Civic Engagement, Economic Mobility, Education

New Profit Invests in Four Organizations Advancing Democracy, Economic Mobility, and Education in America

New Profit has just invested $1.5 million each in four remarkable organizations dedicated to advancing democracy, economic mobility, and education in America. Dive into the transformative work of the Center for Black Educator Development, Generation Citizen, OneGoal, and Surge Institute as they lead the charge towards a more equitable society. Learn how these visionary leaders are making a difference and shaping the future of our nation.

February 9, 2024

New Profit is thrilled to announce investments of $1.5 million each in four nonprofit organizations driving transformational change in democracy, economic mobility, and education in America. These organizations, led by visionary entrepreneurs, are centering the assets, expertise, and aspirations of the communities they serve, aligning with New Profit’s mission to build an America where everyone can thrive. 

This unrestricted funding is coupled with strategic advisory support through a four-year term to help each organization deepen its impact, broaden its scale, and drive systems-level change. Keep reading to learn more about each organization:

Center for Black Educator Development 

The Center for Black Educator Development is rebuilding the national Black teacher pipeline to support quality education for all students. 

Research shows when Black students have Black educators, they perform better in school as measured by grades, test scores, graduation rates, and college enrollment. Yet, most Black students will attend 13 years of public school without having a single Black educator. The Center for Black Educator Development believes that the root cause of this disparity traces back to the aftermath of Brown v. Board (1954), which led to the systemic displacement of Black educators, which continues to impact Black educators today. Black educators face less than accommodating working conditions at high-poverty, harder-to-staff schools, are expected to take on added work in addition to their instructional responsibilities and have little to no support systems available to them at their schools. The majority of Black educators navigate their experience in isolation, resulting in Black educators leaving the workforce at higher rates than their White peers.

Sharif El-Mekki is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of the Center for Black Educator Development.  Sharif spent 30 years as an educator at Black public schools and as the only Black man leading a classroom full-time in his school of 60+ teachers, he experienced the transformative impact of Black teachers on Black students and lived the Black student-teacher disparity that his organization now seeks to rectify. Its mission of developing teachers to be effective in relating to and educating Black children is grounded in Sharif’s personal experiences growing up as a child of a family of activists, a student at an African Free School, best practices from Black pedagogical frameworks, and a realization that educational and racial justice are intrinsically linked.

The Center for Black Educator Development’s core program is the Black Teacher Pipeline (BTP) Initiative, which develops and supports Black high school students interested in teaching over a twelve-year timespan from ninth grade through their fourth year of teaching. The organization also features a professional learning division that develops culturally responsive, affirming, and sustaining teaching. It also forms partnerships to advocate for systemic promotion of teacher diversity and cultural pedagogy at all levels of government.

In under five years, the Center for Black Educator Development has impacted approximately 11,000 individuals through direct initiatives in their Teaching Pathways, Professional Learning, and Policy & Advocacy pillars. More specifically, in their Teaching Academy (high-school CTE course), 357 students, with 93% identifying as Black/Brown, participated. 

The Center for Black Educator Development’s Freedom Schools Literacy Academy (FSLA), a five-week summer program for college and high school students interested in becoming educators, has seen success in recent years. Since 2019, the FSLA program has reached 388 total teacher apprentices who are high school, college, and graduate-school students – a nearly 300% increase in 4 years. 

Additionally, the organization’s #Weneedblackteachers social media campaign has helped to encourage Black high school and college students to pursue teaching careers and support rebuilding the Black teacher pipeline.

Generation Citizen 

Generation Citizen is transforming how civics is taught by providing real-world civics education with an equity-centered approach.

Generation Citizen is helping prepare the citizenry of our future to ensure students are skilled and ready to build our multiracial, multiethnic democracy. Our current democratic system is under siege. Public trust in democracy is decreasing, while our political culture has become increasingly polarized — marked by a surge in divisive discourse and states’ outright rejection of teaching honest history and civics through anti-democratic legislation. Despite our education system’s responsibility to prepare youth for citizenship, civics education remains under-prioritized in schools, and we are seeing the consequences of this approach today.

Elizabeth “Liz” Clay Roy began her tenure as Chief Executive Officer of Generation Citizen in January of 2021, just before the insurrection took place in the United States Capitol. That day exposed the fragility of democratic norms and Liz felt greater urgency that real-world civics education was necessary for the rising generation to strengthen democracy. Through Liz’s three years of leadership, she has sought to guide GC to meet this moment for our country, recognizing education as fundamental to building a thriving, multiracial democracy. 

Generation Citizen has a multi-faceted approach to its work. The organization partners with schools and school districts to implement its signature Community-based Action Civics curriculum in classrooms through teacher training and coaching, prioritizing school communities that have not historically had access to quality civic learning. Generation Citizen also provides leadership development and advocacy training to young people who are Generation Citizen alumni, preparing them to participate in coalitions and policy campaigns. Generation Citizen is an America Forward coalition member, and advocates for the equitable adoption and funding of civics education in schools, increased resources for high-quality teacher professional development, and for increased student voice and decision-making in policymaking at the state and federal level. 

Generation Citizen’s Community-based Action Civics curriculum has positively impacted the academic engagement, civic knowledge, and social-emotional learning of its students. Of the students who took an Action Civics class in the 2021-2022 school year, 92% showed confidence in Civic Skills while 93% were confident in creating a plan to address a problem. Understanding civics paired with the ability to think critically is essential to developing a generation of citizens who can affect real change. 


OneGoal is leading the movement to transform postsecondary advising and support.

OneGoal started with the understanding that high-quality postsecondary advising has an outsized influence on a student’s trajectory to graduate high school and attend college. Yet only 22% of young people from low-income backgrounds currently earn a postsecondary degree (associate’s or bachelor’s) compared to 67% of their peers from high-income areas. In response, OneGoal developed a program designed to bring the depth of advising support readily available to students in affluent communities to students with the lowest-income backgrounds in schools lacking the capacity to deliver enriching and thorough guidance to their students. Closing this opportunity gap is a critical social driver of economic mobility, as pursuing a postsecondary pathway increases the likelihood of higher lifetime earnings, social mobility, and long-term job security. 

Melissa Connelly is the Chief Executive Officer of OneGoal, a role she assumed in 2019 after serving as the organization’s Chief Program Officer, where she led OneGoal’s programmatic vision centered on student identity and purpose. As CEO, Melissa is guiding OneGoal through its most significant growth phase ever as it develops scalable solutions that allow the organization to expand its reach through state- and district-level partnerships. OneGoal is a graduate of New Profit’s Widespread Impact Collaborative, which concluded in the fall of 2023.  

OneGoal’s flagship classroom-based program prioritizes Title I schools and districts with large populations of students from low-income households (with minimal exceptions where there are significant equity gaps within a school). This three-year program pairs one teacher with a cohort of 25-30 students (“Fellows”). This program begins in the Fellow’s junior year of high school, and the program directors help bridge the transition of their Fellows’ chosen postsecondary program by continuing to offer personalized support for a year after high school. Its cohort model intends to provide a peer support community so students know they are not alone in navigating the transition to postsecondary education.

In April 2022, the University of Chicago Inclusive Economy Lab conducted a quasi-experimental impact evaluation of OneGoal’s flagship classroom-based program, finding evidence that OneGoal has a positive and statistically significant effect on postsecondary enrollment, persistence, and graduation. OneGoal Fellows are 46% more likely to enroll in college than peers from similar backgrounds, 47% more likely to persist than peers from similar backgrounds, and 40% more likely to graduate from college than peers from similar backgrounds.

Surge Institute 

Surge Institute educates and develops leaders of color who create transformative change for young people, their families, and our broader communities.

Surge Institute understands that leaders of color are critical to driving positive change and shaping the future of organizations, institutions, and communities. However, while over 50% of America’s students are children of color, only 25% of our system’s teachers and leaders are people of color. This results in solutions developed by leaders who do not share the same lived experience as their students, consequently leading to ineffective educational and disciplinary strategies that can create unnecessary hardships for students of color.

Carmita Semaan, an alumna of New Profit’s 2017 Proximity Accelerator, is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Surge Institute. Carmita’s transition from corporate America to public education nearly two decades ago left her astounded by the underrepresentation of diverse executive leadership within the sector. This observation and her personal experiences fueled her mission of investing in leaders of color and working to transform the systems that have underserved Black and Brown students. One of Carmita’s areas of expertise is supporting the genius of emerging and seasoned leaders, particularly women and people of color, and shining a light on the brilliance and ingenuity that is too often overlooked and untapped in solving systemic issues. Carmita channeled this expertise in the formation of Surge Institute to increase educational equity for students of color by developing and advancing leaders of color in the educational space. The Surge Institute’s programs, which are cohort-based experiences that nurture the heads, hearts and souls of its fellows, have directly impacted leaders who are serving more than 3 million students.

Surge Institute’s programming identifies and elevates diverse talent across the educational sphere and equips them to transform the educational landscape through a unique leadership acceleration experience. This experience is curated to generate individual and collective transformation through exploring leadership narratives centered on the power and strength of one’s racial and ethnic identities. Leaders participating in Surge Institute’s programming gain executive skills like finance, strategic planning, and change management while having deep and unflinching dialogue about personal growth, trauma, and diversity, equity, and inclusion in America.

Surge Institute adds value to its program participants, with 99% reporting the Surge Fellowship met or exceeded their expectations. The organization has also excelled in its mission to advance the leaders within its network as 84% report that, because of Surge Institute, they have received additional leadership responsibilities, and 62% report they have begun making systems-level change that impacts large numbers of students, teachers, and schools.


These four organizations join a portfolio of nonprofit organizations led by visionary social entrepreneurs advancing opportunity in America. New Profit also recently invested in 8 organizations as a part of its Catalyze Civic Lab cohort and 16 organizations in its Catalyze Economic Mobility cohort. Each cohort is made up of early-stage social enterprises impacting democracy and economic mobility across the United States. Stay tuned for more investment announcements! 

About New Profit

New Profit is a venture philanthropy organization that backs social entrepreneurs who are advancing equity and opportunity in America. New Profit exists to build a bridge between these leaders and a community of philanthropists who are committed to catalyzing their impact. New Profit provides unrestricted grants and strategic support to a portfolio of organizations led by visionary social entrepreneurs to increase their impact, scale, and sustainability. It also partners with social entrepreneurs and other cross-sector leaders to shift how government and philanthropy pursue social change to ensure that all people can thrive. Since its founding in 1998, New Profit has invested over $350M in 250+ organizations and, through the America Forward Coalition’s collective advocacy efforts, has unlocked over $1.9B in government funding for social innovation. Learn more at

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Nikhil Gehani

Managing Partner, Communications