Equity, Inclusion & Justice

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. We actively stand against hatred, prejudice and discrimination.

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.

We support inclusivity at our school by: 

  • Ongoing evaluation and development of Waldorf curriculum that reflects the richness of the human experience represented both in our school community and within our city. 
  • Faculty, Administration, and Board participation in relevant trainings (ie: Illinois Safe Schools and Seeking Educational Equity and Diversity), discussions, and studies. 
  • Providing gender-neutral bathroom facilities. 
  • Actively seeking and welcoming students and staff of many different races, ethnicities, nationalities, religions, socio-economic backgrounds, sexual orientations, gender expressions, physical ability, and spiritual values. 
  • Promoting cultural awareness through parent education events, festivals, and other activities. 
  • Encouraging open dialogue among faculty, staff, and community members about implicit bias and systemic oppression. 

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 with 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 ongoing relationship with Mr. Payne that includes annual visits and monthly calls to support our burgeoning program.

The three streams include Therapeutic and Educational CareSocial 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.


The National S.E.E.D. Project 

S.E.E.D. (Seeking Educational Equity and Diversity) Mission
The National SEED Project is a peer-led personal and professional development program that creates conversational communities to drive personal, organizational, and societal change toward greater equity and diversity. To learn more about the National SEED Project, please click here.
Urban Prairie Waldorf School is proud to be a SEED’ed school with annual SEED sessions for Faculty/Staff & UP Families, facilitated by a trained staff member. 


Student Diversity

In 2020-21, 41%, or 49 of 120 students, identify as Students of Color; 20% Multiracial, 12% Latino/a/x, 4% Black, 3% Asian and 2% Middle Eastern. 

If you would like to hear more about diversity, equity, and inclusion at Urban Prairie, we welcome you to contact our Enrollment Management Director, Jenn Zielinski, at 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.
  • Americans with Disabilities Act Title II Coordinator – Individuals with disabilities should notify Urban Prairie’s Americans with Disabilities Act Title II Coordinator, AJ Lee, Director of Operations, at aj.lee@urbanprairie.org, 312-733-5337, 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. 
  • Title IX Compliance Officer – Urban Prairie Waldorf School has identified AJ Lee, Director of Operations, aj.lee@urbanprairie.org, 312-733-5337, to act as its Compliance Officer under the Title IX policy and Section 504. The Compliance Officer shall be responsible for coordinating the School’s effort to meet its responsibilities under this policy. The Compliance Officer will receive and investigate any complaints filed under this policy and make recommendations to the Head of School for the prompt and equitable resolution of complaints. The School will provide its Compliance Officer and staff with appropriate training on this policy and their obligations hereunder. Title IX Training – UPWS_full slides
  • 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.