ATLANTA — The U.S. Department of Education has selected the Southern Education Foundation (SEF) to receive a five-year, $8.4 million grant to manage the Equity Assistance Center (EAC) for the Southern region of the United States.

SEF will now manage the federal Equity Assistance Center-South (EAC-South), serving 11 states—Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia—and the District of Columbia.

Four EACs across the nation assist K-12 school districts, state education agencies, and others in resolving disparities and challenges in educational achievement and opportunity.

“The Southern Education Foundation appreciates this recognition by the U.S. Department of Education for our ability to manage the EAC-South,” said Raymond Pierce, SEF’s President and CEO. “Our longstanding legacy and ongoing work in the development of public education and the advancement of equity provides us with the capabilities to aid in the continuous improvement of educational opportunity in the Southern states.”

SEF is partnering with Westat, a Maryland-based research and capacity-building firm, to help provide EAC-South’s technical assistance to school systems, helping public schools use research-based strategies and tools to identify and address disparities in education. Westat prioritizes diversity, equity, and inclusion as both organizational values and a framework for its research, capacity building, and evaluation services.

The EACs were originally established as the federal Desegregation Assistance Centers under Title IV of the 1964 Civil Rights Act at the height of the nation’s challenges with school desegregation.

The EACs provide technical assistance and training, upon request, in the areas of race, sex, national origin, and religion to public school districts and other responsible governmental agencies to promote equitable education opportunities. The EACs work in the areas of civil rights, equity, and school reform, helping schools and communities ensure that equitable educational opportunities are available and accessible for all children.

Originally founded in 1867 to educate Black children and children from low-income families in the South, the Southern Education Foundation continues to advance educational opportunity and equity. SEF is based in Atlanta, Georgia.