Skillman Foundation Launches Visionary Awards to Honor Detroit’s Education Innovators

The Skillman Foundation has introduced the Skillman Visionary Awards program, aimed at honoring Detroit’s transformative education leaders. This initiative highlights individuals who are reimagining education to meet community needs and aspirations, reflecting the Foundation’s commitment to fostering innovation and collaboration in the education sector.

The Skillman Visionary Awards program will provide $50,000 unrestricted awards to ten individuals. These awards recognize changemakers who are redefining education in Detroit. The awardees come from various sectors, including school districts, grassroots organizations, and community advocacy, all committed to creating a more equitable education system.

Meet the inaugural class of the Skillman Visionary Awards:

  • Sherisse Butler, Senior Vice President & Executive Director, City Year Detroit
  • Dr. Sirrita Darby, Founder, Detroit Heals Detroit
  • Jerjuan Howard, Founder, Umoja Debate League
  • Jenell Mansfield, Political & Legislative Coordinator, American Federation of Teachers-Michigan
  • Silver Moore, Humanities Instructional Coach, University Prep Schools; Founder, Classroom Clapback
  • Rev. Larry Simmons, Sr., Executive Director, Brightmoor Alliance
  • Dr. Nikolai Vitti, Superintendent, Detroit Public Schools Community District
  • Marisol Bien Teachworth Walton, Co-Lead, Detroit Summer; Director of Youth Development, Detroit Hispanic Development Corporation
  • Dawn Wilson-Clark, Parent Organizer, Jonathon and Dawn Clark Health & Healing Center
  • Juanita Zuniga, Lead Youth Organizer, 482Forward

These leaders are educators, innovators, advocates, and community builders who are making significant contributions to Detroit’s educational landscape.

“Detroit is a place of visionaries who are working to innovatively transform our education system,” said Angelique Power, president & CEO of The Skillman Foundation. “The Skillman Visionary Awards shine a light on these stars. We want them to know that we see them; they are making a difference, and we need them to keep going. It is going to take all of us, from grassroots to grasstops, to modernize the education system.”

The Skillman Visionary Awards program aligns with several key aims integral to the Foundation’s mission and People Powered Education strategy:

  1. Uplifting Visionary Change: The Foundation seeks to spotlight and support those whose transformative work is crucial to the community’s progress.
  2. Expanding Voices in Policymaking: The awards aim to amplify the voices of those with firsthand experience in the education system. By investing in policy advocacy, the Foundation ensures that the insights and ideas of Detroiters influence the future of education.
  3. Elevating Visionaries’ Stories: Through strategic storytelling and platform-usage, the program will amplify the awardees’ voices, fostering collaboration and inspiration within the community.
  4. Expanding Philanthropic Tools: This initiative represents a strategic expansion of the Foundation’s philanthropic approach, allowing for direct support to individuals driving impactful change in education.

“These awards not only celebrate past achievements but also serve as an investment in the future of education in Detroit,” added Power. “By recognizing their achievements and providing unrestricted support, we hope to catalyze further innovation and progress in education across our city.”

The Skillman Foundation’s new initiative is designed to support continued innovation. As these visionary leaders are recognized and supported, Detroit’s educational landscape will continue to evolve, reflecting the diverse needs and aspirations of its community. The Skillman Visionary Awards program stands as a reminder that change is possible when leadership and community collaboration come together to transform education.

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