Diversity, Equity, and Belonging

At Marin Academy, we believe in developing talent and ensuring every community member has the access and sense of belonging necessary to nurture and share their multitudes of diverse strengths and identities.

Our Philosophy


Attract and retain a student and employee body and a board that reflects the broad cultural identifiers of the Bay Area.


Provide each individual in the community with equitable opportunities to thrive and offer a rage of support based on individual and group needs.


Create an environment in which each individual feels safe enough and invited to be their full and authentic selves in our community. 

Our Approach

Below we invite you to explore some dynamic examples of how our diversity, equity, and belonging work looks in the classroom and community.
students sitting on couches and talking

MA hosted a pizza lunch featuring a panel of recent alums who are multilingual and grew up speaking mostly Spanish at home. The alums shared their challenges and successes at MA with current MA students. One of a series of "Belonging@MA" lunches which aim to create opportunities for students who don't always see themselves reflected in the majority culture at MA, yet very much belong here, this event was led by Pilar Góngora, Family Liaison, and co-designed by Juliet Dana, Director of Student Inclusion and Belonging. 

In Pilar’s role as Family Liaison, she strives to ensure all families feel a sense of belonging and experience equitable access at MA. She coordinates translation for interested families, often serving as a Spanish translator herself for school events from Welcome Day through graduation. She provides translation for written communications from the school, identifies and collaborates with translators in other languages, reaches out to families to encourage them to attend events, and organizes meetings with families, advisors, learning services, or college counseling to make sure parents and guardians can be present in their student’s academic experience without barriers. 

Several students at the lunch event talked about what a fierce advocate Pilar had been for them—how they knew she had their backs while they navigated this predominantly white and monolingual-English-speaking school community. One of the students in attendance turned to Pilar, and with tears in her eyes, told Pilar how instrumental she had been in helping her, expressing profound gratitude for that support. “I leaned on our community,” she said. “They're the ones who got me through.''

Pilar Gongora, Marin Academy Family Liaison
people in circle with others running through middle

MA launched its Identity and Equity (IDEQ) program in 2004. These IDEQ groups center around shared identities (including racial, gender, sexual orientation, religion, ability, and others), and while the number and configurations of groups have changed over time in response to our student body, all groups consistently maintain goals around social justice. Some groups provide affinity spaces, where people with a common identity can come together to build community and talk openly about their experiences and concerns, while open groups focus on community building, outreach, and activism within or beyond the MA community. 

We currently have 36 10th-, 11th-, and 12th-grade student leaders at the helm of 17 student-led organizations in our IDEQ cohort. Student leaders are selected through an application and interview process, and they receive training in facilitation, leadership, and social justice; every group is supported by at least one adult in the community. Leadership training includes an annual day-long IDEQ leadership retreat prior to the start of the school year. During the retreat, students learn about and reflect upon the long and rich history of the IDEQ program, and they articulate the current and future vision for their organizations and the leadership cohort. Adult advisors join them to develop or refine mission statements for their groups, for community building fun, and for event planning for the upcoming year. 

The IDEQ leaders meet as a cohort throughout the school year through leadership lunches organized by the Director of Student Inclusion and Belonging. In addition, they host lunch meetings for celebrations, guest speakers, working on current events, or simply connecting. The goal of the program is for students to build and demonstrate leadership capacity through their particular IDEQ organization and their engagement with the leadership cohort.

The foundation of MA’s Human Development class is built on enhancing and heightening self and social awareness. The class allows space for students to question themselves and each other about developmental aspects of identity formation, adolescence, and relationships.

Students participate in exercises that give them the opportunity to think about their identity, how it correlates with those around them, and how to visualize it in new ways. In addition to discussing individual identity, the class focuses on identity within a social and historical context.


Identity grahic

As they are encouraged to recognize how identity plays a role in the choices they make and how their social experiences shape how they live their lives, students can begin to appreciate how some identity groups have been historically included and others historically excluded, which has created privilege and oppression. This increased knowledge of and awareness about identity, privilege, and oppression results in an enhanced ability to discuss the inequities between identity groups. A major objective of the course is to provide students with an opportunity to engage across difference and still appreciate and respect each others perspectives.

headshot of teacher Marisa Gomez

Marisa Gomez,
 English Department Chair

The annual process of evaluating inclusivity and curating new content and texts to ensure diverse perspectives is a core practice of the Marin Academy English Department.  Authors and materials are continually updated, resulting in an ever-evolving and living curriculum. Students provide valuable feedback by sharing their experiences with the text, identifying what they relate to as well as any areas of discomfort, and reflecting on what they find valuable. The goal is to create a climate in the classroom where all students feel supported and safe and are engaging in these conversations. 

For example, this year the English 3 course, “American Dreams & Realities” opened with a new unit designed to support students in their conversations about race in America. Students read excerpts from Ijeoma Oluo’s So You Want to Talk About Race as well as other contemporary shorter works by writers such as Nikole Hannah-Jones and Ken Liu. Students placed these works in conversation with poetry from the "New Negro Movement" of the 20th century and discussed in class the levels of oppression and how we can create change at personal, interpersonal, and institutional levels. Other recent additions to the English curriculum include Malaka Gharib’s I Was Their American Dream and Julie Otsuka’s When the Emperor Was Divine (English 1); Gabriel García Márquez’s Chronicle of a Death Foretold and Lesley Nneka Arimah’s What It Means When a Man Falls from the Sky (English 2); and Lisa Ko’s The Leavers (English 3).



Marin Academy's 4 Penn Fellows

In 2022, Marin Academy announced a groundbreaking partnership with the University of Pennsylvania's Graduate School of Education. This collaboration highlights our commitment to innovative teaching as well as the training support, and professional development of aspiring faculty of color. As one of only 13 leading independent day schools selected nationwide, we're thrilled to be Penn’s first and only Independent School Teaching Residency (ISTR) program in the West. The program is now in full swing, with four fantastic teaching Fellows on campus. 

Our Penn Fellows program gives us an extraordinary opportunity to grow and evolve the next generation of teachers. The teaching fellows on our campus inspire our thinking, encourage us to question our practices, and help us create a more inclusive community. Marin Academy sees its responsibility in this democratic society as going beyond the classroom to provide opportunities for new educators and share our competency-based and equity-driven instructional toolkit with future teachers. 

At Penn, teachers are immersed in justice-centered reflective practice and taught to approach education from an intersectional and liberatory perspective. As such, the Fellows we invite to our campus and to our community are both learning from us and teaching us about the ways in which we, too, can work to embody the foundational principles of the ISTR program and engage in community-based work that is purposeful, iterative, systematic, critically reflective, agentive, and hopeful.

Claude Steele presenting at Marin Academy

MA faculty and staff engaged in professional development sessions with both Dr. Dena Simmons, an expert on articulating and addressing the crucial intersections between social and emotional learning and racial justice work, and Dr. Claude Steele, a social psychologist and author of Whistling Vivalidi who has conducted a great deal of research and written about navigating stereotype threat and churn in interracial interactions. Both scholars and educators spoke about transforming our pedagogy and facilitating student experiences in a way that creates safe, inclusive, and transformative environments for all students. 

During both sessions, employees reflected upon the importance of learning a student’s full story so that all students can thrive in a socially diverse community. Dr. Simmons and Dr. Steele challenged faculty and staff to consider how to proactively build trust into pedagogies towards the goal of fostering the safety and belonging of socially minoritized students. In particular, Dr. Steele offered up researched practices for how to systematize building educational spaces that will lead to thriving multicultural communities. MA faculty and staff will continue to reflect on creating and refining student support practices that intentionally eliminate barriers so that we can continue the important work of creating a diverse, thriving, multicultural, and racially integrated community at Marin Academy.

teacher in mask talking in front of class

Each year in 9th-grade Ethnic Studies, students learn about and reflect on different types of community cultural wealth, affirming the fact that communities—and especially communities of color—possess many different types of capital and power. Some of these types of wealth include the power of aspirations and dreams, the power of being multilingual, the power of an extensive family network, the power of utilizing social resource networks, and the power of learning how to navigate many types of societal institutions. 9th graders progress from expanding their notion of wealth and power to applying a critical lens to their consumption of media. In groups, they have the opportunity to choose a piece of popular media—often a show or a movie that they love and enjoy—and to analyze the ways in which that media reinforces or challenges the dominant social order. During all of these activities and lessons, students are continually reflecting on their autoethnography and how their understanding of their own identities and positions develops throughout the course.

A group of 9th- and 10th-grade students who came to Marin Academy from one of our valued Community Based Organizations or from a Community Partner School embarked on an adventure to Santa Cruz to form connections with each other and to experience an MA Outing. The trip kicked off with a tour of the University of California at Santa Cruz, led by staff member Joann Gatine, a former Banana Slug! The students enjoyed exploring the expansive and beautiful campus while lingering in the “Moat” where they viewed some of the student-created vibrant works of art around themes of activism, social justice, and community. After enjoying some of Santa Cruz’s best ice cream, the group settled in to their campsite, organizing games and cooking a delicious fireside dinner. Seeing the sunrise was a perk to an early morning surf lesson, followed by free time at the Santa Cruz boardwalk. Students attended their grade orientations, having made and solidified friendships with each other, and prepared to thrive as the school year began. 


Students of Color

81% Average Tuition Assistance Award

Students on Tuition Assistance


Faculty of Color


Piya Kashyap

Piya Kashyap

Dean of Equity and Inclusion
Juliet Dana

Juliet Dana

Co-Director of Student Belonging, History Teacher, Human Development Teacher, Penn Mentor
Pilar Góngora

Pilar Góngora

Spanish Teacher, Family Liaison, Co-Director Student Belonging
Joann Gatine

Joann Gatine

Associate Director of Admissions for Belonging