Standing Up For What We Believe In: Why We Joined #FoundersForChange
The first time I stood up for something I believed in I had to stand on a chair. I was around 7 years old and I wanted to know why there was a Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center, and nothing to celebrate other holidays. After writing a letter to which I got a very unsatisfactory answer, my dad bought me one share of Rockefeller stock and took me to the shareholders meeting. When they asked for comments I took the microphone, stood up on a chair, and told them I didn’t think it was fair - there were a lot of holidays to celebrate and they should recognize all of them. While it didn’t change anything (to this day Rockefeller Center only displays a Christmas tree) I remember feeling good about saying something and trying to make a change.
This experience as a 7-year-old led me to stand up for what I believed in many more times. I went on women’s rights marches with my mom and stuffed envelopes for women’s rights campaigns; I campaigned for politicians I believed in; I wrote letters for Amnesty International; and I joined and led campus groups focused on issues of diversity and inclusion. After college, I joined Teach For America because I believed that all students deserve an excellent education. I joined Education Elements because I believed that districts and schools need better support to help teachers and students achieve this goal. I am a deeply mission- and values-driven person and am incredibly lucky to be part of an organization that is mission- and values-driven too. So, I am especially proud today to announce that Ed Elements has joined the Founders for Change movement.
As part of Founders for Change we are publicly committing to promoting diversity and inclusion when we think about our team, our board, and our investors with this simple, powerful statement:
We believe in a more diverse and inclusive tech industry. We are dedicated to having a diverse team and board, and when we have a choice of investment partners in the future, the diversity of their firms will be an important consideration.
Joining Founders for Change is less of a signal of a new direction for our organization, and more of a public commitment and announcement about things that are important to us. I look at it as a way to stand up for what we believe in and to stand beside others who feel the same. As an education consulting and edtech company, we are rarely discussed in the same sentence as Airbnb, Dropbox, Instagram, Stitchfix and the many many other companies that signed on, but I am proud that we are all standing together now and committing to making a change.
So we will continue to focus on diversity in our hiring (and we *are* hiring soon so please check our careers page). We will continue to build Education Elements as an inclusive and welcoming organization. We will continue to engage in both team-specific and company-wide reflections around race and equity, including conversations about identity, systemic racism, cultural competence, and implicit bias. We will continue to host company-wide discussions during our weekly calls where we reflect on questions like: How might racial equity become a key part of our design process with schools? How might we address the national violence against communities of color during conversations in our workshops? We will continue to prioritize diversity in speakers and attendees at events like our Personalized Learning Summit. We will continue to talk about the importance of issues around diversity, inclusion, and equity in our work with districts. And we will continue to revisit our definitions of personalized learning and our school design process to ensure that our work and the work of our clients supports greater dialogue with students and families about their specific needs. We are proud of these continued commitments, but also recognize we have so much more to do. And whether on top of a chair or in a coordinated march with others, we will continue to stand up, live our values, and take action.
We invite you to share your ideas with us and to join the movement alongside us - tweet us at @edelements #foundersforchange.
About Amy Jenkins
Amy Jenkins is the chief operating officer of Education Elements. Following a meandering path of teaching in Oakland, running an after-school program, working at NewSchools Venture Fund and being a strategy consultant she is thrilled to now focus on supporting districts to in their efforts to become more dynamic, responsive and outcomes-oriented. Amy splits her time at work between coaching district leaders and ensuring the health and happiness of everyone at Education Elements through creating an environment where everyone can thrive and grow. On the weekends she can be found chasing her kids around.