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Our Programs

Founded in 1968, at the height of the Civil Rights Movement, Burke was racially integrated, co-educational, and secular from its first day – even eschewing rules as to students' hair and dress. In the 21st century, we are responsible both to our school's founding vision and to its evolution. Schools, like all institutions, are not immune to the prejudices and biases that infuse our nation. An inclusive, welcoming school community is an ongoing project – and how we foster it will change and develop over time. 

By design, Burke brings together students (and adults) "who are different from one another in many ways." Our Equity & Inclusion Department takes a comprehensive view of the school experience, from reviewing policies to assisting with new curriculum, to ensure that students from myriad backgrounds and identities are able to thrive here – academically, extracurricularly, socially. 

Here are some ways that work looks in practice:

List of 8 items.

  • Affinity Spaces

    "Affinity groups help create a “brave space” in which people can explore issues of shared identities and experiences; they can affirm their emotional and intellectual responses to being part of a distinct subset of the larger school community." - Ashley Greene, The Churchill School and Center in New York City

    • Asian Student Association
    • Black Girls Meet
    • Black Student Union
    • Boys Leading Boys
    • Examining White Privilege and Allyship
    • Faith in Focus
    • FemCo (Feminist Cooperative)
    • Fusion
    • Latine / Hispanic Student Union
    • Jewish Affinity Group
    • Rainbow Umbrella
    • Students Against Ableism
    • Young Black Men
  • Annual Conferences

    In recent years, students and faculty have attended:

    • Belonging in Gender and Sexual Identity (BGSI)
    • Diversity in the DMV
    • Georgetown Day School Sexual Assault and Consent Summit
    • GLEAN (Girls Leadership, Empowerment, and Networking) Conference
    • Independent School Gender and Sexuality Awareness Summit
    • NAIS Student Diversity Leadership Conference
    • St. Andrew’s Episcopal School Middle School Diversity Conference
  • Anti-Racist Classrooms

    In Fall 2022, all faculty and staff participated in a training with The Wells Collective, led by Dr. Shari Berga and Akailah McIntyre. They were guided through personal reflections around their own identities, the ways systems of oppression manifest in school culture, and given tools to make equitable choices within the classroom. Our Board of Trustees participated in a similar training in February, also with The Wells Collective.

  • Athletics Training

    In partnership with our Athletic Department, Sharielle A. (Equity, Inclusion & Civic Engagement) created and facilitated a training with Burke's coaches that covered characteristics of an equitable team, stereotypes, and discrimination in sports.

    This training will occur at the start of every trimester, and all coaches are required to attend.
  • Department Leadership

    Sharielle Applewhite, MSW
    Director of Equity, Inclusion, and Civic Engagement

    University of Connecticut - B.A.
    Hunter College - M.S.W. (Master of Social Work)

    202-362-8882 x657
  • Equity & Inclusion Coordinators

    Our Director of Equity, Inclusion & Civic Engagement works closely with four coordinators, faculty and staff members who are dedicated to advancing equity in different areas of school life. In 2022-23, they are:

    • Ginger A. (MS / HS History)
    • Jadéa A. (Asst. Director of Communications / Yearbook)
    • Karen K. (Asst. to the Head of School / 9th Grade Advisor)
    • Madison H. D. '14 (MS / HS English)
  • Gender and Sexuality Series

    Last school year, Matison H. D. '14 (English) developed the Gender and Sexuality Series, a presentation that explores gender identity and expression, inclusive language, and social activism through an intersectional framework. Matison delivered the presentation during grade meetings in 2022-23 and held follow-up discussions in advisory and homeroom.
  • Task Forces

    Reaching Equity and Change Taskforce (REACT)
    A collective of high school students that works to combat "identity based discrimination in the school community through discussions and behind-the scene advocacy work"

Leadership & Equity Coordinators

List of 5 members.

  • Photo of Sharielle Applewhite

    Sharielle Applewhite 

    Director of Equity, Inclusion, and Civic Engagement
    Year Appointed: 2021
  • Photo of Jadéa Asante

    Jadéa Asante 

    Assistant Director of Communications / Yearbook
    Year Appointed: 2019
  • Photo of Ginger Attarian

    Ginger Attarian 

    MS & HS History
    Year Appointed: 1996
  • Photo of Matison Hearn-Desautels

    Matison Hearn-Desautels 

    MS & HS English
    Year Appointed: 2020
  • Photo of Karen Klautky

    Karen Klautky 

    Assistant to the Head of School
    Year Appointed: 1997

List of 2 items.

  • Civic Engagement Programs

    Every year, students experience an integrated civics, equity, and leadership curriculum, in partnership with nonprofit organizations. For example:
    • High School -  10th graders delve into Action Civics, completing the Soapbox Project with Mikva Challenge DC
    • Middle School - 8th graders study the American Civil Rights Movement, leading up to a week-long trip to Alabama in the spring
    Before participating in trips or service learning, students work towards a nuanced understanding of the community with which they will engage, including root cause discussions.

    > Learn more here.
  • Tuition & Financial Aid at Burke

    According to US News, "education experts say the cost of private schools is often the largest barrier to creating more racial and ethnic diversity" (2021). 

    At Burke, need-based Financial Aid is a top priority, constituting 15% of our budget annually and providing aid to more than one-third of our families. Financial Aid supports participation in all school-sponsored academic and extracurricular activities, ensuring that school life is fully open to every student. Burke also provides financial assistance with the morning bus and lunch service.

    Our Board of Trustees has also prioritized slowing tuition growth overall, and Burke continues to include books, field trips, and materials in the cost of tuition.
    • Faith in Focus

    • Black Girls Meet

    • Jewish Affinity Group

Our Context

While famously dubbed "the great equalizer" by Horace Mann in 1848, educational opportunity in the United States was – and yet remains – inequitable in its offerings and outcomes. In the mid and late-20th century, landmark court cases and legislation greatly broadened educational access for long-marginalized groups. But much remains to be done. Following these historic advancements, how do schools ensure equity on their own scale?
Co-ed, progressive, college prep school in Washington, DC featuring a challenging curriculum in an inclusive environment for grades 6-12.
4101 Connecticut Ave NW Washington, DC 20008    |    Phone: 202-362-8882    |    Fax: 202-362-1914