Building a DEI Curriculum

This is part of a series of posts by recipients of the 2021 Career Services Summer Funding Grant. We’ve asked funding recipients to reflect on their summer experiences and talk about the industries in which they spent their summer. You can read the entire series here.

This entry is by Rowana Miller, COL ’22

When I began my internship with education nonprofit Fulphil, I expected that my takeaways from the summer would center around my team’s primary project: building a curriculum about diversity, equity, and inclusion. Fulphil is a startup founded by Penn alum Tiffany Yau, and it creates curricula that teach students skills and knowledge directly relevant to their lives. The startup’s first curriculum was about social entrepreneurship, and this summer, Tiffany hired a group of interns and associates to add several other curricula to their roster: DEI, design thinking, and sustainability.

Because of my prior experience developing a DEI strategy for my on-campus theater group, Penn Singers Light Opera Company, I had been hired to join the DEI team.

And I did have a spectacular experience developing this curriculum. The reason why I was so excited to work for an education nonprofit was because of my passion for educational equity. Fulphil’s mission centers around student empowerment, particularly for students who have been historically excluded from educational structures and institutions. And so my work addressed equity on two different levels: I designed a curriculum whose content focused on equity, and the purpose of the curriculum was to give students the knowledge to advocate for themselves and thereby dispel some of the educational inequalities that surround them.

But my work didn’t end there. After getting to know Tiffany and the other members of the Fulphil staff, I also joined the Customer Success team, which focuses on bolstering the nonprofit’s relationships with teachers. One of my favorite parts of Fulphil’s culture is that the staff is always working to improve the nonprofit’s services, and the Customer Success team lead had realized that the nonprofit could be better at training teachers to utilize Fulphil’s curricula. So the core project of the team was building a formal teacher training for all teachers to attend before implementing any of the curricula in their classrooms.

We designed the training in a way that we believed would help teachers to not only use Fulphil’s materials but improve their craft overall. In addition to discussing recommendations for how to utilize the modules, presentations, and activities that Fulphil provides, we included guidance on best practices for classroom engagement and introduced teachers to project-based learning strategies, which are on the cutting edge of pedagogy. In order to build this training, I researched pedagogical tools, spoke to previous Fulphil teachers and education experts from Penn GSE, and drew upon the best practices I had learned from my work running a creative writing camp.

The creative writing camp brings me to what is perhaps my most meaningful takeaway from my time at Fulphil. I founded that camp as a program within the Kelly Writers House at Penn, and I’m currently in the process of turning it into an independent creative writing equity nonprofit; my time at

Fulphil has been essential in giving me the skills, connections, and confidence to begin this process. Tiffany has been incredibly generous to me, not only as a boss but as a mentor. She shared her knowledge about how to found a nonprofit, and introduced me to the Fulphil board and other members of the education and nonprofit communities who taught me an enormous amount about how to maximize impact within the educational equity space. I am so grateful to Tiffany for all that she has done to support me both at Fulphil and within my personal endeavors, and so proud to have worked at Fulphil this summer.

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