Journeys To Success

More than 475 educational access professionals traveled from across the country to join us in Cambridge for the National Partnership for Educational Access (NPEA) Annual Conference.

A perennial opportunity for likeminded individuals to network, share best practices, and get to know one another, this year’s conference – entitled Journeys To Success: Equity And Access For All Students – was especially exciting as NPEA celebrated its tenth anniversary. Highlights included:

Workshops, Panels, and Exhibitors

120 presenters from organizations and educational institutions from across the country led panel discussions and workshops on topics like: “Hidden Talent: Supporting Women in STEM”; “Identity Development and Spoken Word Poetry: Using Students’ Life Experiences To Promote Change”; “Diverse Perspectives on SAT Preparation: Lessons from a D.C. Partnership”; “Focusing on Alumni: How Data Can Change Programming and Enhance Learning”; and “Building An Organizational Learning Culture From the Inside Out.” In addition, a number of organizations had tables set up where conference attendees could learn more about their important work.

Keynote Speeches

Each year, distinguished speakers in the field of education share their insights with the wider conference audience. This year’s speakers were:

Stella Flores

Stella Flores
Flores joked with audience members during her enlightening speech.

Stella Flores, an Associate Professor of Higher Education at New York University and the Director of Access and Equity at NYU’s Steinhardt Institute for Higher Education Policy, spoke about education inequality in the United States and the importance of data in understanding and remedying the current state of education. She stated, “Understanding inequality in this country cannot be done by just studying income,” pointing out that factors like race can also play a role. One conference attendee Tweeted, “As an immigrant and NYC native,  talk is resonating with me. The immigrant experience continues to mold lives.”

Paul Tough

After his speech, Paul Tough signed copies of his bestselling book for conference attendees.

The author of Helping Children Succeed: What Works and Why, Tough spoke about the ways in which adversity and educational disparities can affect students in the long run and how educators can help students cope with life’s challenges. He noted, “We know a lot about how to teach math and reading, but not grit,” and stated that students who persevere are the ones who understand four key messages: they belong, they can succeed, they can work hard and it will pay off, and they have a purpose.

Christopher Emdin

Christopher Emdin brought the house down as he concluded the conference with a rousing keynote address.

The conference concluded with a keynote speech from Emdin, a professor at Teachers College Columbia University and the author of For White Folks Who Teach in the Hood…and the Rest of Y’all Too. Emdin fired up the crowd as he drove home the importance of integrating students’ upbringings and cultural backgrounds into the classroom. Rather than seeing themselves as saviors of troubled youth, Emdin said, educators need to understand their students’ innate strength and value: “If you are truly invested in engaging young folk about college access, the work has to begin first with seeing them as inherently brilliant from the beginning.”

Evening Receptions

In addition to taking advantage of more formal learning and networking opportunities, conference attendees had the chance to chat and mingle over hors d’oeuvres and cocktails during the Opening Night Welcome Reception and the NPEA 10th Anniversary Celebration.

As always, the conference flew by, but we left inspired and invigorated by the enthusiasm, intelligence, and passion of everyone who attended. We would like to thank our Platinum Sponsor and Lead Keynote Sponsor, The Boston Foundation, as well as all of the other generous sponsors who made this year’s conference possible.

NPEA’s hardworking staff and interns (l-r): Monique Hassel, Afua Laast, Karin Elliott, Carrie Tate, Franny Hock, and Zeva Levine

We hope to see you in New Orleans next year!

NPEA is an initiative of The Steppingstone Foundation. Interested in learning more or becoming a member? Visit their website!

All photos by Sam Moody Photography.