In recognition of the innovative and effective summer jobs, learning, and meals partnerships in cities, towns and counties, the White House, Civic Nation and the National Summer Learning Association (NSLA) honored nine individuals as Champions of Change in summer opportunities to highlight them as leaders who are turning summer from a time of high risk to a time of great reward for the country’s most vulnerable children and youth.
Watch a recording of the Champions of Change event.
White House Champions of Change for Summer Opportunity:
Chekemma J. Fulmore-Townsend
Chekemma J. Fulmore-Townsend, MSW serves as the President and CEO of the Philadelphia Youth Network (PYN), a nonprofit that builds and connects systems to equip young people for academic achievement, economic opportunity and personal success. Under Chekemma’s leadership, PYN has transformed the youth employment system and played a critical role in surpassing the city’s goal of 10,000 summer jobs in 2015. Since its inception, PYN has created more than 150,000 summer and year round opportunities for Philadelphia’s hardest to reach young people, with scalable models and collective impact strategies that have been replicated nationally and recognized globally.
Bill Hanawalt is the Executive Director of Peace Community Center in the Hilltop neighborhood of Tacoma, Washington, a position he has held since the Center’s opening 15 years ago. The Center supports and encourages youth historically underrepresented in college to cultivate their academic and leadership talents through in-school, after-school and summer programs for students in elementary through post-secondary education, including mentoring, tutoring, leadership development, college readiness preparation, and social and emotional skill development. Peace Community Center serves over 350 students each year and provides nearly 200 elementary, middle and high school students with summer programming. Bill also served for six years on the Board of Directors of Lutheran Services in America, is currently the Co-Chair of Tacoma’s summer and after-school network, and a member of the state-wide Expanded Learning Opportunities Council.
Alec Lee is the co-founder and Executive Director of Aim High, an educational nonprofit serving middle school youth in the San Francisco Bay Area. For the last 30 years, Aim High has worked to narrow the opportunity and achievement gaps prevalent among students from under-resourced communities. Aim High engages students in a multi-year, free summer learning program that blends academics, enrichment, and college and career preparedness. Under Alec’s leadership, more than 9,000 students have participated since the program began in 1986. In 2016, Aim High will oversee seventeen summer campuses in five regions and serve over 2,000 students. In 2016, Aim High launched Vision 2020, a five-year plan to serve 6,000 more students, while also training hundreds of new teachers and educational leaders, and elevating support for students and alumni through strategic partnerships.
Victor Francisco Lopez
Victor Francisco Lopez lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico and founded Learners Chess in 2010. Learners Chess operates with a social business model to use the game of chess as a medium through which its coaches serve as mentors to children in the Albuquerque, New Mexico metropolitan area. Over 5,300 students have participated in Learners' summer chess camps and after-school chess programs and nearly 800 students have received financial assistance through Learners' need-based scholarship fund. Victor has recruited, trained, and mentored over 30 chess coaches since 2010. Victor previously worked as a community organizer through The Center for Community Change and U.S. PIRG.
Laura Huerta Migus
Laura Huerta Migus is the Executive Director of the Association of Children's Museums (ACM) in Arlington, Virginia, the world's largest professional society promoting and advocating on behalf of children's museums and children’s museum professionals. Throughout her career, Laura has been devoted to the growth and education of children, particularly those from underserved and under-resourced communities. Under her leadership, ACM pursues innovative and effective partnerships to leverage the power of children’s museums. The latest manifestation of this approach is ACM’s partnership with the Ultimate Block Party, which emphasizes the importance of play for healthy academic, social, and emotional development, all critical elements in addressing summer learning loss for the youngest learners. Previously, Laura served as the Director of Professional Development and Equity Initiatives at the Association of Science-Technology Centers, Inc.
Riya Rahman is from Waco, Texas and is a senior political science student at Baylor University. For the last two years, she has worked to end child hunger with the Texas Hunger Initiative (THI) and Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign. During the 2014-15 school year, she was a No Kid Hungry Youth Ambassador on Baylor’s campus to increase child hunger awareness and advocacy among college students. This summer, she worked at THI’s Dallas Regional Office as an AmeriCorps VISTA Summer Associate, where she promoted the Summer Meals Program. Currently, Riya works at the THI Central Office as an undergraduate policy analyst where she focuses on child nutrition policy at a state and federal level.
Lauren Reilly is the Program Director at Practice Makes Perfect (PMP), a nationally recognized summer school operator in New York City. She joined the PMP team in early 2014 after teaching in the Bronx and Harlem's charter schools. During her time at PMP, she has created the programmatic framework that has positioned the organization as a highly scalable solution to our nation's summer school crisis. In addition to improving the quality of training, Lauren oversaw the integration of a home visits program, a merit-pay system, and one of the most selective internship programs in the US, with just a 4% selection rate for the summer of 2014.
Olis Simmons lives in Oakland, California and is the founding President and CEO of Youth UpRising, a multi-service youth leadership development organization started in 2005. Youth UpRising provides comprehensive, fully integrated health, wellness, educational, career, arts, and cultural programming to Alameda County youth and young adults, ages 13-24. Under Olis’s leadership, Youth UpRising has served over 13,000 youth in the East Oakland area, including over 2,100 internship placements. In 2014, Simmons partnered with the Oakland Unified School District to found Castlemont Community Transformation Schools, a cradle-to-career continuum that holds students as drivers of neighborhood improvement.
Beth A. Unverzagt
Beth Unverzagt lives in Wilsonville, Oregon and has served as the Director of OregonASK since 2005. OregonASK is a collaboration of 65 public and private partners which seek to improve the quality, increase sustainability and create system support for out-of-school time programs in Oregon. Beth coordinates state level efforts around afterschool and summer programming, including OregonASK’s Summer Learning, Summer Library, Summer Lunch program, which operates at 30 sites around Oregon and focuses on high need children reading below grade level. Beth also educates policy makers, local and state representatives, educational stakeholders and afterschool professionals around the issues and resources for the field of afterschool and advocates for systemic change within statewide systems.