Meet Our Wave 6 Tiny Fellows!
We’ve selected 46 teams to join our 2019–20 Tiny Fellowship to pilot their innovative ideas with their communities to build a more equitable future of education.
Today, we’re thrilled to announce the 2019–20 Wave 6 Tiny Fellows who are joining our community! Our staff and alumni had reviewed over 260 applications and held 99 interviews for Tiny this year. We cannot be more proud of the 46 innovative teams we’ve selected from that process will be piloting a diversity of ideas with their communities.
The Tiny Fellowship will take these aspiring founders from an idea with early traction to a proof point that is ready to grow. They’ll learn how to plan, run, and evaluate a recurring, part-time pilot (like an after-school club). They’ll receive coaching from alumni founders, up to $10k in pilot funding, and a community of peers, all pushing themselves to run disciplined tests of their ideas with their communities. By the end of the Tiny Fellowship, these 46 teams will have evidence of if their idea works and if people want it, and have support for moving forward.
If you have an idea for how to build a more equitable future of education, 4.0 is here to help you start. Our applications for the Tiny and Essentials Fellowships will open again in Fall 2020. Visit our website for more information and to sign up for our newsletter to stay in the know.
For now, join us in welcoming the Wave 6 Fellows to the 4.0 community!
Meet the 2019–20 Wave 6 Tiny Fellows
Destiny Woodbury | Houston, TX
About Destiny: Destiny Shantell Woodbury is from Rhode Island. She is entering her 13th year in education and is the Founder and CEO of The Anchor School. Destiny began her teaching career with TFA in 2007. She was a School Leader at YES Prep and Achievement First and an Instructional Coach with TFA-Houston. Destiny received her B.S. and B.A. in Chemistry and Secondary Education with a minor in Leadership Studies from the University of Rhode Island and received her M.Ed in Educational Administration and Supervision from National-Louis University.
About Their Idea: The Anchor School is a predominantly African American middle school in the low-income communities of Third Ward and Sunnyside Houston that provides teachers, administrators AND students PD during the school day on Restorative and Trauma-Informed Practices, Diversity, Equity and Inclusiveness, Social Emotional Learning, Wellness, and Mental Health.
Apryl Felder | Atlanta, Georgia
About Apryl: Apryl is a dreamer and a doer with a lifelong passion for the future of school. With 4.0’s help, Apryl ran a successful pop-up based on the tenants of democratic schooling and aspires to expand the opportunity of self-directed education to at-risk public school-aged children by co-creating with them a collaborative democratic learning space where they can successfully bridge pathways to success.
About Their Idea: The Atlanta Free School will provide the opportunity of self-directed education to at-risk public school-aged black children by co-creating with them a collaborative democratic learning space where they can bridge pathway
Jaime Johnson-Duplessis | New Orleans
About Jaime: New Orleans native, Dr. Jaime Johnson-Duplessis is an experienced educator with experience in both Middle and High School classrooms, Special Education, and as a leader within a national nonprofit organization which promotes college access to scholars in New Orleans. Jaime holds an Educational Administration Doctoral Degree with a research background which includes published works on Black Feminist Theory, Activism, School Leadership, and Culturally Responsive Pedagogy. An education-entrepreneur, Dr. Jaime-Johnson Duplessis has worked alongside her design team to develop a school model which promotes equity, deeper learning, and innovation under Ivy NOLA’s 4G Experience (Gifted, Guided, Glowing, and Growing).
About Their Idea: Ivy New Orleans Leadership is New Orleans’ only all girls charter school designed to empower scholars to lead their way through our innovative program which integrates academic support, leadership development, and wellness. Our girls are empowered to grow, glow, and explore their gifts through guidance from our school community.
Wanda Clark & Easter White | Fayetteville, Georgia
About Wanda: Wanda started her career as an educator in a school where 80% of the students received free or reduced meals. She realized that illiteracy was not only a problem with many of my students, but with the parents as well. Focusing on literacy, She had the opportunity to transfer to a school that was a part of the Reading First initiative. This training equipped her with the skills to address the literacy gaps of her students. After the Reading First Program, she became a Literacy Coach in Fulton County where she was able to empower teachers to become literacy advocates.
About Easter: Easter is a 31 year educator who is passionate about literacy. She taught for 22 years in the Central Learning Community Fulton County School System most of that time was spent as a EIP (Early Intervention Program) teacher. After leaving the classroom, she served as a literacy coach for 5 years. Easter then transitioned to the Title I ELA Lead Coach position for the Central Learning Community where her primary focus was to support the school-based Title I Literacy Coaches in their effort to improve literacy in their schools and community.
About Their Idea: The Family Literacy Empowerment Project empowers parents with the necessary pre-emergent literacy skills in order to work with their children in the home in order to better prepared their children for success in the PreK and Kindergarten programs.
Ameerah Bello | Atlanta, GA
About Ameerah: Only after spending time home-educating her children did Ameerah Bello, a fifteen-year public school teacher, stumble upon the gap that exists between math expectations for young children and their actual math capabilities. After much research, trial, and actual use she discovered the tremendous benefits of abacus-based math instruction, and envisioned an America that adopted this tool which has long benefited countries who continually out-pace us in mathematical achievement. Inspired, Ameerah developed her own simplified abacus-like apparatus to make math mastery in preschool-aged children and kindergarteners a more universal, realistically attainable goal.
About Their Idea: A modified abacus-like tool to improve the foundational math skills of 3- to 7-year-olds that is implemented by introducing the tool along with fundamental abacus-teaching approaches and strategies to families and educators. The redesigned tool makes improvement upon the ‘traditional’ soroban abacus, making it more intuitive, and also more adaptable for various learning levels.
Natalie Smith | Washington, D.C.
About: Natalie Smith is the Founder and CEO of Global Citizens School. Previously, Natalie served for three years as Head of School at Sela Public Charter School, a Hebrew language immersion charter school in Washington, D.C. She developed Sela’s dual-language, academic, and social-emotional programs and increased student growth by over 50% in literacy and math — earning Sela a Tier 1 ranking from the D.C. Public Charter School Board.
About Their Idea: Global Citizens School will be the first dual language immersion public elementary school in Washington, DC, that offers language immersion in both Mandarin-English and Spanish-English, the top three languages spoken in the world. Global Citizens School aims to eliminate the barriers to educational opportunities for Black and Brown children, Pre-K3–5th grade, living east of the Anacostia River in Ward 7, by providing equitable access to a high quality dual language immersion school.
Ashley Brown | New Orleans, LA
About Ashley: Ashley graduated from Spelman College in Atlanta, her hometown, in 2010 and knew that the field of education was where she was most passionate. She volunteered at schools in the Atlanta area and saw the need for dedicated educators and the impact they had on students’ lives. In 2011, Ashley was accepted to TeachNOLA in New Orleans and began teaching. As a teacher, she learned much about the impact of quality instruction and developing as an educator. In 2017 and 2018, Ashley served, with zest and enthusiasm, as primary school Assistant Principal. She currently serves as a kindergarten teacher.
About Their Idea: The Village Charter School provides innovative and culturally/socially conscious approach to education by emphasizing the connection between student’s village/community and their educational progress and life success. Through quality community based curriculum and community experiences, students will understand their impact on their village and the impact of their village on them.
Naqibah Al-Kaleem & Jesse Leavitt | Boston, Massachusetts
About Naqibah: Naqibah is a Boston native and the mother of a wonderfully spirited son. She currently reside in Roxbury and is looking to use her education and experience to adequately support healing and restorative change in her community. Helping people through health and wellness initiatives, solving problems with a win-win wholistic approach, and creating inclusive systems of operation is her passion. She has a degree in Human Service. She loves science, nature, and generally all forms of dance, and practices reiki, meditation, Tui Na Massage. Naqibah loves connecting with people and learning new things.
About Jesse: Jesse is passionate about social justice and facilitating “light-bulb” moments in groups and in individual advising through listening/questioning, quotes/readings, and experiential/nature-based learning. He provides advising for 40 scholarship students, many bringing strengths and challenges related to immigrant, LGBTQ, low-income, or racial minority identities. Jesse also advises student-led community service programs using protocols and resources to grow undergraduates’ authentic leadership.
Their Idea: The Fire Collective curates retreats for educators to dedicate time to collective care practices, embodied (un)learning, and healing through ritual, reflection, nature, and arts. Retreats offer space to normalize narratives, communication, rituals, and arts that uplift multi-ethnic, teacher-led, and healing-centered visions of school change.
Phillip Hon | Stockton, CA
About Phillip: Phillip is returning to his hometown of Stockton, and as a UnifED Fellow starting an intentionally diverse school with a focus on pluralism. His career has taken him to many places where he has focused on advancing equity through national and local roles in education, policy, and nonprofits. Within schools, he has worked to provide educational excellence to students and communities as a teacher, academic coach, and vice principal at the elementary, middle school, and high school levels. He is currently serving as the Dean of Culture at Yu Ming Charter School in Oakland, California.
About Their Idea: Unbound Stockton Community School — Engage across lines of difference. Our learning model unpacks why difference & division exist while affirming identity, creating dialogue & cultural competency. We catalyze youth to undo systems that separate us & create an unbound society.
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. 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.
About Eli: Eli worked with various early stage startups and was the founding CTO of SeatServe — providing technologies for large venues around the world. Previously, Eli worked in the marketing world, leading teams in full stack development and production. Looking to apply his technology skills to education, Eli I joined the board of directors at Tiegerman (formerly the School for Language and Communication Development. Circletime is an opportunity to provide parents with meaningful hands-on opportunities to educate their children.
About Their Idea: Circletime is a simple-to-use app helping mothers carve out time for activities with their children, with minimal effort and without breaking the bank. The best-of-breed early childhood classes are streamed live, to be enjoyed mommy-and-me style. Sessions reinforce responsive caregiving, comply with AAP screen time guidelines and support age-appropriate development.
Michellea Millis | Gainesville, FL
About Michellea: Michellea has 20 years experience in Education and 10 years in Non-Profit Administration. She has served in every role in Education except a Superintendent. In the last 10 years, she has been an instructional and leadership coach working with charter schools to improve teacher and leader effectiveness to increase student achievement and organizational performance. In her 20 year history, Michellea as worked in New Jersey, New York, Louisiana, Florida, and Texas. She is passionate about creating, nurturing, and sustaining high performing cultures of learning in underserved communities. She is an avid movie watcher and traveler.
About Their Idea: BrownSTEM’s mission and vision is to create innovative schools for college and career readiness for underserved students in the East, Gainesville, FL community with a focus on the STEM strand of Cybersecurity
Saymah Nah — Washington, DC
About Saymah: Saymah Nah has made it her personal priority to change the outcomes for black and brown students from neighborhoods similar to her own. Saymah believes that in order to equitably serve black and brown students we must educate holistically through academics, socioemotional support, and rewarding experiences. No factor is greater than the other. Saymah obtained her BA in English from Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey and her MA in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies from Howard University.
About Their Idea: It will take 228 years for black people to build the wealth of their white counterparts. We are not waiting. The Garden is strategically designed to close the 228 year racial wealth gap.This school model addresses the need to close the racial wealth gap. Our students will receive real life experiences and learn about how to grow their ideas into businesses and the art of investing.
Holly Morris — Seattle, WA
About Holly: Holly leads Global Voice, an innovative organization co-designing and developing equity-focused, human-centered solutions for stakeholders in ELL/education space. Recognizing that all innovation brings change, Holly uses knowledge of change management frameworks to help leaders navigate as they and their organizations evolve and change. Holly also teaches human-centered design to leaders and teams. To all of this work, Holly brings ten plus years of experience in adaptive coaching, building leadership capacity within organizations for exceptional results.
About Their Idea: Teachers can meet and teach all bilingual learners using Global Voice. Using the app, teachers can make authentic connections with their students and families and make academic lessons accessible to learners speaking any language, at any level.
Jessica Turnquest & Marilyn Edmunds | Washington D.C.
About Jessica: Jessica began her career teaching English in Houston with TFA. In her Master’s program, she built her knowledge around policy, school law, and mandatory reporting. She later served as an Instructional Coach at Breakthrough Collaborative. After her teaching experience, she knew she wanted to stay in the education space to advance equity and opportunity for children and marginalized communities. She had the opportunity to this by working closely with DC Prep and Building Excellent Schools. She believes every community is beautiful, every child can learn, every teacher is impactful, and every idea that helps our world is transformational.
About Marilyn: Marilyn began her career as an educator with TFA because early on she realized she was privileged to live in an area that had great schools which helped shape her educational experience into a positive one. She was challenged throughout her educational career and college was an expectation for her. She became a teacher so that this experience is not the exception but the expectation for everyone in her community. She believes that all students deserve an excellent education and we can achieve that through targeted investment in developing high-quality teachers and leaders.
About Their Idea: True Education “truEd” identifies, develops, and supports determined individuals of color to teach in high needs communities so that teachers in every school will reflect the great diversity of our nation’s next generation.
Katie Saiz — Wichita, KS
About Katie: Katie has been working with young children in various educational settings for 23 years. Currently, she runs a small home-based early learning program for preschoolers. As a working mom of two, she earned a B.A. in Child Development & Human Services from FHSU and a graduate level certification in Literacy Intervention. She has a love for reading, nature, and simple living and is passionate about creating alternative educational environments which inspire kids to direct their own learning, explore their interests, and live out their lives with courage, character, and purpose.
About Their Idea: Green Gate Early Learning will be a nature-based preschool and childcare program designed for children 2 ½ -5 years of age. We provide a “place for childhood” where children can connect to the natural world in a home-like preschool setting rich in relationship, play, and the activities of daily life.
Lisa María Rhodes | New Orleans, LA
About Lisa María: Lisa María is devoted to increasing access to education and mental health supports for high school students and graduates in New Orleans. She is currently Director of Alumni Mental Health Services for Collegiate Academies Next. Inspired by past work with Orleans Public Defenders, Evangelical Immigration Table and Christian Community Development Association, Lisa Maria developed a system of support for students involved in criminal justice or immigration court systems at George Washington Carver High School, which she is now scaling to launch ALAS, a nonprofit that trains educators to create educational access for youth involved in immigration or criminal justice systems.
About Their Idea: ALAS creates educational access for immigrant and court involved youth by training educators to advocate for students by writing mitigation letters to judges and connecting undocumented students with pro bono or low bono legal representation.
Atianna Cordova | New Orleans, LA
About Atianna: Atianna is a New Orleans native, and passionate about using design to advance social and environmental justice in communities of color. She founded WATER BLOCK in 2018 to address flooding in neighborhood blocks, and spur community driven development. Her startup won the grand prize at the 2018 Propeller Water Challenge Pitch Competition. Atianna has received awards for excellence in architecture, served on Mayor Cantrell’s Transition Committee, selected as a 2017 Salzburg Global Fellow, and was chosen for C40’s 2019 Women4Climate cohort. Atianna received her Bachelor of Architecture from LSU, her M.Sc in Disaster Resilience Leadership from Tulane University and certificate in Community Development Finance from the University of New Orleans.
About Their Idea: WATER BLOCK Kids aims to educate black girls, 8–11 years old, about the natural and built environment by providing educational books and experiential learning workshops that promote critical thinking, responsible citizenship, global awareness, and positive self image.
Martha Diaz — Los Angeles, Ca
About Martha: Martha Diaz “MD” is a community organizer, media producer, archivist, curator, and educator. MD’s work has traversed the entertainment industry, the public arts and education sector, and the academy over the last 25 years. Her passion is advancing human rights and transforming communities through hip-hop, media, technology, and social entrepreneurship. MD has produced several community-based initiatives and solution-driven platforms that address social inequities, transform public spaces, and challenge epistemologies around the production of hip-hop. Through her publications of research reports, books, and curricula she chronicles hip-hop history, cultivates the field of hip-hop education, and preserves the culture for future generations.
About Their Idea: The HHFS is a virtual platform and global network, where youth who were formerly disconnected, siloed, or inaccessible to our student population, will get an equitable opportunity to learn at their own pace, connect to communities of interest, and collaborate with others to re-engage, develop agency, and design their career.
Mathieu Williams and Bill Chen | Kailua-Kona, Hawai’i
About Mathieu: Mathieu is the current media and technology teacher at Kealakehe Intermediate School. Through the hard work of his students and support from his colleagues and community, he was recently named Hawa’i’s 2019 State Teacher of the Year. Mathieu holds a degree in Business Administration and an M.Ed in Educational Leadership. He constantly seeks opportunities and collaborations that connect student’s passions with the world’s greatest needs. He is passionate about human-centered and place-based design. He and his students live by the mission of lead from every chair, work from the heart and challenge your limits.
About Bill: Bill has a BA in Economics and Minors in Education and Public Policy from University of California, Berkeley, a MS in Elementary Education from Johns Hopkins University, a M.Ed in Public School Building Administration from Teachers College Columbia University. In his seven years at Kahakai Elementary in Kailua Kona, HI, he participated in the Na Kumu Alaka’i Teacher Leadership Academy, School Systems Leaders Pathway, and Rural School Leaders Academy. His passion is creating successful schools building a strong sense of belonging, responsibility, excellence, aloha, total well-being, and Hawai’i.
About Their Idea: Hale o ka Lanakila will house earning experiences, opportunities, and partnerships in a physical space for students to access on a daily basis. Just as you pick and choose the muscle group you want to strengthen, youth would choose their learning based upon their curiosities.
NJ Mvondo — Davis, CA
About NJ: NJ Mvondo is a writer, multicultural pop-up bookstore owner and community organizer based in Davis, California. She advocates cultural diversity in children’s literature, and shares resources on her various platforms, including on her blog Multiculturalism Rocks! She helps schools and Public libraries set up culturally diverse and educational events, while also providing access to hard to find multicultural and bilingual books for classrooms, educators and families, specifically from authors of color and independent presses.
About Their Idea: Multiculturalism Rocks! Celebrates our world’s diversity by connecting young readers with the multicultural, including bilingual, Books that they’re looking for.
Pranati “Pranoo” Kumar and Desiree Hunter | West Palm Beach, FL & Brooklyn, New York
About Pranoo: Pranoo is a career changer from medicine to education- committed to culturally responsive practice. She taught for 6 years (PreK- 4th) at Success Academy, serving as Labsite Leader, creating PreK curriculum, the AT Development program, and was a two time recipient of the SA Teacher Excellence Award. She then served as Founding Instructional Leader/Leadership Coach at Impact Public Schools-the first elementary charter in Seattle. Here, she created an activism, identity driven PBL curriculum. She recently founded, divHERse, education consulting focused on representation of women of color in ed leadership. Currently, she is the Education and Training Specialist at FLI.
About Desiree: Desiree began her career as a TFA Corps Member, was the founding social worker and Dean of Students at Achievement First, and served as Principal of National Blue Ribbon School, Bronx Charter School for Excellence. As the Managing Director of FLI, Desiree’s commitment to representation has come to life through her development of FLI’s Educator Project Fellowship for aspiring teachers. Desiree spends free time volunteering in CBO’s focused on equity and the arts. Desiree has a BA in Psychology from UofM, her MSW from Columbia University, and her MS.Ed. in Administration and Leadership from the College of St. Rose.
About Their Idea: For some, the word “math” elicits discomfort. However, what if students dove into a math problem, discovered diverse strategies and presented their understanding with pride? This new fellowship prepares visionary educators to understand the way children approach numbers.
Rebecca Gartner and Ellie Adelman — Denever, CO
About Rebecca: Rebecca is an early-childhood teacher passionate about cultural and educational equity. For the past 6 years, she has taught preschool and was the director at a daycare. Her year as an ESL teacher in Thailand taught her the value of cultural exchange, and the need we have in the US for cultural diversity in our education. Rebecca is now am teaming up with a group on The Village Institute’s mission with her personal focus on the multicultural childcare sector.
About Ellie: Ellie has spent over a decade working in international community development, peace-building, gender equity advocacy and trauma therapy. She has started and run multiple women’s leadership and family development initiatives around the world. As a white, Jewish American woman with a family history of forced migration and persecution, Ellie also sees her work with refugee families as a birthright — a way to pay forward the privilege of safety and comfort she was given by her immigrant family.
About Their Idea: The Village Institute helps refugee, single mothers get beyond “just getting by” in a trauma-informed live/learn/work space where they can build skills & community. A culturally diverse early childhood center is the backbone to its success.
Anika Rich | Washington D.C.
About Anika: Anika T. Rich is an educator from Washington, D.C. She taught third grade in the DC area as a Teach for America corps member and has worked with PK-12 students in various out-of-school time programs for nearly a decade. Anika is committed to closing skill and opportunity gaps for young people so that they have what they need to achieve their dreams. Anika earned a B.S. in Human Development from Howard University and an M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction from George Mason University.
About Their Idea: Moonstone Education provides personal and professional development for young women and gender-expansive people of color through community engagement and social action.
Niesha Freeman | New Orleans, LA
Niesha K. Freeman is most passionate about helping underserved young people from her hometown, New Orleans. Like many of our youth today she had no voice growing up in her crime-infested neighborhood. Her childhood environment served as motivation. In 2015 Niesha became the Founder and Executive Director of the non-profit Knowing Your Destiny, Inc (KYD). As the Founder and Executive Director, she developed and implemented programs for the betterment of New Orleans’ young people. The founded organization’s well-known program, Geaux Ready, has helped 50 participants earn $40,000 for their future endeavors after high school and teach financial literacy.
About Their Idea: The Geaux Ready Program gives young people ages 15–21 the opportunity to take financial ownership of their future by helping them obtain employment in order to SAVE and invest money for their future endeavors.’
Cassandra St. Vil | Baltimore, MD
About Cassandra: Cassandra is passionate about affirming Black identities in schools. She is a trained Africanist, international social worker and experienced high school teacher, working with diverse adolescents for nearly 20 years and in over 30 countries. A Teach for America, Peace Corps and Fulbright Scholar alumna, she currently teaches high school history in Washington, D.C. and lives in Baltimore with her lively Labrador. She is a graduate of Howard University, Harvard Graduate School of Education, Hunter College, University of Michigan and Buffalo State College in African Studies, school design, special education, and social work.
About Their Idea: Washington’s D.C.’s college-preparatory high school for diverse students, learning from African-centered curriculum to counter racism in the world.
Brandon Taylor | New York, NY
About Brandon: Brandon serves as the Director of Curriculum and Instruction at DREAM Charter High School. Originally from South Jamaica, Queens, NY, he wants to ensure that future generations are prepared to address the major social and environmental issues of the future. In his role, he works to cultivate the next generation of leaders by guiding teachers in creating learning opportunities rooted in the pedagogy of play. Developing historically-informed methods of resisting oppression is a critical tenet of his pedagogy and he believes students should see their education as an instrument for social change and be fully engaged with the process while doing it.
About Their Idea: Model Justice League (MJL) is a political simulation for high school students to act as modern or historic leaders who work to solve today’s problems. MJL empowers young leaders to envision change by learning key academic, leadership and social emotions skills through the perspectives of the past.
Edith Arias | San Francisco, CA
About Edith: Edith was born in Mexico and came to San Francisco when she was 17. She loved school, but it was the advisor at the Latino group she joined who convinced and guided her to apply to college. She attended one semester at UC Santa Barbara before dropping out to get married. Years later, with her three children in school, she decided to take a computer class, and with help from another encouraging advisor, she continued school. Edith completed her teaching credential and a masters in special education. She is currently a Special Education teacher in San Francisco, and a community organizer.
About Their Idea: Padres en Acción helps Spanish speaking students and parents take full advantage of local educational opportunities and prepare for careers by learning about available resources.
Johnaé Strong | Chicago, IL
About Johnaé: Johnaé Strong is an educator, organizer, and writer working at the intersection of social movements, healing, and education. She is a founding member and leader of BYP100, a political organization for Black people 18–35 working for liberation for all Black people. He rwork spans across community and labor focusing on campaigns against state violence and school privatization and amplifying community-led strategies for creating a more just and safe society. Johnaé holds a Bachelor of Arts in International Studies and Master’s of Arts in Education from the University of Chicago.
About Their Idea: Razing to Restore is an online academy focused on organizing and restorative practices to bring emerging change makers including parents, teachers, and students together to build plans of action in their local community to address inequity in education while honoring human dignity of folks at the margins.
Matsuo Marti | Chicago, IL
About Matsuo: Matsuo, a naturally curious scientist, is passionate about igniting the spark within all children to use their imagination to see what has yet to be seen, create what has yet to be created, and dream what has yet to be dreamt. After an engineering career, Matsuo taught mathematics and became the founding principal of an innovative, early college STEM high school. As Director of STEM, Matsuo led initiatives to increase STEM equity and access for all students. Currently, Matsuo is leading a reimagined high school experience that emboldens students to impact communities as consultants, innovators and social entrepreneurs.
About Their Idea: Chicago School for Social Entrepreneurs (CHISE) is an innovative high school experience that inspires passions, infuses strong, supportive relationships, and challenges students to impact their communities as social entrepreneurs and innovators. CHISE aims to empower students to design and implement solutions to real social challenges and become fearless leaders uncovering their unique talents and gifts.
Ronald Towns and Zachary Bell | Oakland,CA
About Ronald: Ronald grew up in a black, working and middle class community. He received a scholarship to attend a private high school that was in a predominantly white, suburban community. Family members regularly told him to not trust white people while parents of his classmates would not let their children come to his house because Detroit was dangerous. He became an educator and the co-founder of Camp Common Ground to eliminate the discomfort that people from different racial and economic groups feel towards one another. He’s worked as an educator for the last 12 years to do this work with youth.
About Zach: Zach is a math teacher at Oakland SOL, a dual language public middle school in Oakland. At SOL, he also runs a boy’s group through the nonprofit Ever Forward Club, is the basketball coach, and union rep. Zach earned his teaching credential through the BATTI Teacher Residency Program, and his M.A. in Education at the University of the Pacific. He previously was the 6th and 7th grade assistant math teacher at Julia Morgan School for Girls in Oakland, a 7th grade humanities resident teacher at Lazear Charter Academy in East Oakland, and after school director at Urban Montessori Charter School.
About Their Idea: We end racial bullying when students build relationships across cultural lines. Common Ground Leadership Club trains youth leaders to bridge cultural gaps between their peers to create inclusive schools communities.
Libby Curran — Wilmot, NH
About Libby: Libby is an early childhood teacher and special educator for over 25 years. Her greatest passion is teaching children to read because reading is key to success in school and life and the most direct route to interrupt the vicious cycle of generational poverty. She have authored hundreds of “little books” and created the Reading Train mobile apps so beginning readers can have a huge collection of books to read at school and at home. Awards include the Christa McAuliffe Sabbatical Award, a 2012 People Magazine Teacher of the Year Award and the 2015 International Literacy Association Grand Prize for Technology and Reading.
About Their Idea: Reading Train provides hundreds of print and digital story books with audio and visual supports so that the earliest readers, special education students and English Language Learners, can read and record the books, independently, building self-confidence, vocabulary, and essential early reading skills while fostering a love of reading.
Domari Lewis | Frederick, Maryland
About Domari: Domari Lewis is an educational consultant who has worked with school districts, school leaders, teachers, parents and educational companies from across the country to help increase student success. She is passionate about teaching and has been committed to educating inner-city students for more than fifteen years. Two of the accomplishments that she is most proud of are being featured in Doug Lemov’s book “Teach Like a Champion” and being a mom to her four amazing children. In her spare time, Domari loves to watch crime drama tv shows and dance to reggae music.
About Their Idea: Domari is building a community of black women who are against using physical punishment to discipline their children. These women are working together to create strong, positive relationships with their kids and they are committed to fostering a legacy of love, honor, support and respect.
Carmen Cruz and Angelo Cruz | New Braunfels, TX
About Carmen: Carmen Cruz, Ed.D., is a First-Generation STEM Latina Educational Leader, Author, Mentor, Advocate, Chief Program Officer and Co-Founder of 1st-Gen Scholars. Dr. Cruz is passionate about mentoring students to cross the finish line to graduate. Dr. Cruz received her Bachelors from Washington State University and both her Masters and Doctor of Education Degrees from Stephen F. Austin University. Dr. Cruz is an editor for the Journal of Hispanic Higher Education, Dissertation Award Committee Co-Chair: AERA Latina/o/x RI SIG, a current member/reviewer for AERA, ASHE, NASPA, and UNM. Her research interests include: diversity/equity/inclusion, Latina/o student access/persistence/retention, mentoring/coaching programs, and STEM education.
About Their Idea: 1st-Gen Scholars seeks to partner with a Title I elementary school in NISD to address science underachievement by implementing a Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics (STEAM) afterschool program that will empower 4th and fifth grade students, teachers, and administrators that to engage in hands on learning in STEAM.
Sinthuja Nagalingam and Jimmy Kam | Evanston, IL
About Sinthuja: At her undergraduate institution, Sinthuja spent a lot of time tutoring students in the local community. After graduating, she initially entered the corporate world but quickly realized that she wanted to pursue her passion in education. After two years, she became a high school math teacher through Teach for America. After teaching for a few years, she was inspired to join a personalized learning initiative aimed at providing every student the resources they needed to excel. Now, she is pursuing her MBA and exploring how she can be a social entrepreneur in education.
About Jimmy: Jimmy is currently a second-year MBA student at Northwestern University. She is the co-founder and COO of Tilt. Prior to MBA, she had worked as a management consultant at Boston Consulting Group, where she led the Social Impact committee on top of her day-to-day consulting work. She also advised on education strategy for the leading philanthropic organization in Hong Kong. As a first generation student from Hong Kong, Jimmy’s keen on empowering students to achieve their college and career goals. She’s an active mentor in her high school and college, and was a summer camp English teacher serving under-privileged students.
About Their Idea: Tilt is closing the guidance gap and leveling the playing field for college admissions by providing students with the support they need to search for careers, apply to colleges, and plan their financials.
Karima Wilson | Houston, TX
About Karima: Karima Wilson, founder of EquityHow, supports schools in forging a new school experience for students of color through tools and trainings that help schools create affirming, rigorous learning communities. Karima has over a decade of experience, as a teacher and principal. Her passion is building supportive communities for educators and students to support their rigorous intellectual development. Karima won the KIPP Harriet Ball Excellence in Teaching Award. She earned her Bachelor’s degree from Swarthmore College and her master’s degree from Harvard Graduate School of Education. In her free time, she likes to cook and play capoeira.
About Their Idea: “Mirrors & Windows” (working title) is an advisory curriculum that helps youth explore and affirm their ethnic & racial identities, complemented by training for educators to effectively lead the curriculum.
Kendra Denmark | Atlanta, GA
About Kendra: Kendra is a Georgia native with aspirations to change the world, one youth at a time, through financial empowerment. With over a decade of experience in working with young adults, it has become her passion to encourage youth to get a jump start on securing their financial futures. As the Assistant Project Director for TRiO Student Support Services at Georgia State University, she has the pleasure of helping first generation, low income college students achieve their personal and academic goals. It is her life’s mission to give back by cultivating our youth.
About Their Idea: Clear Academy is a mobile classroom for youth that provides access to easy to learn resources to help them enhance their financial literacy skills — like a financial food truck.
Marisa Hamamoto | Los Angeles, CA
About Marisa: Marisa is a professional dancer and a stroke survivor who was temporarily paralyzed from the neck down while in college. This life changing incident led her to create Infinite Flow, a professional dance company composed of dancers with and without disabilities using dance as a catalyst to inspire inclusivity and innovation. Since 2015, Infinite Flow has performed over 100 events, from community fairs to corporate events with Apple, Red Bull, Porsche, Kaiser Permanente, and others. Their videos have been viewed by 70 Million+ people on Facebook alone, and they have organized 200+ inclusive dance classes.
About Their Idea: #InfiniteInclusion Schools — A web-based platform & video series led by dancers with and without disabilities, empowering students K-5 to celebrate diversity and thrive through challenges, while improving on inclusion & accessibility practices at schools as a whole.
Irene Greaves | Houston, TX
About Irene: Irene is first and foremost a human being. Above all things, she believes in love — love as a force for positive change in the world and love as panacea for the problems that plague the world. She dreams of a world where love is planted, nurtured and grown collectively. She is originally from Venezuela but consider our planet her home. She has had the great privilege of living a wealth of international study, volunteer and work experience, and learned that love is the only thing that transcends all differences and that we can learn to love.
About Their Idea: Behind every confident individual, every act of kindness, every healthy relationship, and every thriving community is love. Lovescaping is a program that teaches the skills to cultivate self-love and love for others.
Sarah Craig | Richmond, VA
About Sarah: Sarah has spent the last 20 years seeking both relationships across differences of race and class and methods by which America, and particularly Richmond, VA, might create racial equity. This quest has involved living in neighborhoods with those disinherited by race and poverty and leading fundraising and program design for youth development organizations. Professional positions have included Chief Development & Impact Officer (Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Richmond), Director of Development (YMCA of Greater Richmond). She holds a BS (William & Mary), MA (Regent College, Vancouver BC), and MSx (Stanford Graduate School of Business).
About Their Idea: Journey Learning Labs promotes racial equity in Richmond, VA through non-conventional learning experiences for diverse groups of youth and adults alongside an equity by design practice to reimagine public education and informal learning systems.
Anna Gabriella Casalme & Claudia Pacheco | Los Angeles, CA
About Anna : Anna is dedicated to creating a genuinely youth-driven civic engagement experience. She brings over 5 years of experience at the intersection of child health and well-being, design thinking, and technology. She completed her MSc in Childhood Studies from the University of Edinburgh, where she was a Rotary Maternal and Child Health Scholar and a Saltire Scholar. She received her B.A. in Human Biology from Stanford University.
About Claudia: Claudia holds a B.A. in Environmental Science from UC Berkeley, where she explored how both the physical and social environment affect health outcomes. For the past 7 years, she has worked in building community resilience to tackle health disparities and in the last 3 years has focused on youth engagement and empowerment. Claudia is excited to continue to create opportunities for youth to be aware of underlying issues in their own communities, think critically about root causes and recognize their own role in challenging them. She is currently pursuing her Masters in Public Health at the California State University Fullerton.
About Their Idea: What sets the March For Our Lives founders from the 187,000 students affected by school gun violence since Columbine? Survivor Emma Gonzalez suggests one factor: civic education. Novelly is an ed-tech non-profit reimagining civic education by using fiction to empower youth to discuss and take action on issues affecting them.
Jonathan Santos Silva | Rapid City, SD
About Jonathan: Jonathan Santos Silva is the Founder of the Liber Institute, an organization focused on developing the leadership capacity of Indigenous students, families, and educators to transform their schools and the communities that surround them. Prior to this, Jonathan served as a school founder, instructional coach, education consultant, and on-the-ground support to South Dakota’s Native American Achievement Schools. His education career began at Little Wound School on the Pine Ridge Reservation, where he taught secondary math and called play-by-play for Mustang Athletics. He was a 2017–2018 School Systems Leaders Fellow and 2019 TNTP Bridge Fellow.
About Their Idea: Liber Institute — Indigenous families and students know what they need from schools, but they are rarely asked. Our liberatory design lab will support students and families in developing promising initiatives and ventures for school community transformation.
Genevieve Backer & Colby Heckendon | St. Louis, MO
About Genevieve: Genevieve began her career in education as a TFA corps member in New Orleans. She taught 5th grade at a traditional public school for 3 years and was ranked in the top 1% most effective teachers, determined by the Louisiana Department of Education Compass Final Evaluation. Backer was a founding lead teacher at KIPP East in New Orleans and founding middle school teacher at LPA in St. Louis. She worked as the Director of Operations at The Opportunity Trust and now is a Principal in Residence at City Garden Montessori while she works to launch Atlas in 2021.
About Colby: Colby was the principal of Patrick Henry in St. Louis for 5 years. When Colby was promoted to principal, Henry scored in the bottom 5% of all schools in the state. By taking a “whole-child” approach, Colby and his team exceeded the goals set by DESE in all core subject areas by more than 20 points. Attendance increased by nearly 10%, enrollment grew by 18% and suspensions were essentially eliminated. Colby’s teacher retention rate is one of the highest in SLPS at 93%. Colby has a B.A. in Education from University of Missouri and Master’s in Educational Leadership and Administration.
About Their Idea: Atlas Public Schools is launching as a diverse-by-design elementary charter school applying to open a K-5 LEA in fall of 2021 in the heart of St. Louis’ Central Corridor.
Darius Nabors | St. Joseph, Missouri
About Darius: Darius graduated from the University of Virginia and was a 2007 Teach for America corps member in South Dakota. After teaching, he took a trip to visit all 59 US National Parks. Currently, he uses 360 photos of National Parks to take students across the country on virtual tours of National Parks.
About Their Idea: 59in59 uses 360 photography/videography to provide immersive educational experiences using virtual reality viewers. Many teachers cannot take their class on a field trip to visit the Grand Canyon to discuss geology. We bring the Grand Canyon to the classroom with high quality standards aligned content.
Robert Hendricks | Boston, MA
About Robert: Robert was part of the 2%. As a Black male educator, he’s experienced the struggles and beauties of having a unique perspective on education.When he decided to study Math and Social Studies Education, he didn’t realize how much the two subjects would complement each other. his Math brain allows him to solve problems reasonably and logically. His Social Studies brain enables him to make connections across space and time. In practice, he’s able to see the institutional issues in educational (in)equity over time, especially as it pertains to boys of color, and produce replicable, sustainable, and multifaceted solutions.
About Their Idea: The He is Me Institute hosts STEAM-centered summer programs for boys of color. We recruit Black male college students from diverse backgrounds to teach and mentor the boys, while exploring their own identities and their individual and collective relationship with education and schooling.
John Spencer | Philadelphia, PA
About John: John W. Spencer is a lifelong Philadelphian who believes that businesses have the responsibility to positively impact people, planet and profit. With that in mind, he formed TEACH IT Labs, Inc. [TEACH IT]. TEACH IT’s mission is to provide information technology that imparts skill and provides knowledge for social change and the advancement of humanity. John holds a Doctorate in Educational and Organizational Leadership from the University of Pennsylvania, along with Master’s Degrees from Lehigh University and Drexel University and a Bachelor of Science Degree in Biology from Morgan State University.
About Their Idea: Seek.Find.Learn. is an ed-tech tool for teachers and parents to develop engaging project-based learning activities with students producing multimedia deliverables that showcase their creativity.
Ki’Amber Thompson | San Antonio, TX
About Ki’Amber: Ki’Amber grew up in communities that were over-policed, over-incarcerated, and over-polluted. She found healing from those experiences in the outdoors. She graduated from Pomona College where she wrote her thesis, “Prisons, Policing, and Pollution: Toward an Abolition Framework within Environmental Justice.” She activated the ideas in her thesis by founding Charles Roundtree Bloom Project, an outdoor healing justice program for youth of incarcerated parents. At the Ocean Conservancy, Ki’Amber built community partnerships and contributed community-based storytelling to Ocean Conservancy’s blog. Before that she led a pilot youth water testing and education program in Flint with Freshwater Future.
About Their Idea: Charles Roundtree Bloom Project is an outdoor healing justice program for youth of incarcerated parents in San Antonio, Texas. We provide healing-centered outdoor experiences and culturally relevant environmental education the help these youth envision new possibilities for their lives, for their communities, and for our world.