Equity Alliance MN

Tax ID:


Tax-Exempt Status:



Woodbury, Minnesota




Nonprofit DEI Consultant

Executive Director:

Sebastian Witherspoon

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Equity Alliance MN is a left-of-center educational consulting nonprofit that evolved from operating several magnet schools. The organization states that it works to promote educational equity and improve student outcomes. Its approach is grounded in critical race theory and it openly states that race and culture are of fundamental importance to the way people think and act. 1

The organization been criticized by parents for the content of its programs and way its “equity surveys” were administered. This criticism has resulted in the cancellation of at least one contract, with a school board member alleging that the district had been “scammed” by the group. 2

Founding and History

Equity Alliance MN was originally formed in 1995 as the East Metro Integration District. The organization operated several schools that were focused on providing “culturally relevant learning,” until the Minnesota Legislature conveyed the schools to different school districts in 2014. The organization rebranded itself as the Equity Alliance MN and provides “equity audits” to Minnesota schools and runs various educational programs for both students and adults. 3 Since it achieved tax-exempt status in 2019, the organization has generated more business, reportedly working with eight school districts, but the organization has also generated backlash that has resulted in cancelled contracts. 4


In at least two instances, Equity Alliance MN’s work with school districts has resulted in controversy and cancellation of the organization’s contracts with the school districts.

Centennial School District

The Centennial School District has worked with Equity Alliance MN since 2016. However, the school district’s move to join Equity Alliance MN sparked a backlash from community members. 5 The proposed contract would have resulted in the school district paying $125,000 for the first year of membership, including $50,700 “equity audit” and $28,000 for an “equity action plan,” with a second year cost of $38,500. 6 Ultimately, the school district held off from joining the organization as a full member, and instead only commissioned an “equity survey.” 7

Sartell-St. Stephen School District

The Sartell-St. Stephen School District entered into a contract, worth over $80,000, with Equity Alliance MN on September 10, 2020. 8 However, in summer 2021, parents and community members became concerned about the group’s equity audit, especially when a student stated that she had been instructed to hide the survey from her parents. School board officials also expressed dissatisfaction with the survey and the fact that Equity Alliance refused the school district’s request to view the survey questions. One school board member stated that the organization had “scammed” the board and did not perform the contracted work “properly, legally, or ethically.” The school district terminated the contract and sought a refund for services not yet delivered. 9 10

Services and Programs

Equity Alliance MN offers a variety of programs and services for both individuals, students, and school districts that are race and culture centric. 11 These services, such as “equity audits” and racial and implicit bias self-awareness courses, are designed to promote race consciousness at schools. 12 The organization also runs a variety of in-school, after-school, and summer programs geared for children of varying ages. 13


In 2019, the year it received tax exempt status, Equity Alliance MN did not have more than $50,000 in revenue and as a result filed a 990-N “e-Postcard” form that does not contain detailed information. 14 The organization has signed contracts with school districts worth more than $50,000 since then; financial details will become available once the group’s 2020 and subsequent years’ tax returns become public. 15


Sebastian Witherspoon is the executive director of Equity Alliance MN. He has worked in various education roles for more than 20 years, with a focus on racial and equity issues, and is currently writing a doctoral dissertation on “anti-racist school systems.” 16


  1. Equity Alliance MN. “About Equity Alliance MN.” Accessed November 12, 2021.
  2. Newland, Erik. “Sartell-St. Stephen to Cut Ties with Equity Alliance MN over Equity Audit Backlash.” St. Cloud Times. August 3, 2021.
  3. Equity Alliance. “Who We Are.” Accessed November 11, 2021.
  4. Parents Defending Education. “Equity Alliance MN.” Accessed November 11, 2021.
  5. Granholm, Shannon. “Equity Topic Takes Over School Board Meeting.” Press Publications. May 18, 2021.
  6. “Equity Alliance MN-Centennial School District Contract.” Alpha News. May 5, 2021.
  7. Granholm, Shannon. “School Board Continues Equity Discussion.” Press Publications. June 8, 2021.
  8. “Equity Alliance MN-Sartell-St. Stephen School District Contract.” Alpha News. September 10, 2020.
  9. Newland, Erik. “Sartell-St. Stephen to Cut Ties with Equity Alliance MN over Equity Audit Backlash.” St. Cloud Times. August 3, 2021.
  10. Kaufman, A. J. “‘Very Uncomfortable’: Sartell Student Says She Was Asked to Hide ‘Equity Survey’ from Parents.” Alpha News. July 22, 2021.
  11. “Who We Are.” Equity Alliance MN. Accessed November 11, 2021.
  12. “Services.” Equity Alliance MN. Accessed November 12, 2021.
  13. “Programs.” Equity Alliance MN. Accessed November 12, 2021.
  14. “Details about Alliance for Educational Equity.” Accessed November 12, 2021.,%20DETERMINATIONLETTERS,%20EPOSTCARD&orgTags=CHARITIES&orgTags=DETERMINATIONLETTERS&orgTags=EPOSTCARD.
  15. Gockowski, Anthony. “Minnesota Schools Spend Big on Equity Consultants.” Tennessee Star. July 26, 2021.
  16. “Sebastian Witherspoon.” Equity Alliance MN. Accessed November 12, 2021.
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Nonprofit Information

  • Accounting Period: June - May
  • Tax Exemption Received: August 1, 2018

  • Available Filings

    No filings available.