New Leaders Announces 2018-19 Roberts Award Winners

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New Leaders, in partnership with national board member Linnea Roberts, is pleased to announce that 11 schools would receive grants to support innovative, student-centered programming through the Roberts Award for School Innovation program.

Roberts Awards are grants of up to $25,000 that support student enrichment projects in New Leader schools.

The award is designed to address the experience gap that exists between students in low-income communities and their more advantaged peers. The Roberts Award honors the work of New Leaders alumni by helping them provide their students with exposure to activities and resources that will build their cultural capital and accelerate their learning beyond the typical classroom experience.

“All children deserve access to strong, well-rounded curricula along with resources and supports that address their whole-child needs,” said Jean Desravines, CEO of New Leaders. “Roberts Award-winning projects will have a significant, measurable, and sustainable impact on both the academic and personal growth of students in selected schools.”

This year’s projects include a nature-based after-school program for preschoolers, a summer institute and other specialized summer programming, a high school and college readiness program for middle school students and their families, a problem-based learning  academic model, upgraded makerspaces and tech hubs, a student-led tutoring program, additional academic support and resources for students with disabilities and English learners, and new enrichment offerings ranging from sports to hip-hop poetry and chess club.

“We are so grateful to Linnea and George Roberts for their vision, passion, and commitment to school leadership,” said Elizabeth Zimmerman, Senior Executive Director of Alumni Engagement. “Through their generous support of the Roberts Award, we are able to help our alumni effect even greater change for their students beyond their New Leaders training years.”

This year’s awardees include schools led by New Leader Principals in eight cities: Baltimore, MD; Charlotte, NC; Chicago, IL; Memphis, TN; New York, NY; Richmond, CA; Oakland, CA; and Washington, DC.

A full list of awardees is below:

  • Shawn Benjamin, Leadership Public Schools-Richmond (Richmond, CA)
  • Jessica Fyles, Envision Academy Middle Grades (Oakland, CA)
  • Yetta Lewis, Power Center Academy Middle School (Memphis, TN)
  • Joseph Manko, Liberty Elementary School (Baltimore, MD)
  • Melissa Resh, Lake View High School (Chicago, IL)
  • Amy Mirco Tobergte, St. Patrick Catholic School (Charlotte, NC)
  • Jessica Nauiokas, Mott Haven Academy Charter School (Bronx, NY)
  • Romy Trigg-Smith, Greenleaf TK-8 (Oakland, CA)
  • Alina Thouyaret, DC Bilingual Public Charter School (Washington, DC)
  • Mayra Canizales, Oyster Adams Bilingual School (Washington, DC)

For additional information and background, please see the Roberts Award webpage.


New Leaders transforms underperforming schools by developing outstanding leaders at every level of the education system—from teacher leaders to principals and their supervisors. We work hand in hand with our state, district, and charter partners, delivering leadership solutions that build on their strengths and address their most-pressing priorities. Our evidence-based programming cultivates diverse, equity-driven leaders equipped with the skills to elevate instruction, enhance learning, and build vibrant, inclusive school communities. To encourage widespread adoption of effective, sustainable leadership practices, we also advocate for federal and state policies that support the work of school leaders everywhere. To date, New Leaders has trained 3,900 education leaders who annually reach nearly half a million young people, mostly students of color and children from low-income families, delivering breakthrough academic results and building brighter futures for high-need urban and rural communities nationwide.