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Black Minds Matter, a leading advocate for K-12 educational reform and empowerment within the Black community, is proud to announce the selection of 16 distinguished Black School Founders and educational leaders for the inaugural cohort of the McLeod Society Fellowship, named in tribute to the pioneering educator Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune.

These fellows have been selected for their unwavering dedication to fostering educational excellence, freedom, and innovative contributions to their communities. The fellowship will provide these leaders with opportunities for advocacy training, media engagement, financial support, and networking with a commitment to uplifting the educational experiences and outcomes of Black students nationwide.

“I am honored to announce educators that have been handpicked for their unwavering dedication to fostering not only education freedom, but community empowerment,” said Denisha Allen, Founder of Black Minds Matter and Senior Fellow at the American Federation for Children.

“The McLeod Society Fellowship will embolden them with the key tools 
necessary to further enhance advocacy, help raise standards, and improve the success rate for African American students.”


The McLeod Society Fellowship by Black Minds Matter fosters champions for education freedom and amplifies the voices and impact of Black school founders and their schools. This pioneering initiative empowers and elevates Black school founders and key educational leaders. The fellowship offers a unique platform for fellows to engage in national/state-level advocacy, receive media training for heightened public engagement, and become part of a strong network of change-makers in the field of education.

This fellowship aims to:

  • Influence state-level school choice policymakers and policy through developing grassroots support and understanding of the importance of the issue.
  • Enhance media coverage (both traditional and social) surrounding education freedom, especially in the Black community.
  • Boost peer connections among Black school founders and leaders.


  • Media & Public Engagement: Receive media training and gain valuable media exposure.
  • National & State-Level Advocacy: Help advocate for increased freedom in education and change the narrative of school choice.
  • Financial Support: A $5,000 stipend, along with support for school promotional activities.
  • All-expense paid trips: Network with peers during at least two all-expense paid trips.

2024 In-person meeting dates are as follows:

  • Summer Training: June 4-7th: Washington, D.C.
  • National Black Minds Matter Summit: October 2-4th: Nashville, TN

Meet the Inaugural Cohort of the McLeod Society Fellowship

Cameron Frazier, Founder of Becoming Collegiate Academy, Florida

Janelle Wood, Founder of the Black Mothers Forum, Arizona 

Antoine Green, Founder of Patrick Henry School of Science and Arts, Virginia 

Coi Morefield, Founder of The Lab School of Memphis, Tennessee 

Joel Enge, Founder of Kingdom Life Academy, Texas

Atasha James, Founder of Legends Charter School, Maryland

Arianne Craige Jolla, Founder of Cash Academy, Louisiana

Dr. LaDonna Griffin, Founder of Leaders to Legends, Nebraska

Mrs. Pamela Rogers, St. Mary’s Academy, Louisiana

Monica Hall, Founder of T.H.R.I.V.E Academy, Georgia 

Apryl Shackelford, Founder of a Primer Microschool, Florida 

Julie Ravenell, Founder of Avant Schools, Florida 

Shomari James, Founder of Legends Charter School, Maryland

Dr. Kimberly Townsend, Founder of The Leadership School, Missouri 

Briana Gilchrist, Board Member at Marion P. Thompson Academy, New Jersey


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