Throughout Chike Aguh’s (New York, ’06) career in education, he has been confronted with policies that don’t serve students. He says “more and more I realized -- to get to the outcomes I want for kids and families, we've got to figure out how we get different policies, get different choices, and -- at times -- get different actors.
Chike confronted this issue during his time in the LEE Public Leaders Fellowship (LPLF). He says:
"LPLF made me consider — who am I here to serve? It can be easy to lose sight of those people who are most impacted by educational inequity, but after the fellowship, I can’t do that. If I don’t do my job right, kids can’t do their homework, students can’t write their papers or even access online classes. The groups of people that I am seeking to serve are constantly on my mind now. I want social justice to be at the core of everything that I do."
Chike now serves as the Chief Programs Officer for an educational nonprofit named EveryoneOn after a decade-long career in education starting out on the district level in New York City working for Mayor Michael Bloomberg on issues related to vulnerable populations of students -- students who were homeless, about to drop out, pregnant, etc. This experience inspired him to enter the classroom, joining Teach For America in 2006 and teaching in Brooklyn, NY before entering the world of education technology at EveryoneOn, focusing on using “big data” to help community college students and closing the digital divide for low-income students.
“We believe that no matter who you are, no matter where you live, no matter what you look like,” he says, “you deserve access to the Internet and the opportunity that it provides.”
To date, EveryoneOn has connect over 600,000 low-income Americans by partnering with large service providers like Comcast and Sprint to come up with offers that families can afford as well as working with device manufacturers to get access to laptops and tablets, and then with online content providers like the College Board to make sure that there is quality content once those families get online.
When faced with barriers to achieving educational equity, Chike says, “don't be constrained by not having the right policy or the right staff or the right budget. [Ask] what do we want to do? And who are the people we can get in the room and try and do it?”