ACT’s Equity Speakers Series

How to Use the Participatory Research Model to advance education equity, advocacy, and success.


Date:  Thursday, Feb. 15, 2024
Time:  2:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. ET

As part of ACT’s ongoing commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility, ACT’s Center for Equity in Learning invites leaders, researchers, and practitioners to share knowledge and insights regarding the intersection of education, workforce, and equity through the ACT’s Equity Speakers Series. This year, we are pleased to invite Rhonda Broussard, founder and CEO of Beloved Community and author of “One Good Question: How Countries Prepare Youth To Lead,” along with Samarah Bentley, a student at Louisiana State University, to share insights on the power and promise of participatory research design.

Participatory Research (PR) is like a teamwork approach to studying important issues. Instead of researchers working alone, they team up directly with the people who are affected by the topic they're studying. The goal is to look at the subject of the research in a systematic way and work together to make a positive impact or bring about change. In simpler terms, PR involves bringing in people who may not be experts in research but know a lot about the subject because they live it every day. Instead of treating them as subjects, like in traditional research, PR treats them as partners. It's not just researchers doing the work; it's a collaboration with the people who know the most about the situation.

As a change agent in diversity, equity, inclusion, and international education, Broussard believes that engaging the expertise of communities representing people of color is essential when seeking to build effective educational practices that meet the needs of students from diverse backgrounds. Building from Broussard’s more than 20 years of work, this event will explore the value of expanding our understanding of rigor to include work done in partnership with the communities we seek to serve. The webinar will introduce the concept of “participatory action research methods” to address the power dynamics between researchers and communities and invite the voices of young people into the conversation as an essential component toward achieving more equitable education outcomes.    

This webinar will support educators and leaders who seek to have a more significant effect on the success of diverse learners amidst societal challenges in the education space.  The session will include a presentation, discussion, and Q&A.

Session Goals:

  • Introduce the powerful work of Beloved Community, an organization committed to working at the nexus of Equity in Schools, Equity at Work, and Equity at Home.
  • Highlight the value of Participatory Research Design.
  • Showcase the impact of Participatory Research in advancing equity.
  • Explore the power and promise of including youth in Participatory Research Design.
  • Better understand how a Participatory Research Design effort helps to realize Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s goal “to create a beloved community” that makes “a qualitative change in our souls as well as a quantitative change in our lives.”

The session will cover:

  1. Overview of Beloved Community and what drew this organization to Participatory Research.
  2. Outline the essential components of the Participatory Research Model.
  3. Highlight how this approach helps to advance equity, advocacy, and student success.
  4. Showcase how Beloved Community uses Data, Research, Impact, and Practice (DRIP) to make a difference in the lives of thriving students and communities.
  5. Identify one or two steps educators, researchers, and counselors can take to embrace and activate Participatory Research in their work.
  6. Samarah Bentley will share insights and lessons learned from their experience with Participatory Research in action.




Rhonda Broussard is an author, entrepreneur, and futurist. She is the Founder & CEO of Beloved Community. She developed Beloved Community to create sustainable paths to regional racial and economic equity. Rhonda is a Highland Leader, a Tulane Mellon Fellow, a Pahara-Aspen Fellow, and an Eisenhower Fellow. She serves on the Board of Directors of Generation Hope, New Orleans African American Museum, and Diverse Charter Schools Coalition. Rhonda has earned a BA in French and Secondary Education from Washington University in St. Louis, a MA in French Studies from The Institute of French Studies at NYU, and has studied education systems across the world. Rhonda is the author of “One Good Question: How Countries Prepare Youth to Lead”. You can find Rhonda, her partner Kim, and her bilingual family living in Bulbancha, also known as New Orleans, Louisiana where she studies and performs dances from the African diaspora.



Samarah Bentley is a freshman at Louisiana State University, majoring in the Screen Arts with interests in cinematography, directing, producing, and acting. She is multilingual, having studied French, Spanish and Mandarin. As an activist and artist, her talents lie in youth advocacy and developing creative solutions alongside peers to better her community. The New Orleans Children and Youth Planning Board, 826 New Orleans, Geaux Girl, Jrnola, YPAR Academy, and Girl Scouts to name a few, have shaped both her personal growth and community awareness. Samarah has received several awards in writing, media arts, and French language proficiency and has published articles in Gambit Weekly and Lifestyles Health and Wellness magazine. Samarah was the inaugural Mayor for the day for New Orleans’ first female mayor and has interviewed the First Lady of France. She is currently working on her third novel, with hopes to publish her first within the next few years.