Charter School Leadership Awards

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The Charter School Leadership Awards honor African American charter school leaders and advocates who are spearheading the movement to give parents and students high-quality public school opportunities.  The 2019 awardees were recognized at the 2nd Annual Charter School Leadership Awards and Reception during the week of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation's Annual Legislative Congress. 

Jalen Rose, Jalen Rose Leadership Academy – Trailblazer Award

Current ABC/ESPN analyst and former 13-year NBA star Jalen Rose is one of the few professional athletes to maintain a high profile post-retirement. Long known for his post-game quotes and great relationship with the media, Jalen continues to show his versatility in the broadcast booth, in the entertainment world, and as a philanthropist.

Jalen’s most substantial outreach initiative to date is the establishment of the Jalen Rose Leadership Academy (JRLA). The 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.

Michael A. Carter, Sr., Jalen Rose Leadership Academy

Michael A. Carter Sr. currently serves as Managing Partner of Pinnacle Construction Partners, LLC a commercial preconstruction, planning and construction management service company for the public and private sector and President and CEO of MAC LLC, a commercial and residential development company. He is co-founder of the Jalen Rose Leadership Academy a charter school in his hometown of Detroit, Michigan.

Dominique D. Lee, BRICK Education Network

Dominique D. Lee is the founder and Chief Executive Officer of Building Resilient Intelligent Creative Kids (BRICK) Education Network. BRICK is an education management nonprofit based in Newark, New Jersey, that serves children and families together through a two-generation approach. Its mission is to relentlessly knock down all barriers to students’ academic success so that each and every child has an unimpeded path to unlocking their limitless potential.

Tysie McDowell-Ray, Crossroads Charter Schools

Tysie McDowell-Ray co-founded Crossroads Academy of Kansas City—now Crossroads Charter Schools—a network of three tuition-free charter schools in downtown Kansas City, Missouri. Crossroads Charter Schools opened its first school in 2012 with 190 students in grades K-5. Crossroads quickly established a reputation for having excellent teachers and a creative learning environment utilizing the civic, artistic, and cultural resources of downtown Kansas City as an extended campus.

Lagra Newman, Purpose Preparatory Academy

Lagra Newman is the Founder and Head of School of Purpose Preparatory Academy, one of the highest performing elementary schools in Tennessee. Purpose Prep, a public, non-selective charter school, educates children predominately within the North Nashville community and focuses on strong literacy acquisition.

U.S. Rep. William Lacy Clay, Jr. (D-MO)

Congressman Clay, who is currently serving his 10th term, was first elected to the U. S. House in 2000 after serving 17 years in both chambers of the Missouri State legislature.  He succeeded his father, the Honorable William “Bill” Clay, by continuing the legacy of tireless advocacy on behalf of the people of St. Louis. The Congressman is the Chairman of the House Financial Services Subcommittee on Housing, Community Development & Insurance.

U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX)

Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee is an influential and forceful voice in Washington.  She is serving her eleventh term as a member of the United States House of Representatives. She represents the 18th Congressional District of Texas, centered in Houston, which is the energy capital of the world.  Considered by many as the “Voice of Reason,” she is dedicated to upholding the Constitutional rights of all people.

U.S. Rep. Donald M. Payne, Jr. (D-NJ)

Congressman Donald M. Payne, Jr. is a Democratic congressman representing New Jersey’s 10th Congressional District, which covers portions of Essex, Hudson, and Union counties. A Newark, New Jersey native, he has served the people of the 10th Congressional District since 2012. Rep. Payne, Jr. is a tireless fighter for New Jersey families, working to create jobs and grow the economy, protect and invest in our children, and ensure the health and safety of our communities.



In 2018, we honored eight inaugural award recipients at the #BringTheFunk award ceremony, emceed by Roland S. Martin during the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s Annual Legislative Conference. The awards were given in partnership with The 74, Education Reform Now, Walton Family Foundation, and 100 Black Men of America, Inc.

  • Donald Hense, Friendship Charter Schools
  • Margaret Fortune, Fortune School
  • Tim King, Urban Prep Academies
  • Shantelle Wright, Achievement Prep
  • Charlene Reid, Exellence Community Schools
  • U.S. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO)
  • U.S. Rep. Dwight Evans (D-PA)
  • U.S. Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY)

Read about our 2018 awardees