EOS’ Mission Statement
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 low-income students and students of color have opportunities to succeed at the highest levels.
When our highest learning opportunities are equitably accessible, our highest human potential is unbounded
EOS’ Core Values
- We are committed to the core principles of fairness, equity, and justice for our students, our partners and our employees
- We work to change the policies, practices and mindsets that stand in the way of equity and justice
- We strive to operate as an anti-racist organization where diversity is a an asset
- We pursue our mission with courage and urgency
- We hold ourselves to high standards and embrace ambitious goals to serve our clients- and the students they serve- with an unwavering belief in the power of change
- We believe in innovation, creativity and risk taking in order to reach our highest potential
- We embrace opportunities to learn and improve continuously, striving to be better as individuals, as teams and as an organization
- We are committed to being in true and lasting relationship with voices that have been previously marginalized and with the communities with which we partner
- We believe that together we are stronger with shared vision and common goals
- We treat each other with respect and dignity
Founders Story – our history
Opportunity proceeds achievement
Equal Opportunity Schools’ mission was born in a high school hallway that divided two friends. A young Reid Saaris, now the Executive Director at Equal Opportunity Schools, was fast-tracked into advanced courses that would prepare him for college. 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. His friend spent the next decade-and-a-half working to make up for the lost opportunity of advanced-level courses.
The profound impact of that simple scheduling decision haunted Saaris as he went on to become a high school teacher in South Carolina.
In Saaris’ second year of teaching, he encountered a student who was slated for lower-level courses (as were most of the African-American students in this school) but was clearly capable of much more. Saaris literally walked the student down to the school office to switch him to advanced-level courses. That low-tech, low-cost intervention changed the student’s life. He said, “I’ve accomplished things that I never thought I could. The truth is that not many people get the chance to move up – the Equal Opportunity Schools approach has given me the chance of a lifetime.”
Inspired by this student, the next year, as a part of Saaris’s administrative initiative to “find all the missing students”, the school’s AP and IB program doubled in size, and the number of African-American students in advanced classes tripled. And the success rate for all students on the rigorous, college-aligned AP and IB exams went up by 20%.
Such experiences led Saaris to conduct in-depth research with the College Board, the International Baccalaureate Organization, the U.S. Department of Education, and the Education Trust, revealing 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 Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB) courses, at least 750,000 of those who could handle the rigor miss out on such courses every year.
Moved by his high school experience and motivated by his research findings and by hundreds of low-income and minority students who were rising to the AP/IB challenge in pilot work in San Jose (2008-09), Saaris founded Equal Opportunity Schools.
Now, Equal Opportunity Schools partners with more than 540 school, 180 districts across 29 states and has worked with district, county, and state leaders around the country, identifying for enrollment thousands of “missing students” and developing systems to ensure these 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.