The school system in Atlanta was created less than 10 years after the formal end of slavery to provide free education to white students. The city-run public school system in Atlanta did not consider Black students’ education needs. Free schools to educate Black students were established several years earlier, in 1866, by the Freedmen’s Bureau. The system has remained mostly unchanged for well over 120 years, even with changes to the law and policies.
More recent efforts to improve public education in Atlanta stalled in 2009 as a mass cheating scandal exposed deep issues within the district. As a result, local education funders and the business community lost significant confidence in the district and were generally wary of financially supporting public schools.
Starting in 2011, many of these funders began meeting regularly to discuss how best to reinvigorate efforts to improve public education in Atlanta and address systemic inequities. One significant result of these meetings was forming a new entity to serve as an independent and trusted partner to advocate for and fund efforts to improve public school outcomes in Atlanta.
Ed Chang serves as the founding executive director. Since its launch, the organization has expanded its team and built a diverse board to engage with communities, listen and learn, and advocate for equity in education.