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When Entrepreneurship Meets Education

  • Richard Pelayo (Bay Area ’08), serves as the managing director, GO Public Schools West Contra Costa, and is a Venture Fellow and Venture Fund recipient who lives in West Contra County, Calif.

West Contra Costa County, where I taught for four years, is one of the lowest performing school districts in the state of California. I didn't see anyone in the community organizing parents, schools leaders  or neighbors around equitable solutions for our students, but felt increasingly certain that it must happen in order for our region to live up to its obligation to our students.

In January 2016, I decided to step up by launching a venture that will move the needle on educational equity; GO Public Schools West Contra Costa is a coalition of families, educators, and community leaders who organize, align, inform and develop leaders to advance policies and practices that ensure that every child receives a quality education.

Through the Venture Fund and Fellowship, I’ve received leadership coaching and expert advice while gaining the skills it takes to publicly launch this venture.

We need more entrepreneurs from underrepresented communities leading ventures to improve outcomes for our students. I am frequently in rooms where I’m the only Latino sitting at the table—in a district serving a majority of Latinx students and families. While I still have many years ahead of me before I become great at this, I know we need to fight for a seat in the room now.

Leading up to the public launch of GO West Contra Costa, Richard became a LEE Venture Fellow. The fellowship allowed him access to leadership and technical assistance coaching, pro bono supports, expert advice, and a cohort of like-minded venture leaders. In addition, Richard received $50,000 from LEE in seed funding. While a Venture Fellow, he’s hired two full time staff members, secured and activated a nine-person leadership council for West Contra Costa, conducted 50 one-on-one relational meetings with leaders in West Contra Costa, and has launched a communications campaign and website with resources for parents and educators.

The Venture Fund & Fellowship is designed to offer strategic and financial support to LEE members like you who are planning or have already started innovative civic ventures to further educational equity. Submit a pre-application today.

“I have a deep appreciation for the support from the Venture Fellowship staff and LEE staff supporters.” – Richard Pelayo