Inclusion Lab


The Inclusion Lab, founded by Kalyan Balaven, has played a pivotal role in promoting inclusion in the Santa Barbara area since its inception in 2021. Through successful partnerships between public and private schools, the Lab has served as an experimental platform for fostering inclusivity. Balaven firmly believes that "inclusion is not a special interest" and actively works to bridge diverse communities and schools, adapting and implementing the best regional practices to create inclusive spaces that cater to the needs of all students.

The Inclusion Dashboard in 2018

Building upon the data-driven model of the Inclusion Dashboard Consortium, an initiative established by Balaven in 2018 that has now expanded to include over 200 schools, the Lab empowers institutions to develop robust inclusion strategies. By utilizing Balaven's open-source methodology, the Lab builds institutional capacity, ensuring that all students are included, and garnering buy-in from all stakeholders. This approach diverges from the climate study model, which often draws criticism for excluding certain voices and catering to special interests.

As a thought leader in diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB), Balaven has written extensively on the subject. He has also been instrumental in bringing the moral courage curriculum to Santa Barbara, further enhancing the Lab's commitment to cultivating inclusive educational environments.

In addition to his invaluable work with the Lab, Balaven hosts the Whole Student Podcast and launched the Inclusion Lab podcast in 2023. These podcasts serve as extensions of the Lab's mission, exploring inclusion-related themes using analogies from various industries. They strive to identify common threads for exploration and expansion within the independent school realm.

With Balaven's network extending beyond Santa Barbara, his established model and expertise are making a lasting impact on independent schools throughout the United States. Through his active involvement with the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS), Balaven has leveraged his connections to disseminate valuable insights via podcasts and other platforms, expanding the reach of The Lab's inclusive practices. This expansion not only signifies the growth of Balaven's influence but also highlights the potential for positive change in the educational landscape as his inclusive model gains traction and resonates with a broader audience. By inspiring educators nationwide to embrace innovative approaches and inclusive principles, Balaven's work is shaping the future of independent schools across the country.