FOUNDING STORY

In the onset of the COVID-19 global pandemic, we began to see glimpses of what would become the Acosta Institute.

In the summer of 2020, just months after defending his doctoral dissertation, Dr. Angel Acosta decided to host a series of open virtual restorative circles called community grounding sessions. These open spaces were his attempts to support the community by processing all that was happening at the time. From the pandemic to racial violence, community members joined these sessions to talk, meditate and make sense of the world.

For the next eight months, every Thursday night, Dr. Acosta held space for whomever arrived to those weekly meetings. 

After noticing the hunger for more opportunities to connect, Dr. Acosta leveraged his doctoral research and designed the Healing-Centered Education Primer course–one of the first courses in the field to comprehensively explore the subject at the time.

The course offered a broad understanding of restorative practices and healing-centered education theories. It wove together discussions about individual, interpersonal, institutional, and collective healing with dynamic learning materials. It attracted hundreds of educators, therapists, artists, consultants and activists.

After the success of the first Primer course in May 2021, we launched the Healing-Centered Education Practicum course, a three-week immersion into hands-on healing modalities. This course complemented the Primer by providing participants with more direct experiences with practices such as breathwork, sound healing, indigenous ways of knowing and somatic storytelling. These two courses set the foundation for the curricular DNA of the institute. 

However, it wasn’t until after hosting the first Healing-Centered Education Summit in October 2021 that something clicked. The community kept coming back for more. The summits served as opportunities to invite scholars from across the discipline to explore the restorative turn in education and expose the community to a myriad of talent in the field. 

Summit Themes 

2021 – Pedagogies for Collective Recovery

2022 – Play, Slow Work & Collective Flourishing

2023 – Wounded Healer Leadership & Pedagogy

2023 – Contemplating Equity & Fugitive Futures

 

Our summits and courses provided the team with the confidence to take the leap and begin to grow the Acosta Institute publicly. The institute was named after the Dr. Acosta’s paternal family lineage in Santiago, Dominican Republic. There the Acosta family has been composed of teachers, nurses and farmers for multiple generations. The family ethos of caring for people, culture and land resonated with the spirit that was emerging out of the work of the institute. The name felt right.


After a few years of hosting dozens of events and teaching the general public, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation recognized the work of the institute by providing a multi-year grant to amplify healing-centered education at the national level. This opportunity has enabled us to deepen and refine our. Since then we’ve hosted an International Healing-Centered Conference, developed a national healing arts project called Wounded Healers and set the foundation for our largest offering yet–the Healing-Centered Education 3-Month Certificate Program.

We are electrified by the energy that the community has given us and the support of our partners. We are excited to continue to produce world-class educational programming for anyone interested in building healing-centered cultures and thriving-centered learning environments. This is just the beginning of our journey. The best is yet to come.