Building Back Better Starts Now

Summer is typically “time on” for education leaders and school staff who need to advance critical work ahead of the next school year. As June rolls around this year, little is typical. Students have been out of school buildings for months and planning for a potential return to learning in the fall amidst the continued public health crisis will be different and more complex from what most education sector professionals have ever seen. At the same time as the education sector is navigating the looming budget crisis and strong potential for learning loss caused by COVID-19, there’s also a racial and social justice reckoning it must act upon. The rapid exodus from schools to remote and online learning highlighted the inequities present in the education system and exacerbated by the pandemic. The surge of necessary and complicated work caused by the confluence of two crises — civil rights and public health — will require sustained effort, anti-racist approaches, and a network of passionate people willing to care, act, and challenge each other while questioning and disrupting the status quo.

We’re welcoming new Fellows to our network.

We’re proud to welcome a new cohort of EP Summer Fellows who are joining our movement for educational equity — 30+ leaders who are helping schools and education organizations get ready for a new school year and dramatically different future of education in light of COVID-19. They join EP’s nationwide network of 4,500+ Alumni who similarly work outside the classroom to enable student and teacher success inside the classroom.

Leadership matters more in this moment than ever before. In the face of a global pandemic and against the backdrop of a social justice movement, the choices education leaders make now have the potential to combat or exacerbate the inequities ever present in our flawed systems and structures. The skills, mindsets, and experiences of our leaders are more important than ever. Now is the time for adaptive, inclusive, and strategic leaders — those are the leaders we develop through our Fellowships. We’re grateful these Fellows have chosen to spend their summer applying their skills to support student and teacher success, and we’re honored to be part of their social justice journey to become agents of change who are constantly learning and taking bold actions to create lasting, systemic change within public education.

EP Fellows are impacting Partner organizations across the country.

From home offices across the country, our Partners report that EP Fellows and the projects they’re leading this summer will impact nearly a million constituents, inclusive of students, teachers, families, and community members. EP Fellows will provide critical capacity to school districts, charter schools, nonprofits, government agencies, and education support organizations — coordinating how to serve the immediate needs of kids and communities still reeling from COVID-19 while also contributing to the sector’s long-term recovery. 15% of EP Summer Fellows will work on projects directly related to COVID-19 planning and recovery, while an additional 35% will work on critical infrastructure and planning projects to support organizational sustainability during and beyond the pandemic. Here’s a sample of the projects they’re undertaking this summer: 

Jean Liu is working with Oakland Unified School District this summer. Her project is to increase access to summer learning programs through improved communications with families, which will lead to more access to important academic and enrichment summer programs. She’ll analyze and immerse herself in the district’s Summer Learning enrollment system to agilely implement immediate improvements. Additionally, she’ll engage with stakeholders, including site leaders and Oakland family members to plan for long-term optimization ahead of Summer 2021.

Yoobin Ji is working with Boston Schools Fund this summer. He’ll support their work to mitigate education inequities in Boston by analyzing student data to inform strategic investments. After his analysis, he’ll produce a report that captures the state of education quality, access, and reveals inequities in the current system to prompt city-wide discussion and action. EP Alum Kerry Donahue, Managing Director at Boston Schools Fund will be his project supervisor.

Sharlene Guiriba, Smrithi Sharma, and Devin Saiki will serve on Chicago Public Schools’ COVID Task Force. They’ll be a part of developing and implementing the plan to return 355,000 students and 35,000 employees to schools at the 3rd largest school district in the country. The Task Force will address key priorities including social-emotional wellness, health protocols, instruction, budgeting, supply chain, and more. They’ll work in the Talent Office with EP Alum Christina Jordan, Deputy Chief Talent Officer at Chicago Public Schools.

Quinton Bonds will be working with I Dream Public Charter School this summer. He’ll work to optimize their enrollment process while also building visibility of the school with families in the community. Community is at the heart of their educational model. Not only will Quinton contribute to their robust engagement strategy, but he’ll lead on executing the outreach to re-engage with the community due to the necessary physical distancing as a result of COVID-19.

Brionna Crawford is working with Slingshot Memphis this summer. She’ll use qualitative and quantitative analyses to complete an impact assessment for a poverty-fighting nonprofit in Memphis. Brionna will then work collaboratively with them to identify opportunities that would further enhance their impact. This project directly contributes to promoting a results-driven poverty-fighting ecosystem.

Marisa Wilson is working with the Bronx Charter School for the Arts this summer. Her goal is to increase awareness and philanthropic support for the school so they can enhance the resources they offer to their students. She’ll develop social media and event plans that showcase the talent of their students to raise visibility and attract supporters who believe the arts is a key catalyst for academic and social success and want to invest in a rich and vibrant public arts charter school.

We’re pleased to have several returning partners including: Boston Schools Fund, Bronx Charter School for the Arts, Chicago Public Schools, Education Forward DC, and San Francisco Unified School District.

We’re proud to welcome new partners joining the EP network this year, including: Edstruments, I Dream Public Charter School, LeMoyne-Owen College, Strong Schools Maryland, and Zearn.

For the full list of our Summer 2020 Fellows and the Partners for whom they’re working, click here.

EP Fellows bring a diversity of perspectives to their cohorts & work.

The 30+ talented professionals chosen to participate are rising leaders who are eager to put their skills to work for school districts, charter management organizations, state education agencies, and other organizations working in public education on behalf of our nation’s highest-need students. EP provides participants with the knowledge, resources, and network to accelerate their work which ensures that their 10-weeks are impactful for both the education sector and the individual’s career trajectory.

Fellows will learn from experts and from one another to collectively enhance their impact in the projects they’re currently working on with EP’s network of partner organizations, and to strengthen the pipeline of talented leaders ready and interested in taking on roles in data analytics, strategy, operations, project management, and more across the education sector.

We’re grateful to our EP Alumni for their continued support of future and current Fellows. Inspired by their own EP experiences, 20+ Alums helped us recruit, select, and engage with prospective Fellowship candidates. Ten Alums are hosting and supervising Fellows this summer. Three Alumni Anna Braet (2015), Jameelah Stuckey (2019), and Joel Scott (2015), will serve as Alumni Advisors to connect Fellows with the broader EP network through virtual community building events and local learning experiences. Two Alumni, James Hilton Harrell (2013) and Chelsea Williams (2018) will be working as facilitators, along with Larissa Gregory, to support tailoring our programming to local context across the country.

Fellows are leaning into learning & leadership.

Core to how we develop leaders who are prepared to close the opportunity gap is our cohort-based leadership development. Happening virtually this summer for the first time ever, EP Fellows across the country are meeting this month to start building a strong and thriving culture of collaboration and support which we believe is of foundational importance for a network to enact systemic change.

As a leadership organization, we recognize our responsibility to the students and communities we serve to develop leaders who can disrupt historically racist structures. Through our programming, Fellows will be introduced to core understandings and mindsets around the role of diversity, equity, and inclusion in their roles. They will engage in conversations and virtual experiences to unpack their identities and raise their own consciousness, preparing them to champion equity for students who are primarily of color and represent many other disenfranchised populations. They’ll hear from national and regional education leaders to build their knowledge of the K12 education landscape. Throughout their Fellowship, our Pioneers will learn and apply core adaptive leadership tenets through their individual placement contexts.

We’re honored to support, inspire, and challenge this new group of Fellows to be anti-racist, inclusive, and equipped to pursue systemic and structural change. We do our work because we believe public education can be a powerful lever for equity. But our current education system perpetuates opportunity gaps, privileging white students. This must be upended and we’re humbled to partner with organizations and individuals as we collectively work to advance racial equity on behalf of students and families everywhere.

We wish all of our 2020 Fellows transformative summer! 

Read the full press release. 

The 2020 Education Pioneers Fellows and Partners are:

Abigail Cooner Zearn
Andrea Pineda Madrigal Chicago Public Schools
Awa Compaore San Francisco Unified School District
Brionna Crawford Slingshot Memphis
Carl Schneider Northern Illinois University, Education Systems Center
Chris Angotti Summit Public Schools
Devin Saiki Chicago Public Schools
Elizabeth Rene District of Columbia Public Schools
Ellen Kimball Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
Eryn Gorang District of Columbia Public Schools
Gabriel Reyes Achievement Network (ANet)
Gaurav Lalsinghani DC Public Charter School Board
Giovanni Cruz Gratacos Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation
Isabelle Wilkins Edstruments
Jean Liu Oakland Unified School District
Jennifer Lopata Academy for Urban School Leadership
Julia Hosch LeMoyne-Owen College
Katherine Neginskiy Chicago Public Schools
Laura Burbach Chicago Public Schools
Lin Johnson III Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
Linsey Malig-Mayhew Strong Schools Maryland
Marisa Wilson Bronx Charter School for the Arts
Mary Leger Chicago Public Schools
Matthew Milner Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
Prachi Naik YouthForce NOLA
Quinton Bonds I Dream Public Charter School
Roshni Mukherji Education Forward DC
Sage Salvo EdOps
Sharlene Guiriba Chicago Public Schools
Smrithi Sharma Chicago Public Schools
Sofia Bustamante Guerra Boston Schools Fund
Teshika Hatch Alpha Public Schools
Truman Liu Bellwether Education Partners
Yoobin Ji Boston Schools Fund