We’re developing a unique academy to enable high school students to earn a Bard College AA degree, tuition-free, alongside their high school diplomas, providing young people with a deeper immersion in college than has ever been possible in Louisiana.

As a Black woman working in education, Nicole Young’s goal is to improve the quality of life for students of color by improving the quality of educational opportunities available to them.

Before becoming an EP Fellow, Nicole worked as an organizer on the 2008 Obama for America Campaign and later served as political appointee in the U.S. Department of Education and the White House.

Nicole chose to become an EP Fellow because she was looking for a project that would combine her experience in politics, community organizing, and federal government to ultimately benefit student growth and learning. 

  • Program & Project Management

As an EP Fellow in New Orleans, Nicole was placed with Algiers Charter Schools Association (ACSA), an organization that believes deeply in preparing every teacher to teach every child, so that all will learn. There, she worked with the human capital team to craft a teacher development plan and design leadership pathways to span ACSA’s six schools to better retain great teachers and leaders. Nicole used her experience with qualitative research and human capital management to first interview ACSA's top performing teachers and then use that to design a career pathway plan to match the diverse needs of the association's teaching staff.

Currently, Nicole serves as Executive Director for Bard Early College in New Orleans (BECNO).

Founded on the belief that the opportunities for critical inquiry offered by the best colleges in the country should be available to younger students who have the ambition to learn, BECNO offers 11th- and 12th-graders in New Orleans a tuition-free, immersive liberal arts curriculum. BECNO students spend the second half of every school day as undergraduates of Bard College in small, seminar-style courses led by college professors from around the city.

BECNO students -- 90 percent of whom are students of color, 79 percent of whom qualify for free and reduced lunch, and 69 percent of whom are first-generation college students -- have access to the liberal arts experience, which has traditionally been relatively inaccessible to people of color and low-income students.

To note, students are not taking college preparatory courses at BECNO; instead, when they walk onto campus in the afternoons, they are taking real, college-level courses with the same expectations and workload. As a result, they can earn up to 24 Bard College credits during their last two years of high school.

As Nicole describes it, “every day, these intellectually curious students from around the city converge on our campus to think, discuss, and engage. Not only is it important to me that these diverse and exceptional students have access to the traditional liberal arts cannon through our classes, but it is crucial that their experiences are informing how those texts are taught and that their participation in the liberal arts college tradition is changing the narrative around who belongs in this type of college environment.”

Nicole was recognized as one of EP’s EPic Alumni in 2016.