Teach For America 20th anniversary summit
Teach For America’s 20th anniversary summit presented an opportunity to pitch an entrepreneurial venture for $5,000 in seed funding. It was the first time Alejandro articulated his idea in public, first calling it “Summer Learning Initiative.” The last line of the pitch would eventually be the seed for the name change to “Springboard Collaborative”: “Let’s change the summer from a barrier into a springboard for our kids…”
Springboard’s pilot served 42 kids at Pan American Charter School, where Alejandro taught. Alejandro asked his then-girlfriend (now wife) Lisa to be the first Site Manager, a position we now call Site Leader. By the end of the pilot, students replaced the typical 3-month regression with a 3.2-month reading gain. Weekly parent workshops averaged 94% attendance. For the first time since November 28th two years prior, the problem finally felt solvable. What’s more, it felt solvable with the people and assets already within school communities.
In January of 2012, Springboard was granted 501c3 status by the IRS. We received pro bono legal representation from Dan Gershwin, who was a law student in Penn’s Entrepreneurship Legal Clinic.
A few courageous Philadelphia funders saw enough potential in Springboard to make seed investments. This included the M. Night Shyamalan Foundation, the Hamilton Foundation, the Fels Fund, and the Patricia Kind Family Foundation.
Shortly thereafter, Alejandro was honored as ‘one of the world’s best emerging social innovators’ by Echoing Green, a leading venture philanthropy firm that selected 20 fellows from 3,500 global applicants.