Charter School Trailblazers

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For more than 25 years, education’s most innovative community and school leaders have gone above and beyond to meet the needs of children in their community. The charter school supporters, coming from diverse racial, socio-economic, and political backgrounds, are united by their shared belief in the life-changing effect of a high-quality public education. Take a moment to meet those whom have paved the way for the charter school movement.

2022 Charter School Changemakers

During the 2022 National Charter Schools Week, we recognize 10 changemakers who have an outsized impact in their communities, our nation, and the world. Our changemakers include school leaders, teachers, parents, and advocates in the charter school community. Learn more about how they are changing our communities for the better. 

2021 30 Under 30 Changemakers Award

As part of National Charter Schools Week 2021: 30 Years Strongwe honor 30 exceptional young leaders who are connected in some way to charter schools and are using their ideas, talents, and platforms to affect change. The 30 Under 30 Changemaker awards shine a spotlight on individuals from across the country who are making a meaningful impact in their community and nationwide via Arts, Writing, and Sports; Education and Politics; Leadership; Science; and Social Justice.

2020 Above and Beyond Awards

Common Ground—a charter high school, urban farm, and environmental center in New Haven, Conn—delivers free, fresh produce directly to the doors of those in need. After having learned about the impending school closure mandate, Common Ground's farmers, development team, and volunteers got to work immediately to create their emergency farm share, making their first deliveries to 30 families on March 18. Since then, the program has grown to include fresh veggies and eggs from their on-site farm and other local farms, donated goods from partners, a bilingual message of support, and information about other food access sites. 

Common Ground High School, Connecticut

2019 Charter Schools Hall of Fame Awardee

Margaret Fortune is President/CEO of Fortune School. In 2010, under Fortune’s leadership, the organization launched a network of K-12 public charter schools in Sacramento and San Bernardino counties with the mission to close the African American achievement gap. The network currently includes seven public charter schools with a combined enrollment of more than 1,500 students.

2019 Champions for Charters Lifetime Achievement Award

As the ranking member of the House Education and Labor Committee, Congresswoman Foxx is clearly dedicated to supporting student’s in their educational endeavors and, given her background, it’s no surprise. She was the first member of her family to graduate from high school and went on to earn her bachelor’s degree and a MA in college teaching and a doctoral degree in education.

Ranking Member Virginia Foxx

2019 Charter School Leadership Awards

Charter school founder, current ABC/ESPN analyst, and former NBA star Jalen Rose received the inaugural Trailblazer Award for the Charter School Leadership Awards in 2019. His school, the Jalen Rose Leadership Academy, opened its doors in September 2011 and is an open enrollment, tuition-free, public charter high school on the Northwest side of Detroit. The Academy currently serves over 400 9th through 12th grade students and graduated its inaugural class in June 2015—100 percent of the Academy’s graduates have gained college, trade/technical school, or military acceptance.


Twenty years ago, as the U.S. Secretary of Education, then-Secretary Lamar Alexander wrote a letter to all the school superintendents in America urging them to try what a small number of Minnesota public schools were doing in what they were then calling startup schools. These were the first charter schools in America. Later, during his career in the Senate, Senator Alexander continued to support innovation in public education.

Senator Alexander was first recognized by the National Alliance as a “Champion for Charters” in 2007. As Chair of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) committee and a member of the Senate appropriations committee, Senator Alexander understands the value of charter schools and works hard to ensure more students have access to a high-quality public-school option. He has championed charter schools since they were created and his clarity around providing high-quality education options today makes him an invaluable leader in education equity.