Exciting News at Education First

At Education First, we hire the most talented and passionate educators and policy advisors in P-20 public education so that we can bring deep, practical expertise to our partners and deliver with quality the premium solutions we promise. And once we bring those individuals on board, we take pride in both prioritizing their professional growth and seeking out opportunities for them to increase their impact at Education First and on the field as a whole.

Today, we are proud to announce that Kelly James, who has been with us since 2012, has become our newest Partner. Kelly leads our Engaged Students practice area, which includes support for the NoVo Foundation’s Coordinating Districts Initiative and Social Emotional Learning (SEL) Innovation Awards, and the Funders Collaborative on Innovative Measurement. Kelly also advises state and national grantmakers, school system leaders and nonprofit executives on college and career readiness advocacy and implementation, as well as on general strategy and organizational effectiveness.

Kelly joined us after many years as a senior grantmaker with the Raikes Foundation, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Steans Family Foundation. She started her career as youth leadership director for an Annenberg Network in North Lawndale, Chicago, and as the founding executive director of Chicago SCORES, a nonprofit that brings together writing, soccer and community service to help low-income youth succeed.

To learn more about Kelly’s work, you can read a guide she co-authored on how to maximize the impact of funder collaboratives and her reflections based on firsthand observations on how to incorporate social emotional learning in school discipline policies.

Thanks to many of you, Education First continues to strive to achieve our mission that all students, particularly low-income students and students of color, are prepared for success in college, career and life. This year, we’ll expand to more than 50 consultants living in 17 states, completing nearly 150 high-impact engagements serving policymakers, system leaders, philanthropists and advocates in 40 states in both K-12 and higher education. We are delighted that Kelly now will apply her strategic advising; her innovative, creative and divergent thinking; and her exemplary customer focus to the leadership of Education First.

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