The Boulder Fund

2018 Recipients

Nicole Young
Executive Director
Bard Early College Academy
New Orleans, LA
Bard College, under the leadership of Nicole Young, is working with a consortium of public charter schools in New Orleans to create a new space between high school and college that reconciles equity and excellence for young people, with limited exposure to higher education. The Bard Early College Academy (BECA) enables young people to start a full-time undergraduate curriculum after the 10th grade, immerse themselves in rigorous and rewarding liberal arts coursework led by highly qualified college faculty, and earn a transferable Bard College Associate in Arts degree, tuition-free. Importantly, BECA has the potential to address multiple challenges at once: rigor in schools, college affordability, and college persistence.

Marla Dean, Ed.D
Executive Director/CEO
Bright Beginnings
Washington, DC
Bright Beginnings (BB) seeks to strengthen the school readiness of homeless children through employing a two-generation approach that: 1) increases the children’s exposure to language and opportunities for verbal interaction; and 2) increases their parents’ fluency and self-image as their child’s first and best teacher. BB, which will reach 400 homeless children, will track progress in its goal to improve school readiness by exposing children to 45 million words by age 5 using a Language Tracker. The tracker holds software that records and captures language usage and vocal interactions and provides cloud-based data to guide parents, caregivers, teachers, and home visitors. The technology and resulting data have the potential to personalize interventions for students and families and support a data-driven and evidence-based organization.

Paris Woods
Co-Founder and Executive Director
College Beyond
New Orleans, LA
Just 11 percent of Louisiana Black undergraduates who enroll at four-year public universities will earn a degree on time, resulting in a very small percentage of Black youth from our community earning the degrees that are so important to economic mobility. Paris Woods knows first-hand that difficulties arise as early as the summer before freshman year. Due to a lack of guidance and support with myriad enrollment steps and confusing paperwork, many college-intending students fail to enroll in the fall, a phenomenon known as Summer Melt, whereby some 40 percent of low-income students melt from the college pipeline.

Additionally, among students who do matriculate, research shows that most students drop out of college within the first year. This is especially true for low-income and first-generation college students who lack the support their affluent peers possess, and often stumble at predictable moments in the college transition process: accessing student supports, securing and maintaining financial aid, mitigating small financial emergencies, and finding first year success. To combat the enormous challenges low-income students face in transitioning to college, College Beyond believes that investing its resources and efforts in a student’s first year of college will generate a long-term, transformative impact on a student’s life in college and beyond.

Marvin Pierre
Eight Million Stories
Houston, TX
Young people, especially young men of color, are disappearing—from schools, communities, and the workforce. Fueled by zero tolerance policies and in-school policing, the school-to-prison pipeline is sweeping disproportionately high numbers of youth into the criminal justice system. Led by Marvin Pierre, Eight Million Stories aims to disrupt the school-to-prison pipeline in the city of Houston, TX through a holistic educational program for disconnected youth between the ages of 16-18. Eight Million Stories provides disconnected youth who have been pushed out of our school system with an opportunity to complete their education and obtain meaningful employment, in order to drastically reduce the recidivism rates of justice-involved youth in the city of Houston. The success of this program will assist school districts in finding alternative pathways for students who are not succeeding in traditional school settings.

Derwin Sisnett
Founder and Managing Partner
Maslow Development, Inc.
Memphis, TN
In the United States, the education reform agenda continues to rally around establishing high-performing schools; however, the proposed solutions do not address the factors that contribute to underperforming schools, such as neighborhood blight and high mobility rates, limited access to affordable health care, and high unemployment rates. Maslow is designing and developing the Memphis Lighthouse Project, a 100+ acre mixed-use community in Memphis, TN that will serve as the flagship Maslow community and an exemplar for learning-centered communities to come. While an educational component will be central to the mixed-use development, the design will also be anchored by mixed-income housing, workforce, and health and wellness initiatives.

Veronica Palmer
Co-Founder and CEO
RISE Colorado
Aurora, CO
In communities across the country, we see public schools with low academic achievement and gaps in performance between students of color and their white peers. Research shows that family engagement improves attendance, graduation rates, and overall academic achievement. That’s why RISE focuses on creating strong partnerships between schools and families with the goal of improving academic outcomes for low-income students and students of color in Aurora, CO. RISE Colorado works to Educate, Engage, and Empower low-income families and families of color to RISE as change agents for educational equity in our public schools. Through knowledge building, organizing, and leadership development, families will end educational inequity. In 2018, RISE will further develop its program to include elementary and middle schools, making it a full P-12 model; pilot curriculum to engage and empower teen students; provide diversity, equity, and inclusion professional development to staff in its partner schools; and work to link its work to improved academic achievement.