In August, 4.0 was selected as one of four partners for the Meet the Moment Grant Fund created by the VELA Education Fund to support innovative, out-of-system, student-centric opportunities in response to COVID learning disruptions.
Through this, 4.0 has awarded $460,000 in 38 grants between $5K and $15K to 4.0 alumni working on new and existing ideas to support students and families during COVID-19. A total of 28 teams of alumni were awarded grants of $15K to support the further development of existing ideas, and 10 alumni were awarded grants of $5K to support the development of new ideas in response to COVID-19.
Today, we’re proud to announce the 38 teams we’re investing in and share what they’re working on to respond to the pandemic in their communities.
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Meet our Meet the Moment Grantees:
Abi Olukeye | Dear Smart Girl STEM Kits | Charlotte, NC
About Abi: Abi Olukeye founded Smart Girls HQ to provide long-term sustainable solutions for increasing female participation in the STEM career pipeline. Her digital platform, Raising Smart Girls, reaches over 30,000 parents across web and social media who seek STEM education and personal development resources for their daughters aged 3 to 12. Previously, she led Internet of Things (IOT) strategy development and digital transformation projects at a diversified Fortune 500 manufacturing company. She has over fifteen years of professional and leadership experience spanning new product development, technology commercialization, process improvement, and strategy.
About their Idea: Dear Smart Girl STEM Kits makes STEM Career Exploration engaging, accessible, and personalized for elementary-aged girls. Through carefully curated activities, a child enrolled in the program will engage 6 STEM careers yearly that align with established science and engineering standards leading to the achievement of STEM Career Literacy by age 12.
Akiea Gross | Woke Kindergarten | Frederick, MD and Brooklyn, NY
About Akiea: Akiea “Ki” Gross (they/them) is a Black, queer, non-binary and trans abolitionist early educator, coach and creator, currently innovating ways to unlearn, heal and liberate with their pedagogy, Woke Kindergarten. Originally from Montgomery County, MD, they moved to New York City in 2012 to attend Columbia University’s Teachers College and upon graduation, stayed to teach in Harlem. They are a former Instructional Coach and Kindergarten teacher with 10+ years experience in schools, and more beyond the confines. It was their experiences with the carceral state of schooling and the trauma enacted upon Black children in these systems, that galvanized them to create #BlackTeachersMatter and Equitable Schools.
As a 2017 Essentials Fellow with 4.0 Schools, they created the pop-up mentorship summit, Black Teachers Mentor. Their journey with 4.0 continued in 2018 as an Essentials Coach, and in 2019 as the first Essentials Head Coach. Currently, they serve as 4.0’s Coaching Manager. As their experiences and alignment with abolition evolved, they dissolved Equitable Schools and created @WhyAbolition, a communal unlearning and commitment to the abolitionist teaching movement.
They currently serve as an adjunct supervisor in the School of Education at Hunter College and consulting/booking speaking engagements with Woke Kindergarten. They hold an M.A. in Developmental Psychology from Teachers College, an M.S. in Childhood Education/Special Education from the Progressive Education Institute/Touro College and two B.A.’s in Child Development and Family Studies and Psychology, respectively.
About Their Idea: Woke Kindergarten is a global abolitionist early learning community and expansive liberatory educational consulting experience that creates sustainable, liberatory and culturally sustaining ECE content, partnerships, PD and workshops that prioritize shared familial experiences & engagement across a variety of accessible & generational online platforms, with a current emphasis on integrating our digital resources with inquiry-based projects that we will package like curriculum for families to use, inform and facilitate anti-racist ECE at home.
Allie Pasquier | Play Lab Virtual Play Dates | Bellingham, WA
About Allie: Allie Bishop Pasquier (she/her/hers) is the founder and director of Play Lab. She started Play Lab in 2013, after a decade teaching early childhood in a variety of settings, from Head Start to private schools to school gardens, as a vehicle to share resources for playful caregiving in formal and informal educational environments. After collaborating with community groups to offer pop-up community play, she was a 2017 4.0 Tiny Fellow, launching an after school enrichment program in 10 local elementary schools. She believes that making the time and space for hands-on, exploratory play empowers children and educators alike in cultivating resilience, curiosity, and community connections.
About Their Idea: Play Lab Virtual Play Dates are a way for Kindergarten — Grade Two children to connect with peers and hands-on play in a virtual environment. In this program, children use everyday materials and objects to engage in creative, exploratory play with an element of social interaction, bringing back two important pieces of childhood that have suffered without physical school experiences.
Alpana Shitolé | Frolific Kids | Atlanta, GA
About Alpana: Alpana is the founder of Frolific Kids, a program to help K-12 children cultivate Personal Leadership. She has a burning desire to empower children to be their best selves in whatever they do in life; a passion that drove her to pivot from a thriving corporate career to become an educationalist. She has a Master of Science degree from Ohio University, an Entrepreneurship certification from Cornell University, a PMP certification, & is a 4.0 School Fellow. At the end of the day, though, being among children is her greatest joy & inspiration.
About Their Idea: Frolific is a Personal Leadership Program designed to help K-12 children embark on a journey of lasting and meaningful success. Frolific cultivates the attributes of Emotional Intelligence, Perseverance, Self-Innovation, and Giving Back in all their children through personalized training, intrinsic motivation, and supported by evidence-based results.
Anthony Galloway Jr. & Julia Cordero | Unschooler Coaching Program | Atlanta, GA
About Anthony: Anthony Galloway Jr is a Co-Founder & Director at Heartwood Agile Learning Center in Clarkston, Georgia. There, Anthony facilitates the activities and experiences of a mixed-age, self-directed learning community. Originally from the DC Metropolitan area, Anthony first moved to Atlanta to attend Morehouse College. After graduating, he started to develop a vision for a microschool where the young people were inspired, motivated, and happy to be there. Eventually this led to him joining a team of families to found Heartwood in 2016. Since then, he’s participated as a Wave 2 Tiny Fellow and now provides coaching to other 4.0 startup teams. Anthony’s mission is to facilitate liberation for low-income, African American families through providing affordable self-directed education for their young people.
About Julia: Julia Cordero is a Co-founder and Director at Heartwood Agile Learning Center. She is a career educator dedicated to anti-oppression work and the values of self-directed education.
About Their Idea: Heartwood ALC’s Unschool Coaching Program facilitates community, guidance, and support for families of color that practice self-directed education. Using inspiration from inquiry & project based learning models blended with the Agile Facilitator methodology, Heartwood helps teens create, execute, and evaluate their own learning goals and progress.
Asha Owens & Rebecca Kwee| BestFit | Atlanta, GA
About Asha: Asha Owens — Co-Founder and CEO of BestFit. Asha is a product designer and software engineer with degrees in Neuroscience (B.S., Brown University) and Instructional Technology and Media (M.A., Columbia University). At Brown, Asha was recognized for her initiatives to improve persistence for underrepresented students in Computer Science, winning Palantir’s Women in Engineering Scholarship. Before BestFit, she’s built and managed Edtech products for clients such as the American Museum of Natural History, and was named a Finalist for the 2020 Camelback Education Fellowship.
About Rebecca: Educator and college counselor with a background in Higher Education
About Their Idea: BestFit is collaborating with local college students in metro Atlanta to create and publish a digital guide created by college students, for college students to navigate the process of seeking and receiving help post-COVID-19. The guide will be released in a weekly series and cover key categories of resources essential to student success (ex: healthcare, mental health, employment, financial assistance, housing, technology) and use multimedia (articles, videos, interactive infographics) to appeal to and engage college students and young adults.
Bahiy Watson | The 1881 Institute | New Orleans, LA
About Bahiy: Bahiy Watson is the executive director of The 1881 Institute (1881). He has 20+ years of engineering experience and has worked as a consultant for numerous companies. He uses this experience to create pathways into engineering careers for underrepresented populations. He considers Georgia home, but has lived in New Orleans, his wife’s hometown, since 2007 with his 5 children. Bahiy is passionate about advocating for the rights of African Americans as well as sharing the creativity and artistry in engineering with others.
About Their Idea: The 1881 Institute provides a hybrid learning community (virtual and in-person) in design and advanced manufacturing that allows 16–21 year-olds to work with miniature industrial manufacturing equipment at home to help transition into the workplace and college.
Chandler Nutik & Megan Easely | CW PODS | New Orleans, LA
About Chandler: Chandler Nutik is the founding Executive Director of Community Works and has served in that position since 2009. Chandler has helped secure federal, state, and foundation grants that benefit young people in Community Works programs throughout New Orleans. He has successfully built numerous mutually beneficial partnerships and works tirelessly on creating new project and programmatic opportunities for youth. Academically, Chandler has received a JD from Tulane Law School and an MBA from the Freeman School of Business. In addition, he is licensed to practice law in the state of New York. Chandler has served as Co-Chair on the Advisory Board for Emerging Philanthropists of New Orleans (EPNO) and is a W.K. Kellogg Community Leadership Network fellow. Chandler is passionate about the work that Community Works does and his role in helping to improve the educational landscape in New Orleans. He has helped to change the lives of many youth and continues to advocate for support for afterschool and summer programs in Louisiana.
About Megan: Megan Easely is a practiced educator and community organizer with over 10 years of experience in both formal and informal classroom settings. At the Health Museum in Houston, Texas, Megan taught a wide range of health and science related classes to guests of all ages. She also developed curriculum and public programs for the Health Museum’s education department, targeting the STEAM approach. More recently, she worked as a teacher and Outdoor Education Specialist at the Becker School, a private preschool in Houston. Outside her role as an educator, Megan is also a community organizer focusing her efforts in social and environmental justice.
About Their Idea: CW Pods are small learning groups led by one of Community Works’ experienced Enrichment Instructors. The Enrichment Instructor facilitates the young peoples’ distance learning while also offering unique enrichment activities throughout the day. CW Pods helps working parents, while also providing young people with much needed in-person connection with their piers and assistance keeping up with their distance learning.
Constance Barnes-Watson & The Collective: LaShawnna Harris, Makeda Gershenson, Maurelhena Walles | The CUNY Reachback Project | Bronx, NY
About Constance: Constance’s commitment to social change began in the late 90’s when she helped start the New Millennium Youth Initiative in Mt. Vernon, NY.She shifted her energy from computer programming to education after receiving her Bachelor’s from Lehman College and enrolled in the Urban Teaching Academy at Mercy College. Her first years as an educator were spent in the South Bronx. Constance obtained her Master’s in EDU and Certificate of Advanced Studies in School Administration and continued her pedagogical journey to become a School Administrator, Director of Special Education and state-wide Program Director of Charter Schools In 2018, she founded UnmaskEDU, LLC. in Atlanta, GA to provide support for charter schools and families navigating special programs. In 2019, after returning home to NYC, she secured a position as Tech Career Coach for Mayor DiBlasio’s CUNY2XTECH Initiative, joined the Communitas America Accelerator and successfully launched “The Bronx Learning Lounge; a collective safe space for Bronx educators to collaborate and cultivate.” Subsequently she partnered with 4 other BIPOC female entrepreneurs and launched the community education-based organization, “The Collective,” serving young women attending high schools and colleges in the Bronx and Brooklyn. Constance is a 2020 Leaders of Color Fellow.
About The Collective: The Collective is a tribe of social entrepreneurs who foster relationships with schools and community based organizations to facilitate supplemental support and mentoring for youth through literacy, social emotional learning and physical activity. We have banded together to develop a mentoring program that addresses exacerbated educational and economic disparities in NYC result of COVID-19. Our mission is to empower young women of color to lead as critical thinkers and problem solvers of challenges in their communities through the lens of social entrepreneurship.
About Their Idea: The CUNY Reachback Project is a tiered mentoring program for “fresh-women” entering CUNY colleges this fall. Through a near-peer network of “freshman friends,” students will have 1:1 mentors during their first semester of college. Students will engage in real talks covering topics that are not always discussed in freshman orientation sessions. In addition, they will have an alumni mentor to support their journey and engage in professional development talks, “Borough Bounces” and health and wellness sessions all led by women of color.
Davian Morgan | Washington, D.C.
About Davian: Davian Morgan is a native Washingtonian and Vice-Principal at a public charter school in DC. He’s an alum of the University of Maryland and Johns Hopkins University. Davian is currently attending Vanderbilt University in the final year of his doctoral program. In 2017, Davian was recognized as one of the Top 100 Honorees of TNTP’s Fishman Prize for Superlative Classroom Practice. In 2018, Davian founded the non-profit organization, Hopeful HoriSONS, to support boys of color living in low-income communities. In 2019, Davian was recognized as one of the University of Maryland’s “Terps Under 30.” Davian has a deep passion for educational equity!
About Their Idea: Black Boys Book Bunch builds students’ literacy confidence and competence, as well as their social-emotional capacities by providing access to free, high-quality, and engaging texts and hosting virtual book clubs to discuss topics related to identity, Blackness, trauma, and success!
Denali Lander | New Orleans, LA
About Denali: Denali Lander is the Executive Director of Youth Run NOLA. After graduating from Tulane University with a BA in English and History, Denali joined Teach For America as a 2009 Corps Member and taught middle and high school English in St. Bernard Parish and at a charter school in the KIPP network in New Orleans. Throughout her years in the classroom, Denali supported the founding and growth of Youth Run NOLA from a grassroots after-school program into a stable non-profit and became the full-time Executive Director in July 2014. She is the former chair of the New Orleans Sport for Good Coalition and is a 2020 graduate of George Washington University’s Certificate in Sports Philanthropy. Denali grew up in Boulder, Colorado, and loves being outside.
About Their Idea: Beginning in the fall 2020, Youth Run NOLA will pivot away from its school-based after-school program to provide three program offerings more directly for youth (ages 8–21) who attend or graduated from public school in Orleans, Jefferson, and St. Bernard: 1) weekly at-home workout guides, resources, and supplies 2) bi-monthly live, virtual workouts 3) weekly park-based in-person and small group training with teams that is CDC guideline-compliant.
Domari Lewis | Surviving #CoronaSchool Virtual Summit | Frederick, MD
About Domari: Domari Lewis is a positive parenting activist and mom of four who helps parents identify and break toxic parenting patterns. After working as an educator and instructional coach for over 15 years, Domari decided to use her teaching and curriculum design skills to create programs that provide Black parents with clear, easy-to-implement techniques to become more positive, purposeful, and peaceful parents. Through her parenting programs, workshops, online challenges, and 1-on-1 coaching, Domari has helped countless parents across the world navigate the everyday challenges of life with kids using proven, research-based strategies. She is passionate about building a community of Black parents who are committed to challenging popular parenting norms as they groom their kids for success in a loving, peaceful, and respectful home environments.
About Their Idea: The Surviving #CoronaSchool Virtual Summit is a 3-day online learning experience where parents are equipped with the tools and support they need to help them feel more confident and successful in their role of supporting students who are navigating virtual school during the global pandemic. During the summit, parents will hear from various speakers on topics ranging from conscious parenting tools to building emotional intelligence. The goal is to help Black parents learn how to stay peaceful and purposeful in the midst of a global pandemic.
Felicia Freeman | Truth: Word UP! | Greensboro, NC
About Felicia: Felicia is a teacher in Guilford County Schools, North Carolina. She has been active in the field of education since 2000 when she followed her eldest child to elementary school in Greensboro, North Carolina. In 2009, Felicia returned to school to receive a Bachelor of Science degree in the field of elementary education. She became a certified teacher in 2011 and Montessori Certified in 2012. Felicia has experience teaching in every grade level, kindergarten through fifth in traditional, magnet, and Title I school programs. In 2011, Felicia left a more affluent magnet school to teach in a school with a Title I designation. This experience caused her to realize the disparities that continue to plague lower income communities to this day.
The Title I, low income, student saga continued to repeat itself regardless of where Felicia served as a teacher. Prompted by these, and other disparities, Felicia returned to school in 2015 to seek her administrative degree in the field of education. In 2017, Felicia received a master’s degree in school administration from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. In 2017, Felicia continued her educational pursuit by enrolling in the Stout School of Education at High Point University, High Point, North Carolina. She is focused on curriculum and instruction with the intent of providing disenfranchised communities with educational opportunities that not only leverage students’ existing funds of knowledge but also improve long-term trajectories for both the student and the family.
About Their Idea: Truth: Word UP! increases minority students’ presence, voices, and participation in education by providing them creative opportunities to express their cultural histories in an online platform where students choose to perform rap, poetry, prose, and short stories, as well as visual and performing arts.
Gabriela Tejedor & Kelsey Jones | Brooklyn Independent’s Untold History Box | Brooklyn, NY
About Gabriela: Gabriela (she/her/hers) is the co-founder and co-Head of School of Brooklyn Independent Middle School. She has been both a teacher and leader for the past 10 years. Originally from Miami by way of Colombia, Gabriela earned her BS at New York University in Educational Theater and her MA at RELAY Graduate School of Education. She is a Teach for America alumnus and has taught ELA in both elementary and middle school settings. She is passionate about racial equity, her backyard garden, and all things Brooklyn.
About Kelsey: Kelsey Jones has been both a teacher and leader in education for the past 14 years and is a Park Slope resident. Originally from San Diego, Kelsey earned a BS in Management and Accounting from the University of Wisconsin — Madison and her MA in Educational Leadership, Policy and Advocacy from New York University. She is a Teach for America alumnus and was the founding teacher at Uncommon Charter Middle School. During her time at Uncommon Charter Middle School, Kelsey taught grades 5–8, was the Grade Level Leader and Math Department Chair.
About Their Idea: Gabriela & Kelsey developed “Untold History Box” to allow students and families to physically explore concealed histories and stories throughout Brooklyn’s social justice landmarks. Students receive a subscription box with 3-staged activities: a contextual home learning activity, an onsite activity focused on exploration, observation, and inquiry, and a discussion activity to open dialogue on race and inequity.
Genevieve Backer & Colby Heckendorn | At-Home Learning Kits | St. Louis, MO
About Genevieve: Genevieve is a native to St. Louis and began her career in education as a 2013 Teach for America Corp Member in New Orleans. She taught for five years both in a traditional school district as well as a charter school. She earned her Master’s in Education from Johns Hopkins University. Most recently, Genevieve was a fellow with the Diverse Charter School Coalition and was the Principal-in-Residence at City Garden Montessori in St. Louis. For the past two years, Genevieve has been an Entrepreneur-in-Residence with The Opportunity Trust, as she works to launch Atlas with her co-founder, Colby Heckendorn. Together they are passionate about reimagining public elementary education in St. Louis.
About Colby: Colby has been a teacher and school leader in the St. Louis Public School District for the past nine years. Most recently, he was the building principal and instructional leader at Patrick Henry Downtown Academy, where he served the amazing students and families in the Columbus Square neighborhood of downtown St. Louis. Colby is currently an Entrepreneur-in-Residence with The Opportunity Trust where he is working to launch Atlas Public Schools, an intentionally diverse year-round charter elementary school that will open in the Fall of 2021.
About Their Idea: Atlas’ At-Home Learning Kits provide meaningful learning experiences for early childhood students living in the city of St. Louis. These kits provide basic school supplies, hands-on learning activities, books, and the opportunity to engage in virtual classes such as dance, music or art with Atlas’ teachers. All of the supplies for the activities and optional classes are included in the kits.
Hetal Jani | SPEAK Mentorship | New York, NY
About Hetal: HETAL JANI (she/her/hers) is a first generation South Asian American and New York City native, which has colored her experience as an educator and her interest in how culture, society, and interpersonal relationships affect people’s development. As the Founding Executive Director of SPEAK Mentorship, a nonprofit that ensures all individuals have the means to achieve personal and professional goals, Hetal develops youth of diverse backgrounds into future workforce leaders by bridging social support and opportunity gaps in their lives and giving them the tools to lift up their communities. For this work, she was honored as a 2019 L’Oreal Paris Women of Worth and a 2020 Daily Points of Light. She also holds a Bachelors in Behavioral Neuroscience from Lehigh University, a Masters in Psychology from Queens College of New York, an MBA from IE University, and a Masters in Education from Harvard Graduate School of Education, where she received the distinguished Intellectual Contribution award . Her life’s work involves developing a person’s unique voice and empowering marginalized communities to achieve whole person success. She proudly furthers this mission by serving on the board of the New York Chapter of the New Leaders Council, and as a Council of Urban Professionals fellow and Coro Leadership New York alum.
About Their Idea: SPEAK Mentorship develops the social and cultural capital of youth from immigrant families by building connections to diverse role models and exposure to career pathways so they can become future leaders of our workforce.
J LeShae Jenkins | BOOM | Dallas, TX
About J LeShae: Born Jamie LeShaé Jenkins, this fourth-generation Dallas native earned a cosmetology license alongside her diploma from Cedar Hill High School. She is a proud graduate of Clark Atlanta University with a B.A. in History, and National University with a M.A. in Teaching. Since 2003, J has spearheaded countless activist initiatives that sparked thousands of students, teachers, and executives to center community and culture in their quests for justice and excellence in education. Her work is cited in Vox, Education Week, and Slate; and is included in the “Educating to Transform Society” course at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Since 2016, J has served as the President and Principal of Conscious Consulting, a social justice education organization for professionals; as well as Founding Executive Director of Building Opportunities & Opening Minds (BOOM), a 501(c)3 leadership development organization for youth of color.
About Their Idea: Building Opportunities & Opening Minds (BOOM) is a 501(c)3 nonprofit leadership development organization that cultivates young visionaries of color with affirmation, decolonization, organization, and innovation. Generate power. Pursue liberation.
Jacob Adams | The Build’Em Up Robotics Team: Powered by STEM to the Future | Los Angeles, CA
About Jacob: Jacob is the Founder and Executive Director of STEM to the Future. Prior to founding STTF, Jacob was an elementary school educator in Brooklyn and Harlem. He moved to Los Angeles to be an instructional coach at Teach For America. Jacob has 8+ years of experience in education and is using that experience to work with students to reimagine and recreate a world in which everyone is free. His pedagogical philsosphy is greatly influenced by bell hooks and Paulo Freire. He’s a 4.0 School Essentials and Tiny Fellow. He’s also an organized, photographer, and co-host of the Make it Make Sense (MIMS) Pod.
About Their Idea: The Build’Em Up Robotics Team is a youth-led collective of Black and Latinx girls and gender non-binary youth who work together — with each other and with their communities — to use robotics solve problems and uplift those who have been marginalized.
Jen Chiou | CodeSpeak Labs Social Media School | Irvine, CA
About Jen: Jen (she/her/hers) is the founder of CodeSpeak Labs, which aims to train a new generation of activist developers.She started her career as a consultant at the Bridgespan Group, working with education and youth development nonprofits, and was an early team member at Teach For All. She subsequently worked at several tech startups, including leading the launch of Crisis Text Line, the first nationwide SMS-based crisis hotline. She founded CodeSpeak Labs 5 years ago; it’s now a social enterprise that operates in 2 states and has served over 10,000 students. She graduated from Stanford in 2005 and is from Southern California.
About Their Idea: The CodeSpeak Labs Social Media School uses social media platforms to host lessons on topics that youth and teens are interested in and that get them coding and building with tech tools. The first courses will be Tech for Instagrammers and Coding for Jr. Chefs. Students will learn skills through short, fun videos and get hands on experience with coding, photo editing, and graphic design. Jr. Chefs will also receive recipe ingredients and share their creations for feedback from their families and our instructors.
Jillian Sandoval | Electric Girls | New Orleans, LA
About Jillian: Jillian Sandoval (she/her/hers) comes to Electric Girls as the new executive director, replacing founder Flor Serna in October of 2019. She is currently pursuing her master’s degree at the University of New Orleans in Public Administration and holds a BA in Social Sciences from Tulane University. Jillian has 13 years of experience working with nonprofits in New Orleans in community engagement & outreach, human resources, finance, fundraising, volunteer management, program development and evaluation.
About Their Idea: Falling into Design Thinking — Electric Girls’ Virtual Fall Meetings are monthly virtual meet-ups for girls to reunite with their summer cohort. This project emphasizes social-emotional learning and mentorship within a community of curious learners. By challenging girls with design thinking projects to ideate solutions for an ever-changing world, girls are empowered to see themselves as the leaders of their own learning.
Katie Saiz | Green Gate Children’s School | Wichita, KS
About Katie: Katie (she/her/hers) is the founder and director of Green Gate Children’s School, a play and nature-based preschool-5th grade school and homeschool enrichment center in Wichita, KS. She completed her Bachelors degree in child development and human services from Fort Hays State University and later earned a graduate certificate in literacy intervention. She is passionate about reinventing educational environments for kids by integrating relationship, play and nature into their everyday lives. As a 4.0 Tiny Fellow, she expanded her early childhood pilot program into a full-scale micro school in order to meet the growing needs of her community.
About Their Idea: Green Gate Children’s School is a play and nature-based learning community for creative and active students in preschool-5th grade. We provide a “place for childhood” where each child’s creative spirit and intellect are nurtured and students learn to navigate their life with courage, character, and purpose.
Kim Frusciante | Ourstory NOLA | New Orleans, LA
About Kim: Kim Frusciante is the founder of Ourstory Nola and Kaleidoscope Early Learning. Kim has been a social studies teacher and school leader Dallas and New Orleans. She has over a decade of leadership in curriculum design, culture building, teacher coaching and professional development. She is passionate about integrated schools, history, anti-racist curriculum, supports for working parents, and early childhood development. Kim is the mother of two young children, a proud alumna of Tulane University and is currently working towards her Masters in Education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education.
About their Idea: Ourstory NOLA is an online platform and diverse virtual community of middle and high school students seeking to build a more equitable future for the city of New Orleans. Our community anchors discussion in a variety of primary and secondary sources exploring our local history of racism and anti-racism. Students collect oral histories through interviews with family and community members to create a bank of diverse perspectives on local events. Each unit includes a moderated discussion with students from a diverse range of backgrounds & schools.
Dr. LaTasha Adams & Dr. Dionne Cowan | Dominion Literacy | Atlanta, GA
About LaTasha: Dr. LaTasha Adams (she/her/hers) is the founder of Dominion Literacy — a non-profit that focuses on community literacy and advocacy. She holds a Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction/Urban Education from The University North Carolina at Charlotte; a M.Ed. in Teacher Education from Cambridge College; and a B.A. in English and Religion from Spelman College. She is also an Assistant Professor and Coordinator of Middle Grades Education at Clayton State University. She also serves on several professional and community boards. In her spare time, she enjoys travel with her husband and daughter, Zoe.
About Dionne: Dr. Cowan’s journey over the past two decades has afforded her the opportunity to serve as an elementary and middle school teacher, district numeracy trainer, public and private school principal and assistant principal respectively, director of education for a private learning center, and higher education administrator. She earned a B.A. in Child Development from Spelman College and a M.A. and Ed.D. in Educational Leadership from Georgia State University. She currently serves as the Associate Director of the Principals Center at Georgia State University and as an adjunct professor.
About Their Idea: Dominion Literacy promotes community literacy through advocacy. Their new program, “Promising Parent Pods” promotes community advocacy by creating parent groups that share resources and opportunities for learning about and analyzing social emotional and academic strategies for supporting their children during the pandemic and protests. These groups meet formally each month to learn about and practice strategies that parents can use at home. These groups also meet informally throughout the month as needed. The groups are formed to help families.
Laura Stein | DG Home Krewes | New Orleans, LA
About Laura: Laura Stein is the co-Founder and Executive Director of Dancing Grounds. She is a passionate advocate, educator, artist, and anti-racist organizer. Her greatest joy comes from dancing and moving in community with people of all ages. Laura has had a 20-year career in public service as a program director, teacher, administrator, and policy analyst in arts and education in New Orleans, New York City, Washington D.C., London, and Phnom Penh, Cambodia. She holds an M.P.A. from New York University and a B.A. from Wesleyan University.
About Their Idea: DG Home Krewes will send dance teachers out to the homes of families with multiple children or neighbors supporting each other. Working groups of 2–5, students will create a mini dance krewe with dance styles such as as hip hop, African, Caribbean, New Orleans bounce, modern, and ballet. They will learn choreography to create a video to share on Tik Tok and other social platforms they care about. Sessions will be held safely outdoors and include meditation and breathing exercises.
Martha Diaz | Z Leaders Intership Program | Los Angeles, CA
About Martha: Martha Diaz (she/her/hers) is the founder and CEO of Hip Hop CU (Communiversity), an EdTech public benefit SaaS company that uses distance learning to provide underserved youth, teachers, and adult learners personalized education through culturally relevant curricula, mentorship, and career development opportunities. She launched Hip Hop CU as a 2020 Tiny Fellow after she spent two years working with colleagues, teachers, and students to reimagine education through design thinking and interactive digital technologies. She is committed to challenging systemic inequity and using her experience, skills and resources to make it possible for the most vulnerable and historically marginalized youth to become future-ready and have a chance at a better life.
About Their Idea: Z Leaders Internship Program provides curated discussions with entertainment industry professionals and community leaders, and hands-on learning experiences designed to address systemic inequity and explore career choices. Z Leaders is a workforce development program that builds youth voices, agency, and problem-solving skills to cultivate the next generation of professionals and leaders.
Meg Davis & Scott Davis | Explorable Places | New York, NY
About Meg: Meg Davis is the founder of Explorable Places, where she she has built a platform that bridges the gap between students, teachers and parents and their communities. She has been working in education for nearly 15 years as a teacher, museum educator and education technologist. Meg has a her BA in American Studies from Bates College, an MS in Childhood Education from Teacher U at Hunter College and is an alumni of Teach For America and 4.0 Schools. She is passionate about democratizing access to opportunity and hopes that the Explorable Places platform can begin to break down some of the barriers between students and their community institutions.
About Scott: Scott Davis a software engineer and designer. He is Explorable Places’ lead engineer and cofounder. He has worked as a lead engineer at both large tech companies and in startup environments and is an expert in building elegant solutions that scale well. He is an alumni of LSU and the Recurse Center.
About Their Idea: Explorable Places is an online platform that helps students and teachers find and participate in engaging learning experiences with community partners.
Melanie Richardson & Christine Neely | We PLAY @ Home | New Orleans, LA
About Melanie: Melanie is the co-founder and executive director of TrainingGrounds, a New Orleans based non profit designed to improve early childhood outcomes. In 2017, she led the opening of a We PLAY Center-a space where nurturing parenting strategies are encouraged and children and adults engage in brain building child-led play. Her commitment to quality and relationship based services has led TrainingGrounds to being a trusted source for parents, educators and early childhood leaders throughout New Orleans. Her work is guided by an adaption of a Frederick Douglass quote, “It is easier to build strong boys and girls than to repair broken men and women.”
About Christine: Christine Neely has been in the field of Education for over 20 years and has always worked to improve standards and provide resources to families and students. She received her undergraduate degree from Tulane University and her Masters in Education from Loyola University. Christine has spent over 15 years serving as lead teacher in grades PK-3rd while working closely with administration to mentor new teachers, develop curriculum and make the switch to Common Core. She is an active member of P.E.O International which promotes educational opportunities for women worldwide. She has been married for over 22 years and has two teenage boys.
About Their Idea: We PLAY @ Home provides parents with children ages birth to five with the tools and support to create a fun at-home learning environment. Parents receive age appropriate materials that promote language rich experiences and positively impact brain development. At-home learning is paired with daily virtual support and interactive activities led by parent/child educators. Families have access to a supportive virtual community and receive weekly text messages to support learning at home and to strengthen their role a their child’s first teacher.
Michellea Millis | Community-based Youth Building Engagement & Restoration LAB (C.Y.B.E.R. LAB) | San Antonio, TX
About Michellea: Michellea (she/her/hers) is the Founder/CEO/Edupreneur of BrownSTEM. BrownSTEM creates innovative schools for college and career readiness in underserved communities with a STEMM focus. She has over 21 years as an educator and 10 years of Non-Profit Administration leadership experience. A transplant from NJ/NY and now happily residing in the San Antonio, TX community, she is a passionate activist for ingenuity and edupreneurial innovation focused on closing the national disparity and opportunity gaps for students of color and women especially in 22nd century jobs in STEMM fields.
About Their Idea: Community-based Youth Building Engagement and Restoration (C.Y.B.E.R.) LAB provides asynchronous learning virtually to students of color and girls by engaging them through STEM focused (specifically Cybersecurity)experiential projects.
Mikala Streeter & Khabral Muhammad | Zucchinis Homeschool Co-op | Atlanta, GA
About Mikala: Mikala Streeter is the Founding Principal of The LIFE School, an accredited, nonprofit high school in Atlanta, that has transformed the traditional high school experience to be more personalized, real world, and exploration-focused. Prior to founding The LIFE School, Mikala taught middle and high school computer science and math courses for 7 years, designed project-based STEAM curriculum, and coached teachers around the world. She also co-founded an educational technology company focused on college access. She is a 4.0 Schools Founder Advisor and a SXSWedu conference speaker. Mikala has a B.S. in Computer Science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and an M.A. in Education (Learning, Design, and Technology) from Stanford University.
About Khabral: Khabral Muhammad is an experienced educator, who brings a wide variety of skills in tech, the arts, the sciences and math, as well as a deep understanding of how important it is to instill a love of learning in children. He credits his mother, a retired teacher in Auburn, AL, with giving him a strong and varied academic foundation, which helped him fall in love with learning too. He has a B.A. degree in English from California State University Hayward, minoring in International Writ and Psychology, and to this day remains passionate about nation-building, community organizing and education.
About Their Idea: Zucchinis Homeschool Co-op is a high quality, culturally relevant, play-based learning program for children of color ages 4–10 years old.
Mingming Jiang | Project Buddy | San Francisco, CA
About Mingming: Mingming (she/her/hers) is an Instructional Designer at UC Berkeley. She is also an education consultant helping clients design innovative learning experiences and edtech products. She went through Tiny Fellowship in 2018, and is grateful to be part of the 4.0 community. She received her Masters degree in Learning, Design and Technology from Stanford University. She loves hiking, reading and envisioning the future of education.
About Their Idea: Project Buddy is a student-led mentorship program where high school mentors facilitate hands-on, project-based learning with middle school students via bi-weekly video calls. High school mentors design and facilitate hands-on projects that can be completed using materials available from home and are relevant to what their mentees are currently learning. Mentors not only motivate and inspire their mentees using high quality, interactive learning experience, but also help them navigate challenges that rise in the pandemic.
Monica Chan & Kahhow Lee | CareerContact | New York, NY
About Monica: Monica is pursuing a Doctorate in Education Technology at Columbia University. In the past 5 years, she has had extensive experience working with K-12 schools, from conducting research to consulting and designing culturally relevant edtech solutions. Previously, she participated in 4.0 Schools as a Tiny Fellow and returned as a Junior Scholar in the new Measurement & Evaluation Research Collaborative. Recently, she co-founded CareerContact, an edtech social venture that is developing pilots to connect high school students to local small/medium enterprises (SMEs) that need help due to COVID-19. These are community-oriented, challenge-based learning opportunities, where students are able to learn new skills that they may not necessarily be exposed to in their formal school curricula — such as web development programming, user experience design, content strategy, SEO marketing, data analytics — and at the same time assist local SMEs in bouncing back.
About Kahhow: From after school programs to formal academic subjects, Kahhow has taught in at least 9 institutions in varying capacities in both Singapore (his hometown) and New York City. Kahhow graduated from New York University with a BA in Economics, and from Johns Hopkins University with a MS in Applied Economics. He is now an 11–12th grade high school Economics teacher. Other experiences he has include working as an analyst in a venture fund Palmyra and as a software engineer at a workforce management startup StaffAny.
About Their Idea: CareerContact is piloting a program and curriculum that connects high school students to local small/medium enterprises (SMEs), where students will participate in co-curated challenge-based projects to help the SME they are partnering bounce back from COVID-19 setbacks. Through this experience, CareerContact aims to expose high school students to interdisciplinary professional and technology-related skills — such as web development, content strategy, and user experience design — and simultaneously assist SMEs in digitizing their businesses.
Nakeyshia Kendall & Patrice Fenton | Sparking Joy | San Francisco, CA & Stone Mountain, GA
About Nakeyshia: Nakeyshia Kendall is the Founder and CEO of MindCatcher, a non-profit organization centered on helping educators shift their practice from being educator-led to student-led by using diversity, equity and inclusion competencies (DEI) in their fellowships, retreats and workshops. MindCatcher works with public schools and organizations serving a majority of students of color. Prior to founding MindCatcher, Ms. Kendall led product marketing for a tablet-based, K-12 curriculum at Pearson and co-led an education partnership formed to increase innovative learning practices in public education. The partnership earned grants from prominent foundations, including Silicon Valley Community Foundation, Kellogg Foundation, and Gates Foundation. Ms. Kendall is a member of EdLoC, National Equity Project Leading for Equity Fellowship alum and 4.0 Schools alum. Before her work in education, she spent over a decade in investment banking and private equity. Ms. Kendall holds a BA from Columbia College, Columbia University and MBA from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.
About Patrice: Dr. Patrice E. Fenton is MindCatcher’s Researcher-in-Residence. A leader in identity-responsive research, Dr. Fenton is an equity-centered change strategist, with expertise in leadership and staff development, teacher education, and centering wellness in the workplace. Dr. Fenton is an adjunct assistant professor at Hunter College and a Board member of South Bronx Community Charter High School, the Latinx Education Collaborative and Disruptive Partners. She is also a proud former middle school educator, Brooklyn, NY native, and mom to son, Jair Asad, and daughter, Haile Masani.
About Their Idea: Sparking Joy will create a virtual space for youth ages 11–13 to talk about what goes on in and out of school and be themselves without being judged.
Natalie Smith | Virtual Language Classes | Washington, D.C.
About Natalie: Natalie Smith (she/her/hers) is Founder and CEO of Global Citizens Public Charter School in Washington, DC. Over the last 20 years, she has served as a teacher, instructional coach, school leader, and leadership coach in local public schools. Previously, Natalie served as Head of School at Sela Public Charter School, a Hebrew language immersion school in Washington, DC, where she led the school to achieve Tier I status. Natalie earned Ph.D. and M.A. degrees from University of Maryland, College Park, and a B.S. degree from Georgetown University. Natalie is a member of the DC State Superintendent of Education’s Principal Advisory Council.
About Their Idea: Global Citizens Public Charter School provides equitable access to children ages 3–10 by offering free virtual Mandarin Chinese and Spanish language classes.
Paris Woods | Harris County Promise | Houston, TX
About Paris: Paris Woods is the founding Managing Director of Harris County Promise, a Good Reason Houston program established to increase college credential and degree attainment for the region. Paris is the co-founder and former executive director of College Beyond in New Orleans, and is an alumna of the 4.0 Essentials and Launch fellowships. Paris holds a bachelor’s degree in African American Studies and master’s degree in Education Policy & Management from Harvard University, and is currently a doctoral student at the University of Texas at Austin in Higher Education Leadership.
About Their Idea: Harris County Promise is a partnership between PK-12 organizations and higher education institutions to increase college credential and degree attainment for the region. The Harris County Promise program is available to all Texas resident seniors from participating high schools, regardless of high school GPA or income. Eligible seniors who become Promise Scholars receive guaranteed tuition and fees, assistance with books, and additional support to help them complete their degrees.
Sari Levy | Make It Count Math | New Orleans, LA
About Sari: Sari Levy (she, her, hers) is an enthusiastic educator with 14 years of teaching, coaching, and leadership experience. For the past 5 years, she taught at Bricolage Academy, where she established the Bridges Math Curriculum and founded the math intervention program. Prior to Bricolage, Sari served as Assistant Principal and 2nd & 3rd grade teacher at ARISE Academy. She developed new concepts for math education as part of fellowships with 4.0 Schools and New Schools for New Orleans. She has two kids, Edwin and Lucas. Sari enjoys cooking, dancing, and hand embroidery.
About Their Idea: Make It Count Math (MICM) provides meaningful math moments for students and families. This engaging and discussion-based math tutoring program offers academic support and continued practice with grade-level math content. The program makes math learning come alive through games and real world problems. Make It Count Math works with kids of all levels, K-6th grade. MICM supports parents too, so they can support kids between sessions and beyond. MICM operates on a sliding scale where no family is turned away because they cannot pay.
Tammy Kwan | Cognitive ToyBox at Home | New York, NY
About Tammy: Tammy Kwan is the co-founder and CEO of Cognitive ToyBox, an edtech company that integrates research and technology to support early childhood educators, families and children. She has worked with some of the largest school districts and community based organizations in the US to make assessment easy and actionable. Her work has received support from the National Science Foundation and the Department of Education. Tammy holds an MBA from NYU Stern, a BA in Psychology from Stanford University, and is pursuing a Doctorate in Education from NYU Steinhardt.
About Their Idea: CTB at Home enables early childhood educators to closely collaborate with families and support their child in a remote learning context. A lapse in high-quality early childhood education puts the youngest learners at risk of falling behind in school readiness. With CTB at Home, teachers have access to ongoing information on each child’s development and be able to provide better support in the remote context. Moreover, families have access to high-quality, low-touch resources to support their child at home.
Tatiana Feldman & Eli Szus | New York, NY
About Tatiana: Originally born in Latin America, Tatiana came to the U.S. as a child, and studied Journalism at NYU on a merit-based scholarship, graduating summa cum laude. Before dedicating herself fully to her idea, Tatiana was a finance professional with over a decade of Wall Street experience. Tatiana is now a mom of three and developed Circletime after years of research, discussions with experts, and personal experience. Her personal mission is to harness smart devices to bring the best in early childhood science, thought leadership, and practice to every household to provide educational equity when it is most critical, at the start!
About Eli: Eli worked with various early stage startups and was the founding CTO of SeatServe — providing technologies for large venues around the world.
About Their Idea: Circletime supports families to build rich home learning environments through a platform of experiential live, online classes led by educators who specialize in early childhood. HLEs are the most important factor in lifelong learning success. Our unique and engaging classes run the gamut in terms of content (STEM, Art, Literacy, Fitness, Mindfulness) to support cognitive, physical and socio-emotional development in children 0–8 years old.
Dr. Tracey Clark | Greenhouse Cul-de-sac Kid’s Club | Smyrna, GA
About Tracey: Dr. Tracey Dumas Clark is curriculum and instructional specialist, professional developer, author, teacherpreneur, and most importantly a mother who is determined to leave the planet in better shape than she found it. She is the CEO of Dumas Clark Curriculum Consulting (DC3), a LLC focused on equipping educators with the art, smart, and heart of teaching by facilitating dynamic, engaging, and reflective learning experiences that liberate and empower. Dr. Clark is also the founder of the Greenhouse Academy of Professional Partners (GAPP), a teacher powered student designed micro-school whose mission is to empower the next generation of innovative servant leaders by providing hands on problem based educational opportunities in a student centered, impact focused, toxic free, healthy and sustainable learning environment. Dr. Clark’s purpose in life is to create a world of critical thinkers, innovators, and problem solvers committed to acts of service in the global quest to create and maintain a healthy, socially just, equitable, and sustainable future.
About Their Idea: Cul-de-sac Kid’s Club is a face-to-face learning lab for elementary kids ages 6–11. This Saturday morning program is an opportunity for community kids to come together in a socially distanced outdoor space to learn with and from their peers under the care of a certified teacher. Parents can enjoy a kid free moment of rest while trusting that their child is safely learning just within their reach.