Equity-focused education champion Andrea Zayas tapped to launch and lead new youth-development intermediary in New Orleans
This new organization comes out of recommendations from the YouthShift Initiative, a community-driven initiative working to improve outcomes for children and youth in New Orleans — with the ultimate goal of supporting youth-serving organizations and programs to reach their goals for positive youth outcomes.
New Orleans — Andrea Zayas has been hired as the founding director for a new youth-development intermediary organization in New Orleans, the result of a collaborative effort by Foundation for Louisiana (FFL) and community leaders.
This new organization comes out of recommendations from the YouthShift Initiative, a community-driven initiative working to improve outcomes for children and youth in New Orleans — with the ultimate goal of supporting youth-serving organizations and programs to reach their goals for positive youth outcomes. Priorities of this intermediary also include:
· Incorporating a racial equity and social justice lens and involving young people and community leaders throughout all of its work.
· Working across organizations to develop shared policy agendas.
· Advocating with stakeholders and decision-makers to protect and increase resources for youth-focused community organizations.
· Increasing quality programming for more young people. The NOLA Youth Program Quality Initiative will become part of the intermediary, where it will continue to expand it reach to more youth workers and organizations.
“Andrea’s hiring represents a new set of possibilities as we forge new partnerships and approaches to support the healthy development of all of our children in New Orleans,” said FFL President and CEO Flozell Daniels, Jr. “Our process for hiring the founding director builds on the many community-focused conversations we’ve had over the past few years. We involved a diverse group of community leaders, including young people, in the search. All of that input led us to choosing Ms. Zayas.”
Zayas will bring her vast experience as a grassroots education and social justice leader to this new project.
“I am inspired by the intention to center racial equity to develop the capacity of youth serving organizations and the commitment that FFL and partners have to increasing the most important life outcomes for the young people of New Orleans,” Zayas said. “I believe that by centering equity as we develop leadership, build strong infrastructure, advance youth-focused policy, and crisply define quality in partnership with youth, we can create the change our young people deserve. I intend to apply my teaching, start-up and leadership experiences to develop a national model for fostering a thriving ecosystem of the highest-quality youth-serving organizations.”
Zayas has dedicated herself to solving the seemingly intractable challenges school organizations and communities face. She founded Upstream Education Consulting to support school organizations in New Orleans including Algiers Charter School Association, New Beginnings Schools Foundation, Bricolage and Success Preparatory Academy. Previously, she served as the national director of regional leadership development for the Knowledge is Power Program (KIPP) and as a turnaround superintendent in Camden, N.J. Andrea founded and led La Cima Elementary, a thriving community-based charter school that serves 400 K-5 students in Brooklyn, N.Y. Earlier in her career, Andrea partnered with community organizations to start-up several community-based schools at LearnNow and was a classroom teacher in the South Bronx.
Zayas earned her Bachelor of Arts degree at Rutgers University, an Ed.M. at Harvard Graduate School of Education, and is pursuing her doctorate in Urban Education Leadership at Xavier University of Louisiana.
The start-up for the new intermediary is made possible through the generous support of Baptist Community Ministries, Campbell Foundation, Cricket Island Foundation, Greater New Orleans Foundation and United Way of Southeast Louisiana.
“Ms. Zayas shows that she really cares about young people and is really interested in having us be a part of this new organization. We trust her when she says that she’ll always keep young people’s point of view in mind and always learn from the community,” said Kyra Haywood, a founding member the EMPLOY Youth Action Team at the Cowen Institute.
About the New Youth Development Intermediary
In September 2016, the YouthShift steering committee released its final report, “Answering the Call for Connection,” which prioritized its recommendation for the creation of this new intermediary organization to support youth serving organizations in the city. A broad group of community stakeholders were involved over four years in actions to identify the key outcomes for young people of all ages, resources required to support those outcomes, and data about how well our children and youth are faring. An additional outgrowth of this work was The Data Center’s Youth Index, which provides a snapshot of youth outcomes in New Orleans and used as a measuring stick for changes in youth outcomes from year to year.