Eddie’s Story of Untapped Potential

Equal Opportunity Schools’ CEO, Eddie Lincoln

At Equal Opportunity Schools, we believe that unraveling unconscious bias is fundamental to ensuring that every student has the opportunity to thrive academically. When students do not have a trusted adult in their lives—one who sees all they are capable of—or a system that identifies their potential, they are often left behind.

My friends and I experienced this phenomenon first-hand growing up in the diverse community of South Seattle. Throughout middle and high school, I was a standout athlete, particularly on the basketball court. Sports were celebrated with fanfare in my community, a place that produced half a dozen NBA players in the early 2000s.

Reflecting, I can see that the support I received for athletic achievement differed from what I received for academic success. I was not encouraged to take upper-level courses. In some cases, I was even deterred from doing so. When I think of my close-knit group of six friends, I recognize none of us had the nurturing and academic guidance we deserved.

The work I do now has made me realize that I was boxed in as an athlete and not encouraged to become the scholar-athlete I knew I could be. I lost motivation in high school because I did not feel challenged in the classroom. Consequently, my GPA declined.

Even though I did not reach my full potential in high school, my sports acumen helped me get into a good college. However, I was not prepared for undergraduate coursework. I was frustrated to find myself in remedial classes, grappling with skills I should have already mastered.

I experienced a turning point when I met a professor named Jodi Kelly. Jodi was wonderful. She recognized my potential and discussed my struggles with me. She became my trusted advisor, helping me fill my skills gap. Jodi believed I could do extraordinary things. As part of her guidance, she introduced me to two African American law professors who encouraged me to attend law school. After this meeting, I reached out to my childhood basketball coach, Kevin Davis who I recalled had a law degree. He explained the long-lasting benefit of such a degree and said be believed I could be successful as an attorney.

Jodi and Kevin’s support propelled me to attend the Thurgood Marshall School of Law at Texas Southern University. There, I earned my Juris Doctorate.

I stay connected with my childhood friends. Each of us has overcome the challenges in our childhood to live a successful and fulfilling life. A lack of opportunities, exposure, and academic encouragement from adults forced us to develop resilience to get to where we are today.

In 2014, I joined Equal Opportunity Schools, driven by the conviction that every student, regardless of their background or circumstances, deserves support and nurturing to excel in the classroom and beyond. Each student deserves the ecosystem of support that Jodi provided me.

Our mission is deeply personal because I have lived through the disparity it seeks to rectify. Had my friends and I had EOS when we were growing up, I am confident we would have achieved greater and earlier academic success. Every student should have the chance to unleash their full potential, both on the court and in the classroom.

About the author: Eddie Lincoln is the Chief Executive Officer at Equal Opportunity Schools. Prior to this role, he served as the Assistant Director for K-12 Partnerships as part of the Seattle University Youth Initiative. Eddie has a B.A. in Communication Studies from Seattle University and a J.D. from the Thurgood Marshall School of Law.