Welcoming Our New Community Advisors — 2021

 
Nellie Mae Ed. Fdn.
Aug 25 · 4 min read

In 2019, we launched our first Community Advisory Group — a group of individuals with deep relationships and networks in the communities they serve — to provide perspective and insight on our grantmaking strategy and implementation. Since that time, our advisors have served as invaluable partners in the creation and implementation of our grantmaking strategy focused on advancing racial equity in public education. Each step of the way, they have offered critical insight, feedback, and perspective on how to show up as engaged and supportive funders in this space.

This summer, we are pleased to welcome six new youth advisors to the Community Advisory Group, and know that they will continue to play a key role in moving our work ahead:

Micaela (Mica) Arenas (she/her/hers): Mica is a sophomore at Manchester High School in Connecticut and, in addition to serving on the Nellie Mae Community Advisory Group, is a member of her district’s Youth Equity Squad. Mica is an aspiring author who enjoys reading, playing soccer, watching old musicals, and spending time with her parents and older brother. She believes in the power of words to change the world.

Davyon Clark (he/him/his): Dayvon is a young Black youth leader who is a sophomore at Manchester High School in Connecticut. After high school, he plans on pursuing his next steps in college and is hoping to play sports and major in some type of business management. In his free time, you can find him on the football field or the basketball court! His favorite class in school is math, and has experience participating in his school’s Youth Equity Squad — a safe space for talking and building relationships with others.

Gabrielle Oulette (she/her/hers): A junior at Blackstone Academy Charter School, and a youth leader at the Alliance of Rhode Island Southeast Asians for Education (ARISE) in Providence, Rhode Island, Gabrielle is an active member of her community and continues to seek change within herself and the world around her. She calls Pawtucket home and loves nature, animals, food, laughing, and being around loved ones.

Dara Song (she/her/hers): An incoming senior at Manchester High School in Connecticut, Dara is involved in her school’s student leadership body, tennis and volleyball teams, mental health club, and town youth commission. Dara is hoping to attend a four-year college after graduation.

 

Naomi Felix Monanci (she/her/hers): Naomi is a Dominican-American youth leader at the Alliance of Rhode Island Southeast Asians for Education (ARISE) in Providence, Rhode Island. Naomi attends Highlander Charter School, and in her free time you can find her singing at her church and doing pantomime! She is passionate about combatting social injustices happening in the world and aspires to be an engineer.

Khaiya Proeung (she/her/hers): Khaiya Proeung isa Khmer-American student attending Cranston High School East in Rhode Island. Khaiya is a youth leader with the Alliance of Southeast Asians for Education (ARISE) and has been surrounded by activism throughout her life. Khaiya continues to strive towards her passion for activism in her daily life and has a passion for cosmetology and skin care!

Announcing our 2021 Speakers Bureau

 
Nellie Mae Ed. Fdn.
Aug 9 · 3 min read
For the past several years, Nellie Mae Education Foundation has welcomed a new cohort of education leaders into our Speakers Bureau. After a year and a half characterized by the twin pandemics of COVID-19 and systemic racism, and where our schools were forced to rethink where, when, and how learning happens, we are thrilled to welcome our newest cohort of Nellie Mae Education Foundation Speakers Bureau members committed to advancing racial equity in our public education system.

This year’s cohort brings together a group of experts from across the region who are united in their quest to create an equitable education system for all. Education has been thrust into the political spotlight as opponents of equity are working overtime to hinder the ability of our nation’s children to learn the truth about the nation’s founding, as well as ask the critical questions about how we can close the opportunity gaps that have been created and reinforced over the decades.

Our new cohort includes administrators, non-profit leaders, students, teachers, family advocates and more. These leaders recognize that schools can’t begin to educate our youth without creating environments where students feel seen, known, and empowered. We have long realized that schools are about much more than teaching or leading specific subject matters or helping students perform proficiently on tests. They are also about creating the global citizens of tomorrow and shaping a more just and equitable future for all of us

We couldn’t be more excited about this new cohort and the passion, expertise, and fortitude they will bring to the education ecosystem over the course of their time with us. Please see the list of our new Speakers Bureau members below:

Book a speaker for an upcoming event by visiting our Speakers Bureau site!

In Memoriam: Dudley Williams

Nellie Mae Ed. Fdn.

May 24 · 1 min read
Dudley Williams at the Foundation’s Lawrence W. O’Toole Awards Ceremony in 2012

Our hearts are heavy as we mourn the passing of Dudley Williams, former Board Chair of the Nellie Mae Education Foundation. In his 12 years of service at the organization, Dudley was instrumental in shaping the foundation’s direction in rethinking how, when, and where learning happened. He dedicated his life to the service of others, especially in the Stamford, Connecticut community and public school system. In addition to the long list of his accomplishments and public service, Dudley’s graciousness, intelligence, and care was visible in everything he did. We are all better for having known him and are holding his family in our hearts.

The Nellie Mae Education Foundation Appoints Dr. Gislaine N. Ngounou, Ed. L.D., as Interim President and CEO

Dr. Ngounou to bring nearly two decades of experience in the education and nonprofit space to the role

Nellie Mae Ed. Fdn.
May 20 · 4 min read

Quincy, MA — May 20, 2021: The Nellie Mae Education Foundation Board of Directors, in consultation with outgoing President and CEO Nick Donohue, has appointed Dr. Gislaine N. Ngounou, Ed. L.D., as Interim President and CEO, effective June 1, 2021. The organization is thrilled to name Dr. Ngounou to this elevated leadership role, and is confident that she will continue to build on the solid foundation that she, along with Foundation colleagues, advisors, and grantees, has set. The Nellie Mae Education Foundation expects Dr. Ngounou to remain in the interim role for 6–12 months as they pause their external search while taking time to determine next steps around decisions of future, permanent leadership of the organization.

I feel confident that I am well-equipped to lead and support the organization through this transition. I look forward to continuing to work in partnership with our Board, Nellie Mae colleagues, community advisors, and grantee partners to continue to move the Foundation’s work forward, so that we may use our power and privilege as an organization to uproot systemic racism. — Dr. Ngounou,Vice President, Strategy and Programs, Nellie Mae Education Foundation

When Dr. Ngounou takes on the position of Interim President and CEO on June 1, she will bring nearly two decades of experience working across the education sector, including work with nonprofits, individual schools, and school districts. Most recently, she served as the Foundation’s Vice President of Strategy and Programs, where she was responsible for successfully implementing the organization’s new grantmaking strategy focused on advancing racial equity in public education. Before coming to the Foundation, Dr. Ngounou served as the Chief Program Officer for Arlington, Virginia-based Phi Delta Kappa International, a professional organization for educators. In this role, she designed and led programs that supported school district leaders, provided leadership coaching surrounding issues of equity and social justice, and created and facilitated an ongoing community that allowed system-level leaders in districts from across the country to learn from one another. Prior to her work at Phi Delta Kappa, Dr. Ngounou worked for school districts including Hartford Public Schools, Montgomery County Public Schools, and the Kansas City Missouri School District. She is passionate about social justice, racial equity, adult learning, youth and community empowerment, systems change, and increasing educational access and opportunities for all students to thrive.

I speak on behalf of the entire Nellie Mae Board of Directors when I say that we are more than excited to have Gislaine in the Interim President and CEO role. — Greg Gunn, Chair, Nellie Mae Education Foundation Board of Directors

“I am excited and thankful for this opportunity, and feel confident that I am well-equipped and positioned to lead and support the organization through this transition,” said Dr. Ngounou. “I look forward to continuing to work in partnership with our Board, Nellie Mae colleagues, community advisors, and grantee partners to continue to move the Foundation’s work forward, so that we may use our power and privilege as an organization to uproot systemic racism — both within philanthropy and our public education system. I hope we can continue to advance a philanthropic practice that centers the voices of those most impacted by injustices.”

“I speak on behalf of the entire Nellie Mae Board of Directors when I say that we are more than excited to have Gislaine in the Interim President and CEO role,” said Greg Gunn, Chair of the Nellie Mae Education Foundation Board of Directors. “We are confident that this move will allow her to continue to move the organization forward in advancing a vision where all young people have access to an excellent and equitable public education that prepares them to succeed and thrive in community. Additionally, this move will allow the organization to continue implementing its current grantmaking strategy uninterrupted.”

Outgoing President and CEO Nick Donohue plans to transition out of the organization effective May 31, 2021, after over 14 years at the organization. The Foundation remains ever grateful for Nick’s exemplary leadership over the years. “Nick’s guidance and expertise has pushed us to more deeply engage in racial equity work as a foundation, which in turn has made us a much more responsive grantmaker,” said Greg Gunn. “He has been responsible for shepherding in student-centered approaches to learning as a national education reform strategy, and really helping to shift the narrative around how people think about the ways schools should be organized to best serve young people. We know Nick’s legacy will be carried out as we continue our work, and we wish him the best in his future endeavors.”

Gislaine brings strategic vision, deep knowledge around education, extensive experience with racial equity and change management, that will bring so much to advancing the organization’s vision. It is because of her leadership and execution that the Foundation has been able to implement our new grantmaking strategy with thoughtfulness, humility, and care. — Nick Donohue, Outgoing Nellie Mae Education Foundation President and CEO

“While I will miss working closely with Nellie Mae colleagues, partners, and grantees, I couldn’t be more thrilled for Gislaine and the organization about this decision,” said Nick Donohue. “Gislaine brings strategic vision, deep knowledge around education, extensive experience with racial equity and change management, and an inspiring leadership style that will bring so much to advancing the organization’s vision. It is because of her leadership and execution that the Foundation has been able to implement our new grantmaking strategy with thoughtfulness, humility, and care. It has been the privilege and honor of my lifetime to work at the Nellie Mae Education Foundation, and I look forward to watching how the organization grows even more under her full leadership.”

Cross-Racial Healing and Solidarity in a White Supremacist World

Written by Alexis Harewood and Ellen Wang

Central to the Nellie Mae Education Foundation’s focus of advancing racial equity in public education is our commitment to ensuring all young people and families feel safe in schools and communities across New England as school buildings continue to reopen. When young people experience belonging and emotional safety by feeling that their perspectives, needs and full identities are seen and embraced, they can focus on learning and thrive academically (Darling-Hammond, 2017).

Since the Foundation released the Racism is a Virus, Too Rapid Response Fund in March of 2020, over 500,000 people in the United States have died from COVID-19. The virus has disproportionately impacted the Black, Indigenous, Latinx, and Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities. While Asian American racism did not start with COVID-19, the spread of the virus has prompted the rise of anti-Asian racism and xenophobia through the U.S., “taking the forms of vandalism, student bullying, online hate speech, and more recently, violent attacks against elders. This type of ‘othering’ divides communities by dehumanizing groups of people when anxiety is manipulated and misdirected to place blame in the time of crisis” (Smithsonian APA Center).

Photo by Guillaume Issaly on Unsplash

AAPI communities have a deep-rooted history of being in solidarity with other communities of color — something that is often left unspoken. There is a vast history of AAPI communities supporting Black communities in the United States including during the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s. Activists like Yuri Kochiyama, Grace Lee Boggs, Richard Aoki, and Larry Itliong were constant advocates for Black and Brown liberation and worked closely alongside Black and Brown people.

After the murders of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd by police officers in 2020, AAPI communities across the world showed up in solidarity with Black communities to demand policy change. ASIANS 4 BLACK LIVES signs, actions, and sentiments continue to be in profound allyship and solidarity with Black people.

Two of our program officers leading this work reflect on what cross-racial solidarity means to them, as women of color.

Reflections from Alexis Harewood, program officer

Last year brought me countless moments of sadness and grief after the murders of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and so many others. Yet there were innumerable acts of solidarity that filled me with hope. As a Black woman, it meant a lot to see and hear that other non-Black people of color recognized that the ‘issue’ being fought wasn’t Black people standing against the police, but the suppressed standing up and fighting against white supremacy in all of its many forms. Moreover, it was liberating to see people working to expose how anti-Blackness shows up in their racial groups and fighting racism with solidarity as one of my favorite activists, Fred Hampton, did.

White supremacy has deeply impacted communities of color. White supremacy has created competition and harm within racial groups. But harm means there is also opportunity for healing.

I recognize that while Black communities grieved these murders, AAPI communities around the world were also grieving and fearing for the physical safety and emotional well-being of themselves and their elders. They fought a silent war that had yet to be fully detailed or reported by the mainstream media. Yet, they showed up and held Black people closely and remained in solidarity.

Reflections from Ellen Wang, senior program officer

As an East Asian woman working in philanthropy, I am incredibly grateful to be doing this work alongside my colleagues in the philanthropic sector. I am especially moved to do this work in solidarity with my colleague and dear friend, Alexis Harewood. Doing this work alongside a brilliant Black woman and my other colleagues at Nellie Mae, has been a tangible way for me to heal and work through my own anger and grief.

Healing can only begin to happen when we stop long enough to listen deeply to each other, acknowledge the harms we have caused one another, and understand that it is white supremacy that has pitted us against each other and that of which must be dismantled.

I want to be clear that while AAPIs are being targeted now during the pandemic, anti-Asian racism and violence, Sinophobia, and xenophobia are nothing new. They are interwoven into the fabric of this country. Healing can only begin to happen when we stop long enough to listen deeply to each other, acknowledge the harms we have caused one another, and understand that it is white supremacy that has pitted us against each other and that of which must be dismantled.

My hope is that this funding opportunity will continue to support those who have been doing the work of promoting cross-community solidarity, and serve as a stepping point for those we are ready to embark on the hard work of building deep, sustained bridges. I fundamentally believe that our liberation is bound together and showing up for one another cannot be transactional, but a life-long commitment.

*The first part of this blog post is an excerpt from Cross-Racial Healing and Solidarity in a White Supremacist World Rapid Response Grant


Cross-Racial Healing and Solidarity in a White Supremacist World was originally published in Nellie Mae Education Foundation on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

The Nellie Mae Education Foundation Welcomes United We Dream Co-Founder Cristina Jiménez Moreta to…

The Nellie Mae Education Foundation Welcomes United We Dream Co-Founder Cristina Jiménez Moreta to Board of Directors

Today, we are thrilled to announce the appointment of Cristina Jiménez Moreta, co-founder and former executive director of United We Dream, the country’s largest immigrant-youth-led network, to the Nellie Mae Education Foundation Board of Directors. As a new member of the board, Cristina’s leadership and extensive experience in community organizing will aid the Foundation in advancing racial equity in public education.

“We are honored to welcome her to our Board of Directors as we continue to fight for racial equity and equal access to excellent public education for all students in New England.” — Nick Donohue

“Cristina has been a powerful force in the immigrant justice movement, empowering and organizing young people and communities of color across the country for over a decade,” Nick Donohue, President and CEO of Nellie Mae said. “We are honored to welcome her to our Board of Directors as we continue to fight for racial equity and equal access to excellent public education for all students in New England.”

“The Nellie Mae Board of Directors is thrilled to have Cristina joining us,” said Greg Gunn, chair of the Nellie Mae Board. “Cristina brings unmatched experience in movement and coalition building, community organizing, and public policy that will support the foundation in moving its agenda forward.”

Cristina is a nationally recognized organizer and movement strategist who has been instrumental in building a sustained and influential youth-led immigrant movement. In recognition of her work as a social justice organizer, Cristina received a 2017 MacArthur Fellowship, the Four Freedoms Award, and a spot on the 2018 TIME 100 List. She has been celebrated in various lists including “Forbes 30 under 30 in Law and Policy” and the Chronicle of Philanthropy’s “40 under 40 Young Leaders Who are Solving Problems of Today and Tomorrow.”

“In communities across New England, courageous young people are driving the change they want to see. I am thrilled to support them and continue the fight for a more just future for all young people with the Nellie Mae Education Foundation.” — Cristina Jiménez Moreta

“Young people of color are facing unprecedented challenges, and the work of advancing racial equity in public education has never been more critical,” said Cristina Jiménez Moreta. “In communities across New England, courageous young people are driving the change they want to see. I am thrilled to support them and continue the fight for a more just future for all young people with the Nellie Mae Education Foundation.”

Cristina co-founded United We Dream (UWD), the largest immigrant youth-led organization in the country. Under Cristina’s leadership as Executive Director, UWD has grown into a powerful network of nearly one million members and has played a pivotal role in shifting the policy conversation and narrative about immigrants and immigration, ultimately influencing policy. Cristina was instrumental in UWD’s successful campaign for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. She migrated to the U.S from Ecuador with her family at the age of 13, growing up undocumented.

In recognition of her work as a social justice organizer, Cristina received a 2017 MacArthur Fellowship, the Four Freedoms Award, and a spot on the 2018 TIME 100 List. Cristina has appeared in hundreds of national and local media outlets including USA Today, CNN, MSNBC, HBO, The New York Times, the LA Times, ABC, NPR, The Huffington Post, Univision, Telemundo, and La Opinion. Her writing has been published in the New York Times, CNN, USA Today, Huffington Post, and El Diario.

Cristina proudly serves on the Board of Directors of the National Committee for Responsible Philanthropy (NCRP), Hazen Foundation, and Make the Road Action Fund. Cristina also co-founded the New York State Youth Leadership Council, the Dream Mentorship Program at Queens College, was an immigration policy analyst for the Drum Major Institute for Public Policy and an immigrant rights organizer at Make the Road New York.

Cristina holds a Master’s degree in Public Administration & Public Policy from the School of Public of Affairs at Baruch College, CUNY and graduated Cum Laude with a B.A. in Political Science and Business from Queens College, CUNY. She was awarded an Honorary Doctorate Degree in Letters & Humanities by Wesleyan University.


The Nellie Mae Education Foundation Welcomes United We Dream Co-Founder Cristina Jiménez Moreta to… was originally published in Nellie Mae Education Foundation on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Nick Donohue Announces Plans to Step Down as President & CEO of the Nellie Mae Education Foundation

Will support search for new leader after more than a decade of leadership

QUINCY, MA — February 5, 2021 — The Nellie Mae Education Foundation today announced that Nick Donohue will be stepping down as the organization’s President and CEO at the end of 2021 after 14 years of leadership at the organization. During his time at the Foundation, Nick was responsible for shepherding in student-centered approaches to learning as a national education reform strategy and shifting the organization to its current grantmaking strategy focused on advancing racial equity in public education.

Nick has worked throughout his career to expand access to high quality, innovative learning opportunities for students. His leadership in education reform has challenged traditional notions of schooling to respond to our changing world and the systemic inequities inherent in our systems of education, with the goal of preparing learners to contribute to a thriving democracy. Nick’s leadership helped build a community of districts committed to rethinking how they supported students based on individual need, incorporating student voice into the learning process, expanding opportunities for learning outside of the classroom, and tailoring learning to each young person.

Donohue will continue to serve in an active role as the Foundation’s leader through the end of the calendar year, while the Board of Directors — chaired by Greg Gunn — begins a search in the coming weeks for Donohue’s successor.

“The past 14 years at Nellie Mae have been tremendously rewarding for me, both personally and professionally. It has been the honor of my career to work at a Foundation so fiercely committed to rethinking what public education looks like to meet the needs of all learners, especially through the lens of racial equity,” said Donohue. “I look forward to leading the organization during this important transition and through the end of the year. Living into the values we have come to embrace as an organization — and that guide my own actions so much today — means it is time for me to help the Foundation find a new leader whose experience and expertise will support the organization’s new work even more fully moving forward.”

“During his time at Nellie Mae, Nick has led the organization through growth and challenges, always seeking to deepen the positive impact the organization made on young people in the region,” said Nellie Mae Education Foundation Board Chair Greg Gunn. “Several years ago, we embarked on a journey to lean into the racial equity barriers in our field. While Nick is the first to say his journey is ongoing, it was his leadership — and his commitment to Board and staff working together — which in turn helped us be more responsive to communities during the challenges of this past year. We wouldn’t be on this path today without Nick’s values-driven, reflective leadership. I look forward to his support in our search for his successor, a process that is grounded in our racial equity principles, inclusive of the voices of staff, grantees, and community partners.”

Image for post
Nick Donohue with Nellie Mae staff and community advisors in 2019

The transition comes at a time when the Foundation has entered the second year of implementation of its grantmaking strategy focused on advancing racial equity in public education, supporting efforts to advance excellent, student-centered public education for all New England youth. In addition, just last year, Donohue led an effort to distribute an additional $20M in grantmaking towards combatting COVID-19 and anti-Black racism in the New England region and nationally, acknowledging that needs exacerbated by the dual pandemics have an impact on youth educational experiences and outcomes, especially in communities of color.

“I am proud of what Nellie Mae has contributed in the New England region — and nationally — to ensure that all young people have access to an excellent and equitable public education. I am proud of our commitment to do our part in the work of dismantling structural racism, and am grateful to those who have helped me learn and ‘unlearn’ so much. I am thankful for the relationships I have built over my tenure here with Board, staff, grantees, and external partners and am heartened by the good work that will continue beyond my time here,” said Donohue.

Prior to joining the Foundation, Nick served as the New Hampshire State Commissioner of Education where he led systemic reform efforts to innovative teaching and learning. Additionally, he oversaw the implementation of the Rhode Island Commissioner of Education’s order to reconstitute Hope High School in Providence. During his time at Nellie Mae, Nick has also served in a number of leadership roles, including as Chair of the Board of Directors of the Aurora Institute (formerly iNACOL), and previous board affiliations including serving as Vice-Chair of the board of Grantmakers for Education, and serving as a trustee for both the University System of New Hampshire and Community Technical College System.

Nick and his family are looking forward to the next chapter of his life both professionally and personally.

*Read Nick’s letter announcing his plans to step down here


Nick Donohue Announces Plans to Step Down as President & CEO of the Nellie Mae Education Foundation was originally published in Nellie Mae Education Foundation on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Continuing the fight against COVID-19 and systemic racism

In October, we announced $20 million in funds on top of our planned grantmaking for this year to support work addressing anti-Black racism and COVID relief — especially as both relate to our public education system. Today we are pleased to share that another set of organizations are receiving grants as part of that allocation.

Because of the collective effort required to fight COVID-19 and systemic racism, this year we have intentionally expanded and increased our support for organizations and individuals leading this work through a broad array of investments. The grant recipients we are announcing today represent multiple levels of our educational ecosystem, serving students, families, educators and community members both throughout New England and nationally. This includes community and youth-serving organizations directly supporting young people and families with mental health, mentoring and social and emotional learning; educator-serving organizations prioritizing virtual learning, culturally responsive practice, and wellbeing for adults (especially educators of color); and advocacy, policy and funder partners and intermediaries working closely with communities of color, and also doing antiracist work in white rural and suburban communities.

We are proud to stand behind and with such incredible leaders who are working to achieve a more just education system that lives up to its promise for all young people. We look forward to partnering with these organizations, and further exploring opportunities that continue our commitment to our mission and values: championing efforts that prioritize community goals that challenge racial inequities and advance excellent, student-centered education for all New England youth.

This year we have seen the pain and hardship inflicted by dual pandemics of systemic racism and COVID-19. But we can also find inspiration and motivation from the communities driving us toward a better future as they address these issues — particularly young people who are mobilizing calls for justice here in New England and beyond.

You can read more about these organizations, and the grants they will receive to support their important work, below.

Community and Youth-Serving Organizations

  • North American Indian Center of Boston: ($100,000): To support their mission to empower the Native American community and improve the quality of life of Indigenous peoples
  • IllumiNative: ($90,000): To support their work to challenge negative narratives and ensure accurate and authentic portrayals of Native communities are present in pop culture and media
  • Massachusetts Center for Native American Awareness: ($50,000): To support their mission to assist Native American residents with basic needs and educational expenses; provide opportunities for cultural and spiritual enrichment; advance public knowledge and understanding; and work toward racial equality by addressing inequities across the Commonwealth
  • Herring Pond Wampanoag Tribe: ($100,000): To support their mission to preserve, promote, and protect the cultural, spiritual and economic well-being of tribal members, educate youth and promote awareness among the public about their tribal history and rights
  • National Indian Education Association: ($50,000): To support their work to advance culture-based educational opportunities for American Indians, Alaska Natives and Native Hawaiians
  • UMass Boston Institute for New England Native American Studies: ($50,000): To support their work in response to the changing priorities of tribal communities as well as their programming and outreach efforts
  • Wabanaki Youth in Science: ($30,000): A program that provides Native youth an opportunity to understand their cultural heritage first-hand and learn ways to manage lands with a broader and more holistic understanding of environmental stewardship
  • Wabanaki Public Health: ($30,000): Wabanaki Public Health is dedicated to improving the health and wellbeing of Tribal community members through connection, prevention and collaboration
  • National CARES Mentoring Movement: ($150,000): To support local chapters in their work to heal and transform the lives of impoverished Black children by inspiring, recruiting and mobilizing masses of caring Black men and women to mentor and nourish them
  • He Is Me Institute: ($50,000): To support the Institute’s “I AM King” Mentoring program in Boston, which is designed for men of color to facilitate activities that provide opportunities for boys of color to gain the social emotional skills and language needed to manage their own lives and identities
  • Social Impact Center: ($50,000): To support the Center’s work to prevent and reduce the impact of violence by addressing immediate and basic needs such as housing, food, clothing and public safety for the disenfranchised residents of the City of Boston
  • Sisters Unchained: ($50,000): Founded in 2015, Sisters Unchained is a prison abolitionist organization in Boston dedicated to building community and power with young women affected by parental incarceration through radical education, healing, art, sisterhood and activism
  • Worcester Education Collaborative: ($30,000): The Worcester Education Collaborative is an independent advocacy and action organization that works to ensure students in Worcester’s public schools are given the opportunity to succeed at the highest possible level

Advocacy, Policy, Funder Partners, Intermediaries

  • Decolonizing Wealth Project (DWP): ($150,000): To support DWP’s grant funds for addressing issues brought on by COVID-19 and supporting Indigenous communities working for transformative social change
  • Resist Foundation: ($150,000): Resist supports people’s movements for justice and liberation and distributes resources back to communities at the forefront of change, while amplifying their stories of building a better world
  • Grantmakers for Girls of Color: ($100,000): A national funder collaborative that supports Black, Indigenous, Latinx, Asian and Pacific American girls in the United States — mobilizing philanthropic resources so Black girls and gender expansive youth of color can achieve equity and justice
  • Lawyers for Civil Rights: ($50,000): Lawyers for Civil Rights fosters equal opportunity and fights discrimination on behalf of people of color and immigrants through legal action, education, and advocacy in the Boston area
  • Drawing Democracy: ($50,000): Drawing Democracy brings together philanthropic partners to support Massachusetts grassroots leaders and organizations promoting a transparent and accountable redistricting process, while empowering communities by creating fair voting districts
  • ACLU Local Chapters: ($50,000): The ACLU works in the courts to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to all people in this country by the Constitution and laws of the United States
  • Community Change Inc.: ($100,000): CCI offers public discussions, events and workshops for antiracist learning and action
  • SURJ Education Fund: ($200,000): SURJ is a national network of groups and individuals working to undermine white supremacy and work toward racial justice
  • GBH Educational Foundation: ($50,000): To support GBH in building tools, media and research to support educators and families in antiracist, equity-enhanced teaching and learning
  • Daily Kos Education Fund [Prism]: ($50,000): Prism is a BIPOC-led non-profit news outlet that centers the people, places, and issues currently underreported by national media. They are committed to producing journalism that treats Black, Indigenous and people of color, women, the LGBTQ+ community, and other invisibilized groups as the experts on their own lived experiences

Educator-Serving Organizations

  • LearnLaunch: ($350,000): To support LearnLaunch’s work in Massachusetts to provide programs and services that are helping educators around Massachusetts build equitable remote learning opportunities
  • Highlander Institute: ($300,000): A non-profit organization based in Providence, RI that partners with communities to imagine and create more equitable, relevant and effective schools. Highlander works with schools and districts on effective change management, culturally responsive instruction, and now responses to COVID-19
  • LiberatEd: ($350,000): LiberatEd offers an antiracist approach to social and emotional learning and healing, which includes student, teacher and family and community engagement resources, as well as an educator training and coaching program
  • UnboundEd: ($350,000): UnboundEd is dedicated to empowering teachers by providing free, high-quality standards-aligned resources for the classroom, the opportunity for immersive training, and the option of support through their website offerings
  • The Teaching Lab: ($350,000): The Teaching Lab’s mission is to fundamentally shift the paradigm of teacher professional learning for educational equity. They envision a world where teachers and students thrive together in communities that enable lifelong learning and meaningful lives.
  • The Community Learning Collaborative: ($150,000): To support the Collaborative’s work in providing academic support during remote learning as well as enrichment and engagement opportunities before and after school, centered on affirming children’s culture and linguistic backgrounds

As we close out our year of grantmaking, and continue to work responsibly position resources in communities and organizations that are doing good work at the intersection of public education, fighting anti-racism and responding to the needs elevated to the pandemic, we’re also excited to support the following organizations:

Strong Women, Strong Girls: ($25,000): Strong Women, Strong Girls (SWSG) is a nonprofit organization championing the next generation of female leaders through our innovative, multi-generational mentoring programs. As we foster a strong female community, SWSG is building a brighter, broader future for all girls and women.

Cambridge Families of Color Coalition: ($30,000): The Cambridge Families of Color Coalition (CFCC) is a collective of Families and Students of Color working to uplift, empower, celebrate, and nurture our students and each other. Their work is rooted in racial, social, and economic equity. Our goal is to see Cambridge Public Schools be a place where Students of Color thrive academically, socially, emotionally, physically, and in spirit.

The Prosperity Foundation: ($150,000): The Prosperity Foundation (TPF) believes that by creating a participatory philanthropic vehicle focused on improving the lives of Connecticut’s Black communities.

Cambridge Community Foundation: ($50,000): The Cambridge Community Foundation serves as Cambridge’s local giving platform — built, funded, and guided by residents since 1916. They are a convener and catalyst for transformative change.

Boston Debate League: ($50,000): The Boston Debate League offers debate and argumentation programs for young people in Greater Boston, with a commitment to serving students of color and other students who have been denied these educational opportunities.

Maine-Wabanaki REACH: ($50,000): Wabanaki REACH is a cross-cultural collaboration that successfully supported the Maine Wabanaki-State Child Welfare Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

Latinos for Education: ($150,000): The organization’s mission is to develop, place and connect essential Latino leaders in the education sector. We are building an ecosystem of Latino advocates by infusing Latino talent into positions of influence.

Education Reimagined: ($100,000): Education Reimagined is firmly committed to the creation of a racially just and equitable world where every child is loved, honored, and supported such that their boundless potential is unleashed.

Education Funder Strategy Group: ($200,000): The Education Funder Strategy Group (EFSG) is a learning community of leading foundations focused on education policy from early childhood to college and career readiness and success.

The Welcome Project: ($100,000): The Welcome Project builds the collective power of immigrants to participate in and shape community decisions. Through programming that strengthens the capacity of immigrant youth, adults and families to advocate for themselves and influence schools, government, and other institutions.


Continuing the fight against COVID-19 and systemic racism was originally published in Nellie Mae Education Foundation on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Welcoming New Team Members to the Foundation

Over the past year, Nellie Mae has grown our work in several ways, from the implementation of our new grant strategy focused on advancing racial equity in public education, to continuing to learn how to best serve as an engaged and supportive grantmaker. We have also expanded as a staff over these past several months and are excited to welcome five new team members who together bring a vast array of knowledge and experience to our organization.

Alex Toussaint, Senior Accountant

Alex Toussaint joined the Foundation in April 2020. Prior to joining Nellie Mae, Alex worked as an independent business consultant for small businesses, nonprofits, and individuals around business strategy and personal finance. He also has experience as an elementary school educator. Alex is passionate about promoting financial literacy, as well as educational justice.

Julita Bailey-Vasco, Senior Communications Manager

Julita Bailey-Vasco joined the Foundation in October 2020. Prior to her work at Nellie Mae, Julita worked at Jobs for the Future (JFF), a national nonprofit that leads the workforce and education system in achieving economic advancement for all. Julita is committed to the work of an equitable education system in hopes of restoring a fraction of what has been stolen from Black people, Indigenous people, and other people of color.

Michael G. Williams Jr., Program Officer

Michael G. Williams Jr. joined the Foundation in October 2020. Prior to his work at Nellie Mae, Michael worked at Duet, a non-profit that partners with the University of Southern New Hampshire to help students of color enroll in and complete degree programs. Michael brings a strong dedication to community-centered service; this commitment has led him to roles in community organizing, politics, and nonprofit case management and partnership development focused on helping young people achieve their educational and career goals.

Kathiana Amazan, Program Associate

Kathiana Amazan started at Nellie Mae in November 2020. Prior to joining the Foundation, Kathiana served as the Operations Coordinator for the Letters Foundation, an organization that provided one-time humanitarian grants to individuals experiencing hardship when no other options existed. A first-generation student and Boston Public Schools graduate, Kathiana believes all students should have access to equitable public education and opportunities to realize their full potential.

Lucas Codognolla, Senior Manager of Partnerships and Advocacy

Lucas Codognolla is joining the foundation at the end of December 2020. Prior to joining Nellie Mae, Lucas served as the founding Executive Director of Connecticut Students for a Dream (C4D), a youth-led, statewide network fighting for the rights of undocumented youth and their families. A community organizer at heart, Lucas is a relationship-builder and passionate about using his positionality to leverage resources for and with communities of color.


Welcoming New Team Members to the Foundation was originally published in Nellie Mae Education Foundation on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Prioritizing Mental Wellnesss Amidst Virtual Learning

Prioritizing Mental Wellness Amidst Virtual Learning

As the two pandemics of COVID-19 and anti-Black racism rage on, young people across our region are faced with compounding burdens that are putting strains on their personal lives, well-being and educational experience.

As students ourselves, we know full well how the effects of isolation, nationwide protests around systemic racism and seeing the murders of more Black people at the hands of police, coupled with experiencing remote learning for the first time, and different family circumstances have had on our mental health.

We also recognize that remote learning is not the same experience for every student. Across our region, many students do not have reliable access to high-speed internet access, and many young people have had to take on the roles of caretaking or working to support their families, making it difficult to join remote classes or complete assignments on time.

We are proud to have collaborated with The Nellie Mae Education Foundation to design a youth-led rapid response grant fund aimed at supporting young people across the region with remote learning and mental health supports. We invite you to read the full Request for Proposals here.

Lydia Mann, Granite State Organizing Project

Mealaktey Sok, ARISE (Alliance of Rhode Island Southeast Asians for Education)

Niamiah Jefferson, ARISE (Alliance of Rhode Island Southeast Asians for Education)


Prioritizing Mental Wellnesss Amidst Virtual Learning was originally published in Nellie Mae Education Foundation on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.