Publication Date


Author ORCID Identifier



Cariño. Community. Criticality. Culturally Relevant Content. Centering Students. How might schools in the U.S. be different if these five concepts were the guiding principles of teaching and learning? What transformations—what individual and societal shifts—might we experience if all members of our learning communities, particularly those from historically marginalized groups, were met with love, respect, support, an opportunity to understand the root causes of societal issues, and a chance to see themselves and their communities as irreplaceable parts of history? For students, teachers, and supporters of Holyoke Ethnic Studies (HES), these five concepts, also known as the 5 C’s, are not just aspirations, they are everyday realities waiting to be shared. In Holyoke, HES has experienced documented success in the form of student achievement, engagement, and matriculation. The heart of HES, however, is in the power of the people who advocate for humanizing education spaces with cariño, community, criticality, culturally relevant content, and students at the center. The purpose of this report is to offer a snapshot of the people, efforts, and legacies at the core of this important work.

We begin with an explanation of Ethnic Studies, broadly answering the question: What is Ethnic Studies and why is it important? Next, we offer an overview of the HES program, paying special attention to the 5 C’s, the curriculum, community and university partnerships, and impact data on the program. We then situate HES among the legacies and lineages of other Ethnic Studies programs and activist movements throughout the U.S. in the following section, before sharing opportunities for solidarity and community engagement. We hope that this report can be a tool for educators, students, administrators, and community members to see themselves reflected in the broader fight for educational justice.