Jessica Brown

Business Innovation Factory Launches Teachers for Equity Fellowship

For Immediate Release
Initiative aims to increase teacher effectiveness in addressing issues of racial equity.
Providence, RI. February 15, 2017 — The Business Innovation Factory (BIF) has launched the Teachers For Equity (T4E) Fellowship and selected a cohort of 20 teachers to participate in timely work to support the spread of equitable practices within schools. With support of a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, teachers from Palm Beach, Boston, New York City, Nashville, and Chattanooga will participate in a year-long fellowship giving them tools, resources, and support to create and lead local communities of practice with their colleagues. These communities will be focused on advancing teacher practice — particularly as it relates to issues of equity and closing opportunity and achievement gaps.

As a real world lab for the research and development of new education models, the BIF Student Experience Lab is thrilled to take on this project since it focuses on teachers as designers and innovators who play a central role in bringing about systems change within education. Furthermore, BIF is pleased to partner with the Pacific Educational Group (PEG) to co-create a curriculum for the teachers’ experience. “We’re excited to work with Pacific Educational Group and educators around the country to develop a teacher-driven model that plays a central role in eliminating the extent to which race and socioeconomic status can be seen as predictors of student success,” says Sam Seidel, the Director of BIF’s Student Experience Lab.

PEG has 25 years of experience facilitating courageous conversations around race and equity. Regarding the partnership between PEG and BIF, “PEG applauds BIF as it seeks to move toward intentionally addressing racialized educational disparities by ensuring that teachers are prepared to serve students with a diversity of strengths and needs,” says Courtland Butts, the Equity Program Manager at PEG. “We are eager to partner with an organization such as BIF that is dedicated to the hope and transformation in consciousness that is required to secure the future of our children.”

PEG’s expertise in equity and coaching leaders, paired with BIF’s expertise in human-centered design and model testing, creates a unique opportunity for participants in the fellowship.

With an overwhelming amount of interest and responses across the four states from which BIF recruited, teachers reaffirmed a desire to improve their effectiveness, particularly in tackling education disparities among various racial and ethnic groups. These 20 teachers have recognized shifting demographics of students, lack of representation in faculty, and a need for open discussions around race. They share the drive to create the best learning experiences for their students and a passion for advancing their profession.

To strengthen the impact of this program and align it with existing diversity and equity initiatives, BIF is collaborating with school and district leaders who are strong advocates for changing the status quo.

“Having the opportunity for our best teachers in the district to receive top-notch equity training and then be able to facilitate in a community of practice with fellow teachers in the school or feeder pattern is the best way to begin having the tough conversations that need to take place in our schools with regards to the massive opportunity gaps between our students of color and our white students,” says Dr. Eddie Ruiz, School District of Palm Beach County’s Assistant Superintendent of Student Services, Equity & Access. “Our teachers need to talk through scenarios, be given strategies, tools, and encouragement from their colleagues and this opportunity affords them the chance.” 

BIF is welcoming these 20 educators to the T4E Fellowship:

Rayhan Ahmed, The Expeditionary Learning School for Community Leaders High School

Ulana Ainsworth, Dudley Street Neighborhood Charter School

Lhisa Almashy, Park Vista Community High School

May Beasley, Madison Middle Prep

Naadu Blankson Seck, Brooklyn Frontiers High School

Kenneth Collins, Chattanooga High School, Center for Creative Arts

Olive A. Cooper, Boca Raton Community Middle School

Edith Garcia, Poinciana Elementary STEM

Chris George, Cane Ridge High School

Derrick Gilbert, Royal Palm Beach Community High School

Erica Hayes-Schultz, John Overton High School

Khessia Jean-Baptiste, Elbridge Gale Elementary

Adam Kinory, School of the Future

Zoe Masters, Community Charter School of Cambridge

Lauren Moffett, J.H.S. 194 William Carr School

Ilona Nanay, Mott Hall V

Tazeen Rashid, Suncoast Community High School

Amy Ryan, Amqui Elementary School

Natalie Sessoms, Norman Binkley Elementary School

Alexis Valentin, J.C. Mitchell Elementary School

BIF and PEG are excited to support these fellows as they make positive, measurable changes for their students, schools, and communities. The fellowship runs from February to December 2017, and teachers will engage in learning activities through in-person retreats, a virtual learning community, coaching sessions, and on-the-ground visits by BIF and PEG. For more information about the T4E Fellowship and to keep up to date on our progress, visit teachers4equity.com and follow us on Twitter @BIFsxl or #teach4equity. 

About the Business Innovation Factory

At the Business Innovation Factory (BIF), we have one goal in mind: transformation. We believe the way to get there is by enabling leaders to design and test new business models in areas of high social impact, including healthcare, education, government, and entrepreneurship. Central to this work is spending a lot of time with the real people within these systems so that we can understand their needs, interests, problems, and aspirations, and then, work together to design new models to better serve them. For more, visit www.businessinnovationfactory.com. 

About Pacific Educational Group

Pacific Educational Group is committed to achieving racial equity in education. We engage in sustained partnerships with educational organizations to transform beliefs, behaviors, and results so people of all races can achieve at their highest levels and live their most empowered and powerful lives. For more information, visit https://courageousconversation.com/.

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