From The 74: “How One Education Leader’s Newark Nonprofit Became One of the Few Minority-Led Groups to Win a $30 Million Federal Grant to Fight Poverty”

Dominique Lee made headlines as a 25-year-old when he and four other Teach for America alumni took over a failing Newark elementary school and turned it into BRICK Avon Academy, the acronym standing for Building Responsible Intelligent Creative Kids. As was widely reported, a frustrated Lee decided to launch his own school with fellow teachers after seeing ninth-graders at the city’s Malcolm X. Shabazz High School unable to name the seven continents or the state’s governor.

Now 33, Lee, and the nonprofit network that began with BRICK Avon and later came to include two other schools and the South Ward Children’s Alliance, are poised to increase their impact and reach. The alliance was one of the few minority-led organizations to receive a competitive $30 million Promise Neighborhood grant from the U.S. Department of Education in 2017.

Newark’s South Ward is the city’s most distressed neighborhood, where “children and families [are] exposed to significant adverse childhood experiences and toxic stress,” according to the BRICK Education Network. Its approach to alleviating that generational disadvantage is to offer a continuum of high-quality schools and wraparound services for children and families from birth through college and career.

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