Partners was designed to address a distinct need to proactively increase the number of highly qualified leaders of color who control and operate high-performing charter schools and networks in the charter school networks.
Charter schools are poised to address some of the challenges facing public education, including the lack quality options for families and the wide achievement gap for minority and low-income students, particularly those run by entrepreneurial leaders who reflect the racial/ethnic background of the students and have strong ties to the community they serve. Few organizations provide early-stage funding to help entrepreneurial leaders open new charter schools and establish a foundation for academic success, and the absence of such support is even more acute for minority entrepreneurs who often lack access to needed capital, social networks, and other important resources.
As the charter school movement continues to grow, it is essential that more leaders of color are involved in the education decisions that affect their communities and the underserved youth who live in them. Of the 1.4 million students enrolled in charter schools, almost 60 percent are students of color and more than one-third are from low-income backgrounds1. The percentages of students of color and low-income students enrolled in charter schools are much higher in historically underserved communities. Partners asserts that, given the opportunity and necessary supports, entrepreneurs of color bring the commitment and leadership necessary for the thoughtful creation of innovative, inspiring, and high-achieving public schools for underserved students. Leaders of color are uniquely positioned in predominantly minority and low-income communities; they bring important attributes that add significant value to the charter schools they run and the communities they serve. Many have grown in or live in the community they serve, which helps build trust and respect among families. They hold high expectations and serve as positive role models for students and families. More importantly, leaders of color understand the educational barriers facing underserved students and unyielding in their push to help more students graduate from high school and college.
1National Alliance for Public Charter Schools Public Charter School Dashboard June 2009. http://www.publiccharters.org/dashboard/