American independent films – an array of stories and voices.

Teaching Tolerance: Teaching about race, racism, and police violence

75 Things White People Can Do for Racial Justice: Curated by Medium and updated regularly


  • If you have questions about how the UPWS curriculum reflects our commitment to LGBTQIA+, gender, race, and ethnic inclusivity, please contact Enrollment Director Jenn Zielinksi at jenn.zielinksi@urbanprairie.org. 
  • Current parents may contact their child’s class teacher to learn more about how we incorporate “windows” and “mirrors” to highlight the broad spectrum of human experience.
  • Individuals with disabilities should notify Urban Prairie’s Americans with Disabilities Act Title II Coordinator, Peggy Lofgren, Director of Operations, if they have a disability that will require special assistance or services and, if so, what services are required. This notification should occur as far as possible before the school-sponsored function, program, or meeting. 
  • Follow this link for the Association of Waldorf Schools of North America (AWSNA) Member Commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, adopted in June 2019, and here are AWSNA’s strategic priorities, of which advancing DEI is a guiding force.