New Leaders Announces 2020-21 Roberts Award Winners

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Twenty-three schools in California, Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, North Carolina, New Jersey, New York, Tennessee and Washington, DC, receive grants of $10,000 for student-centered programming and COVID response

New Leaders, in partnership with national board member Linnea Roberts, today announced 23 schools led by the organization’s alumni will receive grants to support innovative, student-centered programming.

The Roberts Award for School Innovation gives grants of $10,000 that support student enrichment projects in schools served by alumni of the New Leaders Aspiring Principals or Emerging Leaders programs. Many of this year’s awardees are planning projects responding directly to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on schools and students, including buying protective equipment for staff, addressing food insecurity among students and engaging in social-emotional support and learning. Other projects include buying STEM equipment and licenses to software and hosting parent engagement workshops.

The Roberts Award honors the work of New Leaders alumni by helping them provide students with exposure to activities and resources that will build their cultural capital, encourage their curiosity, and spark their imagination and ingenuity via learning experiences that take place outside of the traditional classroom setting. By addressing disparities in the extracurricular opportunities available to students across the country, the Roberts Award supports New Leaders alumni to truly prepare their students for whatever path they choose to pursue in life.

“This award program, made possible by Linnea and George Roberts, is critical to supporting our alumni as they look for innovative ways to impact student learning, particularly this year as schools and teachers respond to the effect of the pandemic on families’ lives,” said Jean Desravines, CEO of New Leaders. “New Leaders is proud to help ensure these alumni and their schools can address both basic necessities like food and protective equipment, as well as enriching experiences like robotics classes and parent workshops.”

This year’s awardees include school leaders in smaller communities like Guilford County, North Carolina, and Maplewood, New Jersey, as well as large cities like Atlanta, Baltimore, Chicago, Oakland, and Washington, DC.

The full list is below:

  • Alaina Chipman Leeks, Atlanta Unbound Academy (Atlanta, GA)
  • Amy Carozza, Coliseum College Prep Academy (Oakland, CA)
  • Andy Demster, Maxine Smith STEAM Academy (Memphis, TN)
  • Dara Crocker Gronau, Maplewood Middle School (Maplewood, NJ)
  • Emily Rasmussen, Elmhurst United Middle School (Oakland, CA)
  • Keri Mendez, Dr. Bessie Rhodes School of Global Studies (Skokie, IL)
  • Lisa Brown, Stuart Hill Academic Academy (Baltimore, MD)
  • Myron Long, Social Justice Public Charter School (Washington, DC)
  • Nicholas Dixon, Foust Elementary School (Guilford County, NC)
  • Nicki Fox, Learning Without Limits: An Education For Change Public School (Oakland, CA)
  • Sabrina Moore, MPA Primary (Oakland, CA)
  • Samantha Novak, Center City PCS Brightwood (Washington, DC)
  • Shelina Warren, Paul Laurence Dunbar High School (Washington, DC)
  • Yalil Nieves, Mary Gage Peterson Elementary School (Chicago, IL)
  • Zarina Ahmad, Piedmont Avenue Elementary (Oakland, CA)
  • Judy Adams, Accokeek Academy (Accokeek, MD)
  • Matthew McCrea, Meridian Public Charter School (Washington, DC)
  • Michael Windram, Mott Haven Academy Charter School (Bronx, NY)
  • Alina Thouyaret, DC Bilingual (Washington, DC)
  • Ryan Belville, McAuliffe Elementary (Chicago, IL)
  • Shawna Fagbuyi, Allenwood Elementary (Temple Hills, MD)
  • Stephanie Novak, Holabird Academy (Baltimore, MD)
  • Yetta Lewis, Power Center Academy High School (Memphis, TN)

Learn more about the awardees here.


To afford students real opportunities in life and build schools that reflect and foster a more just and equitable world, we need determined, unwavering school leaders committed to the truth that every student can excel. New Leaders is an educational leadership organization whose mission is driven by racial equity and social justice, and by an unwavering belief in the potential of every student. We forge deep partnerships to equip school leaders at all levels to be powerful and positive forces for change, especially in our most marginalized communities. To date, we have developed 6,000 education leaders who annually reach 750,000 students in more than 45 cities across the country. To support even more children and communities, we champion evidence-based policies that reflect the transformative power of exceptional school leadership and that break down inequitable structural and institutional barriers to student achievement and educational equity. By transforming our schools, we’ll transform our society.