Making Diversity Matter in a Nonprofit Accreditation Process: Critical Race Theory as a Lens on the Present and Future of Nonprofit Education


  • Maureen Emerson Feit Seattle University
  • A. Emiko Blalock Michigan State University
  • Khanh Nguyen University of San Francisco



diversity, equity, race, critical theory, nonprofit education, accreditation


The nonprofit sector has a wide and well-documented diversity deficit. As the Nonprofit Academic Centers Council (NACC) considers accreditation, we argue that any accreditation process that seeks to elevate the quality and legitimacy of nonprofit education must place diversity at the center of the process. As educators who are preparing students to study, research, and work in nonprofit and philanthropic organizations, we have an opportunity and a responsibility to address the deficits in our institutions through such an emerging accreditation process. Diversified educational environments have been found to improve outcomes for students and for academic institutions at large, and accreditation may provide important leverage for nonprofit education programs to increase diversity. Yet accreditation alone will not address the long-standing and persistent educational structures, policies, practices, and discourses that contribute to the exclusion and marginalization of diverse students and faculty. Using critical race theory as a lens on the policies, practices, methods, and discourses dominant within nonprofit education today, we also call for sustained critical attention to the ways that identity and power dynamics currently operate within nonprofit education and for the development of strategies and approaches that encourage greater diversity, equity, and inclusion across the curriculum.





Contours of the Accreditation Purpose and Process