how we partner with communities, parents, teachers, and students

Elevating Rural Colorado: Report Reflects on Five Years of Partnership & Growth

Elevating Rural Colorado with Colorado Succeeds, Colorado Education Initiative, Empower Schools, and Lyra

Chris Gabrieli’s New Harvard Course on Remixing Education

“Empower Schools is a unique type of partner”

“Empower Schools is a unique type of partner. They met us where we were and helped us align around what success would look like for our schools and our region. Then, they worked collaboratively with our leadership teams to build plans that would get us to the next step in our journey to success. They helped us behind the scenes in making changes at the school and district level to provide our students with opportunities they wouldn’t have otherwise had. Everything they do, they think about sustainability. With their training, tools, connections, and resources, the Rural Schools Innovation Zone will be able to continue to transform the life trajectories of our students and catalyze economic development in our region for many years to come.”

- Mike Gonzalez, Executive Director, Rural Schools Innovation Zone

“This has helped refocus our leadership teams back to instruction. It is evident to us that the turnaround of the LPN campuses is working for our school community.”

"One person can not change a school by themselves. Having Empower Schools as a thought partner allows the LPN to do just that! Empower was right there from the onset giving us guidance on how to create, design and launch the LPN. This has helped refocus our leadership teams back to instruction. It is evident to us that the turnaround of the LPN campuses is working for our school community. There is no doubt that our partnership with Empower Schools has been a partner in our success!”

- Cicely Alexander, Executive Director, Lubbock Partnership Network

“I truly feel that I have an amazing network team of experts who can not only provide the technical assistance, but also share the passion of providing all students with quality and innovative educational experiences.”

“Empower Schools has been a key player in the successful launch of the Leadership Academy Network. The guidance, technical assistance, and support has been critical in understanding the purpose and design of the Partnership. The Empower Schools team are highly engaged and responsive to ensuring the success of their partners. In working with Empower Schools, I truly feel that I have an amazing network team of experts who can not only provide the technical assistance, but also share the passion of providing all students with quality and innovative educational experiences.”

- Priscila Dilley, Senior Officer, Leadership Academy Network

“I knew I wasn’t doing this alone”

"I knew I wasn't doing this alone. If I ever had a question - or if my board members ever had a question - I could turn to our Empower team to get the answer. Then I can put my focus on what students need. Empower has been a gift to Benavides ISD."

- Dr. Marisa Chapa, Superintendent, Benavides ISD

“We give rural students exposure to rigor before they’re alone in a dorm room or on a job site and just have to figure it out. “

"What we cannot do alone, we can do together. By offering opportunities to students regionally, students will be able to obtain their high school diploma from a high-performing academic high school, and if they choose, they can also leave with a career certification, a college degree, or a head start on a postsecondary pathway by combining dual enrollment and career and technical coursework to earn college credits and industry certifications while in high school. In a perfect world, this should be an easy endeavor. But innovation is not simple, and changing the way we do things can often bring about a sense of uneasiness and discomfort. Empower has been with us every step of the way. I couldn’t imagine taking this on without them."

- Dr. Brenda Krage, Superintendent, Fremont Re-2 School District 

“Students in Rural South Texas often face specific challenges in their PK-12 lives that determine post-secondary success.”

"The Rural Schools Innovation Zone provides a skill set that helps develop student skills to help push through these academic and social challenges. Even our highest performing students who have had very little, if any, academic issues in high schools face challenges when they leave rural areas. However, the RSIZ affords our students the opportunity to experience real-life learning experiences and develop self-discipline in a supportive environment before they leave their comfort zone. This prepares our students for success in competitive markets."

- Steve VanMatre, Superintendent of Schools, Premont Independent School District

“One district by itself does not have the ability to provide resources to our students like bigger, more urban schools.”

"There is no reason our kids here shouldn’t have the same opportunities, and this partnership gives them that chance. Empower ensures all kids have those opportunities."

- Mike Gonzalez, Executive Director, Rural Schools Innovation Zone

“They are resourceful thought partners, invaluable resources, and are sincerely viewed as an extension of our Leadership Team.”

"As the newest member of the Leadership Academy Network team, getting acclimated to our relatively new organization in the midst of a pandemic proved to be quite a challenge. Fortunately, Empower Schools had already established a very robust and comprehensive relationship with our Network, and played a vital role in ensuring I had historical context and a framework for existing projects."

- Alex Seltzer, Executive Director of Operations, Leadership Academy Network

“Empower makes our team feel heard and understood.”

"Through conversations with Empower, and the partners with whom they connect us, we are able to collaborate with innovators. Empower has been and continues to be a great resource for us all. Having Empower in our corner every step of the way has been critical to our success."

- Dana Carpenter & Catelia Vazquez, Chief Strategy Officer and Administrative Specialist, Transformation Waco

“Empower has been more than a technical assistance provider.”

"[They have] supported our work by being a thought partner, coach, project manager, and accountability partner. They are an important team member that is integral to our success."

- David Saenz, Chief of Innovation, Fort Worth ISD

“I think this is a model for the entire country.”

"What educators ask for is time — time with other teachers and to learn from other teachers. There is a teacher voice. It is coming from the front line. They are making decisions that are best for their own particular campus."

- Thomas Mazza, Principal, Forest Park Middle School

“Empower Schools allows for the change that needs to happen for our kids.”

"What impresses me is their commitment to communities and school level autonomy. When I think of Empower Schools, I think of freedom – freedom from the restraints that come with being part of a larger system and freedom to innovate so schools can make decisions that best meet the needs of their students and communities. They understand that schools are the nexus of change in education and should be empowered to serve their communities. When we set up only the second Empowerment Zone in Denver, being able to look to Empower Schools and rely on their experience and expertise was really important to us. There is no way this is something we could have done on our own."

- Kurt Dennis, Principal, McAuliffe International School

“Innovation zones allow educators in traditional district schools to better meet the needs of their students through tailored approaches.”

"Empower Schools partners with communities to design, launch, and, if needed, support these zones over time. Take the Luminary Learning Network as an example: working with local partners, the Empower team helped school leaders think creatively about a structure that could empower educators as a crucial way to unlock more student achievement. With Empower’s strategic guidance and on the ground implementation support, educators were able to do the difficult but rewarding work required to move more decision-making authority to the people closest to the students: educators. That’s a unique approach to what school leadership really looks like, and it’s working."

- Mary Seawell, Senior Vice President, Education, Gates Family Foundation

“With Empower’s help we have devised a new approach that is making a real difference for our students and educators in Denver.”

"Empower Schools has helped us partner with the district in new ways to create a system that works for our school and our community. Now, we have more autonomy, and more control over our budget to make decisions that are the best for our school and our network. The result is the ability to target our students’ greatest needs, increase instructional time, and be able to better assess in real time what’s working for our students. The Teacher Council and the School Review process that Empower helped us create are teacher centered and focused on student achievement. All of this has worked together to create a powerful impact for our students."

- Frank Coyne, Principal, Denver Green School

“The ‘zone approach’ to ensuring there are quality schools is both powerful and unique in structure in K-12 education.”

"We are grateful for Empower's purposeful work in convening leaders of zones together. Through Empower's facilitated networking of zones, we can learn from leaders who have embraced the zone approach in the fight for equitable schools."

- Colleen Curran and Matt Brunell, Co-Executive Directors, Springfield Empowerment Zone Partnership

“One of the programs that I think has turned out to be quite successful is the Empowerment Zone”

"One of the programs that I think has turned out to be quite successful is the Empowerment Zone that they set up in Springfield…that’s a model that the teachers like, the administrators like, and has shown real progress in helping those kids improve their scores."

- Charlie Baker, Governor, State of Massachusettes

“Early College made me hopeful for my future.”

"As someone who is from a low-income family, money is what worried me the most when thinking about college. Throughout middle school and the beginning of high school, I worried that I would have to set my dream aside (for a while) and focus on working, but now because of Early College, I know that my dreams can come true and that I wouldn’t have to set them aside or put them on hold."

- Darleny, Current MA Early College Student

“Empower Schools helped us form a collaborative effort to reinvent the ways schools and industry partners in the region can cooperatively use resources to provide an outstanding educational experience for rural students now and in the future.”

"The team at Empower becomes like an extension of your own team. They bring knowledge and capacity to the table - from helping us bring together stakeholders across K12, higher education and industry to codify our vision and goals to understanding what’s required to create a new nonprofit organization from scratch - and then they rolled up their sleeves to help us do it, always with our mission and vision at the forefront."

- Dr. Kevin Aten, Superintendent of Schools, Bayfield School District

“Early College challenged me a way that my high school classes did not.”

"Early college has helped me prepare for the future because it has given me experience and taught me what to expect in college."

- Tchaica, Current Early College Student