Alejandro Gac-Artigas is a 1st grade teacher turned entrepreneur. His passion for education—ignited when his family immigrated to the U.S. seeking educational opportunity—led him to the classroom. His frustration with a system disserving his students led him to found Springboard in 2011. Alejandro was since honored as ‘one of the world’s best emerging social innovators’ by Echoing Green, a leading impact investor that selected 20 startups from 3,500 global applicants. He was also named one of Forbes’ 30 under 30 and recognized as one of two national recipients of the Claneil Emerging Leaders Fund. Alejandro is an alumnus of Teach for America and McKinsey & Company. He holds a BA with high honors from Harvard University and an MS in Urban Ed from the University of Pennsylvania. His favorite childhood book is The Little Prince—it continues to inspire him today.
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Aubrey White has devoted her life to the students of Philadelphia. Shocked by stark disparities in educational opportunities, she decided to join the fight for educational equity while an undergraduate at Yale University. To alleviate her student debt burden so that she could work as a teacher, she transferred to Penn State and graduated with honors. Aubrey has spent the last 12 years honing her craft as an elementary school teacher, receiving her M.Ed. from Chestnut Hill College and dedicating herself to professional development. She is the proud mother of three children, with whom she shares her own favorite childhood book: Shortcut by Donald Crews.
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Keo Chea-Young, Ed.D. is committed to helping young children across the country read early and well. To this end, she has dedicated her career to program and curriculum development, developing and facilitating professional learning for teachers, and coaching teachers to improve instruction in both school and out-of-school settings. Prior to joining Springboard Collaborative, she consulted for two literacy organizations in Philadelphia and has instructed part-time at Arcadia University. She holds a master’s degree in language and literacy and a reading specialist certification from the Harvard Graduate School of Education and a doctorate in Reading, Writing, Literacy from the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education. Her favorite childhood book was Tikki Tikki Tembo by Arlene Mosel, a book she continues to enjoy with her two young daughters.
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Jeff has spent almost 20 years working to create opportunities for marginalized youth populations and communities. Early in his career, Jeff founded The DJ Project--a seminal program that leverages a hip-hop pedagogy to validate and empower youth that are disconnected from more formal educational institutions. Since then, he has led organizations and collaborated with school networks to strengthen youth employment, teen pregnancy prevention, family engagement, college access, and K-8 out-of-school time programs. A Bay Area native, Jeff graduated with honors from UC Berkeley and received his Masters in Nonprofit Administration from the University of San Francisco. Jeff's favorite childhood book is A Sick Day for Amos McGee, because it reinforces values of compassion, charity, and loyal friendship.
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Justice and equity have motivated Mike Gross to devote his career to improving education for all children. A youth development and urban education leader with a strong entrepreneurial spirit, Mike’s experience includes a decade as a teacher and founder of award-winning youth leadership programs and over a decade of systemic education reform work with organizations including New Leaders, Turnaround for Children and the NYC DOE. Mike believes that we will not break the cycle of intergenerational poverty gripping too many communities across the country unless we engage educators, families, and community members in the effort. He is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, the Coro Fellows Program in Public Affairs and the Kellogg School of Management. Mike’s favorite childhood book is Where the Wild Things Are, because it celebrates wild imagination and the power of family love.
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Laura Banos hopes to help build equal educational opportunities for all children. In college, she could often be found tutoring at homework club or leading volunteer groups around the Bethlehem community. During her AmeriCorps VISTA service she focused on growing the capacity and sustainability of partnerships between Crawford Central School District and Allegheny College. She believes in the importance of community voice and that every person has a valuable story to tell. Laura earned a BA in Sociology/Anthropology from Lehigh University and a Masters in Public Administration from the University of Pennsylvania’s Fels Institute of Government. Her favorite childhood story is The Very Bumpy Bus Ride which taught her to enjoy the hiccups of getting to where you want to go.
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Ana is dedicated to working to equalize opportunities for children across the nation. While in college, she volunteered as a Team Leader at Puentes Hacia el Futuro, a part of Puentes de Salud, a non-profit organization serving the Latin-American immigrant community in South Philadelphia. Ana is a recent graduate from Temple University with a BA in Psychology and Spanish. She has come to Springboard as a Philly Fellow, part of the AmeriCorps VISTA program dedicated to fighting poverty. For her year of service, Ana takes on the exciting task of piloting Springboard’s new Schoolyear program, where she will collaborate with students, families, and teachers to improve childhood literacy rates in low income schools. As an adopted daughter, her favorite childhood story is The Rainbabies, by Laura Melmed, because it promotes the importance of unconditional and untraditional familial love.
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Rukiya has always been interested in the influence of socioeconomic status and race on educational attainment. In college, she researched the learning achievement gap and was discouraged by the never-ending literature regarding eradicating the achievement gap. Rukiya earned a BA in Sociology and a certificate in African-American studies from Princeton University. She believes in the importance of giving back to the community and finding innovative ways to tackle social problems. Her favorite childhood story was Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown, which helped put her to sleep on countless nights.
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Sara Monostra wants all children to be given the opportunity to explore the many worlds that books can offer to them. She is currently pursuing a BA in International Studies with a concentration in International Business and Economics at Drexel University and will be co-oping at Springboard Collaborative for 6 months. During this time, she hopes to learn more about how organizations like Springboard effectively generate positive results in their communities. Her favorite childhood book is Charlotte’s Web.
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