EOS Named as a Leading Education Equity Organization

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In Wake of Admissions Scandal, Equal Opportunity Schools (EOS) Named as a Leading Education Equity Organization

EOS Focuses on Reducing Barriers to Higher Education for Students of Color and Low-Income Students

Seattle, WA—Amid the college admissions scandal that exposes new levels of privilege in the education system, MarketWatch names Equal Opportunity Schools as one of the top five organizations working to reduce barriers to higher education for underserved students.

Recent news reveals a more salacious side of a flawed system that favors white and wealthy students. While the story has drawn headlines, EOS recognizes these inequities are neither new nor surprising, and has dedicated their work to reduce these system-wide inequities.

MarketWatch, Morningstar, and People Magazine recognize EOS’ decade of work to expand college preparation and readiness for students of color and low-income students. The organization works across the country to close Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB) equity gaps, ensuring students of color and low-income students, no matter their background or zip code, have access to academically challenging courses. Academic intensity in high school is proven to improve college completion over any other factor and is a key measure of success.

Equal Opportunity Schools has worked with over 540 schools in 29 states to help more than 38,000 (and counting) students from underserved backgrounds get placed—and succeed—in rigorous academic programs for the first time.

“We are proud to be recognized for this critical, and often overlooked work. We hope this news cycle sheds light on the systemic changes our country must make and the importance of this work,” said Kia Franklin, Senior Director, Partnerships. “This is the time to keep investing in young people. The realities faced by students from marginalized and underserved backgrounds is not new and nor are the solutions. This is a reminder that we can must address the deep inequities in our education system.”

Senior Director of Partnerships, Kia Franklin is available for media comment upon request. EOS can provide additional background information and data on systemic inequities to interested media.

Key Data Points About the System

  • The AP/IB equity gap is a national problem, impacting three-quarters of a million students each year who are prepared to succeed in rigorous courses but are overlooked due to their demographics, limited information, or a false notion about who belongs in classes that will prepare them for the future.
  • According to Education Trust, nearly 650,000 students of color and low-income students are “missing” from challenging, high-school coursework each school year (2013).
  • Research from Cliff Adelman demonstrated that academic intensity in high school drives college completion more than any other factor.
  • 73% of all jobs require more than a high school degree, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
  • People without a college education are less likely to have a job than their college-educated peers (Georgetown Center on Education and the Workforce), and the likelihood of them being employed has decreased since 2015 (67% of high school-only grads age 25-64 were employed in 2015, down from 73% in 2007. During the same time period, Same aged college grads: employment only went from 84 to 83%).

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About Equal Opportunity Schools
Equal Opportunity Schools’ mission is to ensure students of all backgrounds have equal access to America’s most academically intense high school programs, and particularly that students of color and low-income students have opportunities to succeed at the highest levels. The nonprofit organization’s partnership model is consultative, collaborative, and requires a commitment to specific and measurable results. Since its incorporation in 2010, EOS has helped more than 540 schools identify tens of thousands of students of color and low-income students who qualify for – but are missing from – Advanced Placement or other rigorous levels of coursework. EOS is headquartered in Seattle, Washington.

For more information, contact:
Tofa McCormick | Marketing Communications Manager | Tofa@EOSchools.org | 206.790.2940

Download the Press Release

Deb Merle Appointed as Interim CEO

EOS Board of Directors Appoints Deb Merle as Interim CEO

Seattle, WA January 28, 2019 – The EOS Board of Directors is very pleased to announce that Debora (Deb) Merle begins today as the Interim CEO for EOS. She replaces Reid Saaris who is stepping down as CEO effective February 1, 2019.

We are fortunate to have an Interim CEO who has passion for our work, unique qualifications for the role, and a highly collaborative style. During Deb’s career in public education research, advocacy and policy making, she worked to advance equity with a particular focus on how best to equip students of color and low-income students for success in college. She was instrumental in the development and implementation of statewide programs that made demonstrable differences in the lives of students in Washington state. Deb has also earned a reputation for ensuring smooth operations as an interim leader of educational organizations during times of significant transition.

Deb Merle said, “Equal Opportunity Schools is an amazing organization full of people dedicated to improving the lives of students of color and low-income students by ensuring access to rigorous high school programs that will prepare them well for college. I’m honored to have been chosen to lead the team during this transition and can’t wait to get started.”

Deb Merle will serve as the Interim CEO until a permanent CEO is hired in the next six to nine months. Reid Saaris will continue to support the organization though his ongoing work with the Board and as an external advisor.

About Equal Opportunity Schools

EOS’s mission is to ensure students of all backgrounds have equal access to America’s most academically intense high school programs, and particularly that low-income students and students of color have opportunities to succeed at the highest levels. The nonprofit organization’s partnership model is consultative, collaborative, and requires a commitment to specific and measurable results. Since its incorporation in 2010, EOS has helped more than 540 schools across 29 states identify tens of thousands of low-income students and students of color who qualify for – but are missing from – Advanced Placement or other rigorous levels of coursework. EOS is headquartered in Seattle, Washington. www.eoschools.org.

For more information, contact:
Tofa McCormick | Marketing Communications Manager | Tofa@EOSchools.org

Download the Press Release
View Deb Merle’s Bio

Reid Saaris to Step Down as CEO

The EOS Board of Directors Announces that CEO and Founder, Reid Saaris, Will Step Down to Take A New Role Supporting EOS

Seattle, WA., January 11, 2019  – The Board of Directors for Equal Opportunity Schools (EOS) announced today that the nonprofit agency’s CEO and Founder, Reid Saaris, has decided to step down as CEO effective February 1, 2019, beginning an orderly leadership transition that will take place over the next six to nine months.

Saaris has led a remarkable career, first as a teacher and administrator, and then as an entrepreneur founding EOS so that students of all backgrounds have equal access to America’s most academically intense high school programs, particularly low-income students and students of color. Under Saaris’ leadership, EOS now partners with more than 540 schools and 180 school districts across 29 states, developing systems to ensure that all capable students are enrolling and succeeding in the high school classes that will best prepare them to achieve their college, career, and life readiness goals.

“Reid has dedicated his professional life to establishing EOS and enabling schools to provide more equal access to rigorous curriculum for all students. The board is grateful for his dedication and exemplary tenure as the organization’s CEO since 2010. We are elated that Reid will continue to support the organization though his ongoing work with our Board and as an external advisor for EOS, ensuring a smooth leadership transition,” said Dr. Deborah Wilds, EOS Board President.

During Reid’s tenure, EOS experienced unprecedented growth, service expansion, and national recognition. Both the New Schools Venture Fund and the Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation recognized his entrepreneurial strength with awards. He was also a recipient of fellowships from the Stanford Center of Social Innovation and Echoing Green.

“I’ve been privileged to lead EOS, an innovative organization recognized for its equity work in schools across the country,” said Reid Saaris. “I have a hard time imagining a more meaningful professional experience than this one has been – to build something profoundly impactful with a team I have learned so much from. Though founders are often credited with the ‘big idea,’ this idea was never mine. This work has been – and will continue to be – about the lived experiences of close to a million students each year who are overlooked and underestimated for no good reason.”

Saaris continued, “Today at EOS, we have a clear strategic vision for the future, passionate professionals on staff, a strong financial foundation, and significant partners dedicated to our mission. Our goal now is to build on this momentum and to scale our impact up to the size of the national need with new leadership. As part of this transition, I will continue to support EOS and its partners as we build for the future.”

The board of directors has formed a search committee and is leading a two-phase selection process to initially choose an interim CEO to start in early 2019, and then a national search for a permanent CEO. The search will be open to a diverse set of internal and external candidates.

History Behind the Creation of EOS
Equal Opportunity Schools’ mission was born in a high school hallway that divided two friends. A young Reid Saaris was fast-tracked into advanced courses that would prepare him for college. Yet his equally bright best friend, who came from a lower-income background, was relegated to less challenging courses. Saaris went on to college at Duke, Harvard, and Stanford while his friend spent the next decade-and-a-half working to make up for the lost opportunity of advanced-level courses. The impact of that simple scheduling decision haunted Saaris as he went on to become a high school teacher in South Carolina.

As a young high school teacher, Reid helped one of his students switch into advanced-level courses after recognizing that this student was capable of more rigorous coursework. This intervention had a direct impact on the student’s educational trajectory. Inspired by this student, Reid’s initiative to find all the “missing students” doubled the size of his school’s AP and IB program, and tripled the number of African-American students in advanced classes. The success rate for all students on the exams went up by 20%.

In partnership with the College Board, the International Baccalaureate, the U.S. Department of Education, and the Education Trust, Reid conducted in-depth research. The analysis revealed that while African-American, Latino, and low-income students are about as likely as their white or upper-income peers to attend schools that offer AP and IB courses, roughly three-quarters of a million miss out every year. Nearly twelve years ago, Reid began the work to create the best tools, analysis, and services to find and enroll those students. Today, EOS has solutions that are personalized for each school, addressing the epidemic of missing students from college readiness courses.

About Equal Opportunity Schools
EOS’s mission is to ensure students of all backgrounds have equal access to America’s most academically intense high school programs, and particularly that low-income students and students of color have opportunities to succeed at the highest levels. The nonprofit organization’s partnership model is consultative, collaborative, and requires a commitment to specific and measurable results. Since its incorporation in 2010, EOS has helped more than 540 schools across 29 states identify tens of thousands of low-income students and students of color who qualify for – but are missing from – Advanced Placement or other rigorous levels of coursework. EOS is headquartered in Seattle, Washington. www.eoschools.org.

For more information, contact:
Tofa McCormick | Marketing Communications Manager | Tofa@EOSchools.org

Download the Press Release 
View Reid Saaris’ Bio

Illinois Chosen To Close Equity Gaps in Top Courses, Maryland Selected & Commits for 2017 Launch

SEATTLE, WA–Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner and Illinois Superintendent of Education Tony Smith are erasing a dividing line over racial and income inequity in high school AP & IB courses. The State of Illinois will become the first state in the US to partner with the Lead Higher Initiative in a statewide challenge to close equity gaps for lower income students and students of color in its high schools’ most rigorous courses. Continue reading “Illinois Chosen To Close Equity Gaps in Top Courses, Maryland Selected & Commits for 2017 Launch”

Education leaders commit more than $100M to enroll 100,000 new low-income students and students of color in advanced academic classes

WASHINGTON, D.C.—A consortium of education, philanthropy and business leaders announced today commitments to spend a combined $100 million over three years to identify and enroll 100,000 low-income students and students of color in Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB) high school classes across the country. Continue reading “Education leaders commit more than $100M to enroll 100,000 new low-income students and students of color in advanced academic classes”