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A Message from Our Executive Director

Dear friends,

This year has taken a brutal toll on our students and families. Since the start of the pandemic, over 1,200 DC residents have lost their lives as a result of the virus, and close to 1 in 7 have tested positive for COVID-19. As we continue to grieve the loss of normalcy on so many levels, our country is battling a mental health crisis—with our most marginalized communities bearing the brunt of the trauma and fatigue. Although the majority of DC students have fallen behind academically this past year, remote learning exacerbated the inequities that have long been present in our public school system, resulting in widening opportunity gaps between at-risk students and their more affluent peers.

And yet, despite this discouraging reality, I am entering this new year with tremendous hope and optimism. We are never going to go back to the “status quo” of school—and that is a good thing. The status quo was not preparing students to thrive in the 21st century. The status quo was failing to unlock the full potential of our Black and Latinx students. The status quo was equating socioeconomic status with academic potential. We can do better than the status quo.

This year, we have seen an unprecedented number of DC education leaders sign up to build the public education system of the future. We have served our largest cohort to date—close to 300 teachers, administrators, and community leaders who are leading equitable innovation efforts in their classrooms, schools, and neighborhoods. They are committed to building new school models, new programs, and new organizations right here in DC. And we are committed to being their partners in this journey.

In the Impact Report shared here, you will read about first-time innovators who are learning the foundations of equitable design and co-designing solutions in the communities they serve. You’ll meet late-stage entrepreneurs who are preparing to launch their ventures and scale their impact. And, finally, you’ll learn about our citywide initiatives—CityTutor DC, a coalition-driven effort to expand access to high-impact tutoring to 10,000 students, and CityWorks DC, a nonprofit venture revolutionizing the relationship between K12, higher education, and employment opportunities for local youth. After reading their stories, we think you, too, will share our optimism about the future of DC schools.

Thank you for your support and partnership as we build the “status quo” our students deserve.

With gratitude,

Rachel Evans
Executive Director
January 2022