Letter From Our Executive Director, Lauren Morando Rhim

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Dear Friends,

Please join the Center for Learner Equity as we proudly commemorate our 10th anniversary! As we reflect on our remarkable journey, we take great pride in our progress over the past decade and our commitment to breaking down barriers and expanding robust learning opportunities for students with disabilities. Throughout the year, we will continually amplify this celebratory theme as we forge new pathways for success.

Since 2013, it has been our unwavering mission to eliminate obstacles, challenge preconceptions, and advocate for the rights and well-being of students with disabilities. Our organization was founded to proactively collaborate with states, charter authorizers, special education and charter school advocates, and other stakeholders to doggedly advance our mission. Building on a decade of notable progress, our fundamental objective remains the same today — to increase awareness, improve access, create dynamic learning opportunities, and address barriers that prevent students with disabilities from accessing high-quality education in a public school of their choice.

We invite you to join us in celebrating our accomplishments as we disseminate resources and articles to showcase how our collaborative efforts have had a meaningful impact. Each month, we will detail work that is directly connected to our vision and spotlight how stakeholders like you, have contributed to our work and progress.

Our work together, across the nation  expands the formation of policies and empowers systems to prioritize inclusivity and provide students with the necessary support they require to succeed. As we reflect on 10 years of creating a more equitable and accessible education system, we want to express our heartfelt gratitude for your unwavering support.

We believe that creating a more equitable education system is a complex task that requires extensive collaboration. You can join our efforts by utilizing our resources, contacting us to enhance your advocacy and policy goals, and by sharing our newsletter and announcements across your social media channels. We thank you in advance for exploring these activities in celebration of our 10th Anniversary!

Thank you for being a part of our journey. I am excited to see what we can accomplish in the next 10 years!


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Lauren Morando Rhim
Executive Director and Co-Founder

CLE’s History

The Challenge

Fourteen percent of U.S. students have a disability—but for far too long, systemic ableism has left them an afterthought. Despite federal legislation requiring that all students receive a free, appropriate public education (FAPE), students with disabilities face wide and persistent achievement gaps. For students of color with disabilities, who face both structural racism and ableism, outcomes are even worse.

Simply put, we have become too comfortable failing students with disabilities.

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Our Response

In response to these compelling needs, Lauren Morando Rhim and Paul O’Neill launched the Center for Learner Equity (then the National Center for Special Education in Charter Schools) in October 2013. The Center is the first organization to focus solely on proactively working with states, charter authorizers, special education and charter school advocates, and other stakeholders to raise awareness, improve access, create dynamic learning opportunities, and address barriers that prevent students with disabilities from accessing a high-quality education in the public school of their choice. Along with our ongoing commitment to drive change in support of our mission, we employ a multifaceted approach that includes the following strategies:


We elevate voices by documenting, centering, and prioritizing lived experiences in strategy design and education policy discussions.

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We facilitate collaboration by guiding stakeholders toward consensus, identifying shared goals, and co-creating solutions around supporting students with disabilities.


We develop and lead strategy by promoting policy solutions, overcoming barriers, benchmarking progress, and ensuring resources improve outcomes for students with disabilities.

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We conduct, synthesize, and disseminate research in service of action by leading objective analyses, pursuing insights regarding educating students with disabilities and sharing findings for a broader field impact.

We build tools to solve shared challenges by creating resources, increasing access to knowledge, and providing guidance on the infrastructure needed to support students with disabilities.


We advocate for students with disabilities to make certain state-driven authorizing, enrollment, monitoring, and accountability policies are equitable and federal policies that promote a positive school climate, eliminate exclusionary discipline, and ensure funding equity.


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Support Our Work


Increase awareness and understanding by engaging with our case studies, podcasts, and publications. You can find all of our resources here.


Join us as an advocate for students with disabilities by proposing your ideas for a high-level engagement in your community or state – check out some examples here. If you’re a special education support organization, consider joining our NICE Network!


Sign up for our newsletter here and follow our social media channels on LinkedIn and X (Twitter) for the latest updates.

Thank you to all our great partners, staff, board, friends, and stakeholders for your support over the years.

We can not do this work alone!