Transform K-12 Education in Your City
Become a Fellow
We are a nonprofit working to improve public education by building student power. Our fellowship program engages a diverse and representative group of students in a targeted field organizing campaign with intensive training.
This Year's Fellowship Sites
St. Paul, MN
June - August
June - August
June - August
Los Angeles, CA
January - May
January - March and March - May
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Learn More about the Fellowship
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SFER Action Network Board Members
Meg Ansara Partner, 270 Strategies
Born and raised in the Boston area, Meg grew up in a family whose members have always been dedicated to working for social justice and equality. Education was one of the values most stressed in her childhood and, not surprisingly, three of her four parents are educators. After graduating summa cum laude from Oberlin College, Meg began her career in grassroots organizing. She went on to work on several local, state, and national political campaigns, including the Wellstone for Senate campaign in 2002. In 2003, Meg joined Stand for Children, an organization that educates and empowers parents, teachers, and community members to demand excellent public schools. Meg became Stand for Children's National Organizing Director in 2007, and assumed the role of Chief Operating Officer from 2009 to 2012. In 2004, Meg worked as a National Trainer for the Democratic National Committee. Meg served as Midwest States Regional Director on the Obama Re-Election Campaign, supervising the field operations in Iowa, Ohio, Wisconsin, and Minnesota—among other states—from the campaign’s national headquarters in Chicago. Meg now works as a Partner in 270 Strategies, a political consulting firm she started with alumni of the Obama Re-Elect, including Mitch Stewart (Battleground States Director), and Jeremy Bird (National Field Director).
Tenicka Boyd Education Reform Now
Tenicka is the Senior Director of Organizing at StudentsFirst NY where her job includes organizing thousands of district parents to demand teacher quality in NYC. In her prior role she worked with the Obama Administration, where she served at the U.S. Department of Education in the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. Tenicka joined the Administration as Assistant to the Executive Director of the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness. Previously, she spent years as an organizer: in Flint, Michigan, as Lead Community Organizer for Flint Area Congregations Together and as an organizer for the Obama campaign in 2008; and in Alexandra, Virginia as Regional Healthcare Reform Organizer for Tenants and Workers United, where she helped build a statewide coalition in support of progressive healthcare reform. Tenicka earned a Bachelor of Arts in Communications from Tennessee State University and a Masters of Science in U.S. History and Public Policy from the University of Michigan. She resides in Brooklyn with her family.
Adam Cioth Co-Founder, Claremont Foods
Adam Cioth worked as an investment banker for ten years at Goldman Sachs in New York and for five years for Volpe Brown Whelan in San Francisco, where he served as Head of the Investment Banking Division before launching his own advisory firm, Rolling Hills Capital, serving early-stage technology companies. Adam has served as the SFER finance chair since 2011, and served as the founding SFER Action Network board chair. He currently sits on both boards. Adam served on the San Francisco School Alliance which supports the San Francisco Unified School District. Adam has served on the board of directors of the French American International School and International High School, including two years as Chair of the Finance Committee and six years as Chair of the Board. Since 2003 Adam has served on the Advisory Board of the California HealthCare Foundation’s Leadership Program. Since June 2011 Adam has served on the board of Leadership Public Schools, a charter school management organization headquartered in Oakland, CA. Adam has also served on the NewSchools Venture Fund Leadership Council. Adam received a B.A. from Princeton University, studied graduate-level International Economics at the Université François Rabelais in Tours, France, and received an M.B.A. from the Stanford Graduate School of Business.
John Petry Founder, Sessa Capital
John Petry is the founder and managing principal at Sessa Capital. Previously he was a partner at Gotham Capital and Gotham Asset Management and a co-founder of the Value Investors Club (valueinvestorsclub.com). John graduated from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania in 1993. John has been active in a variety of education reform causes. He was a co- founder of Democrats for Education Reform and served as past Chairman of Education Reform Now, organizations that are dedicated to reforming education policy both nationally and locally. He was a founding member of the Board of Trustees of Success Academy Harlem 1 and Success Academy Harlem 4.
Chris Stewart Board Director, SFER Action Network; Director of Outreach and External Affairs, Education Post
Prior to his current role at Education Post, Chris was Executive Director of the African American Leadership Forum (AALF), a cross-sector network of black leaders working to develop and implement an urban policy agenda across five northwest states. In 2007 Chris was elected to the Minneapolis Public Schools Board of Education. In that role, he helped establish the Office of New Schools, an area of the Minneapolis Public Schools to implement school reform strategies. At the same time he created the Equity and Achievement Committee, authored a board-level “Covenant with the African American Community,” and advocated safe, orderly, and rigorous schools that prepare students for the real world. In 2011, Chris organized community members for two campaigns in Minnesota: Action For Equity, a grassroots effort to spur innovation in family and education policy at the state level, and the Contract for Student Achievement, a coalition of community organizations working to achieve greater flexibility for underperforming schools through changes to Minneapolis’ teachers’ contract. Chris blogs and tweets under the name Citizen Stewart. He is based in Minneapolis.
SFER Action Network Sitting Board Members
Amy Hertel Buckley Partner, Education Cities
Amy Hertel Buckley is a Partner at Education Cities, a national nonprofit that supports and advises city-based education organizations on their efforts to grow great public schools. Amy utilizes her experience launching and leading an Education Cities member organization to help others across the network grow their impact. While at The Minneapolis Foundation, Amy recognized that city funders and partners could reach more children and communities if they worked together to align resources and vision. As the Founding Executive Director of Minneapolis’ newest harbormaster, Amy garnered input and support from a group of 100 leaders as she created a strategic, city-wide strategy to help more families access great schools. Amy has also been a strategy consultant at McKinsey & Co. and a litigator at Dorsey & Whitney, LLP. Amy earned her BA at the College of Saint Benedict and her MPA at the Woodrow Wilson School for Public and International Affairs at Princeton University, as well as her juris doctorate from Stanford Law School.
April Chou Chief Growth & Operating Officer, KIPP Bay Area Schools
April Chou is responsible for the expansion of new KIPP schools in the Bay Area and oversees the operating functions that support the success of our students and schools. Previously, April was a Partner at NewSchools Venture Fund and worked as a management consultant with McKinsey & Company in Washington, DC, Beijing, and San Francisco. April served as the founding board chair of Students for Education Reform (SFER). She received her bachelor’s degree from Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs and has a dual MBA and Masters in Education from Stanford University. April lives in San Francisco with her husband Peter Belden and their two sons, where they can be found enjoying outdoor adventures together whenever possible.
Stuart Cobert Attorney, former Deputy General Counsel at Unilever
Justin Cohen Board Chair, Students for Education Reform; Author
My mom was a public school teacher, my grandfather was a superintendent, my father runs a tutoring business, and I married a PhD of Italian literature. I went to public schools from kindergarten until twelfth grade. Until 2015 I was president of Boston-based education nonprofit Mass Insight Education, where we helped cities and states around this country rethink how we serve our most vulnerable children. Before that I worked in the DC public schools and was on the education policy committee for President Obama's 2008 campaign. I have the privilege of serving as board chairman for Students for Education Reform and spent five years as academic committee chair for the Cesar Chavez Public Charter Schools. I am spending the next couple of years learning from the children, families, educators, and civic leaders whose futures are intertwined with and dependent on an obsolete system that was built for another era.
Last Year's Fellowships
Los Angeles, CA
10 hours per week planning direct actions, media and organizing in South Gate
An eleven-week program to canvass and phone bank for a District 5 DPS candidate
Twin Cities, MN
An eleven-week program to register voters and engage the community for upcoming elections
An eight-week program to register voters and engage the community for the 2016 elections
Q: What is SFER Action Network?
A: Students for Education Reform Action Network (SFER AN) is a 501(c)(4) nonprofit that supports, trains, and coaches a community of student leaders who demand policy change, hold elected leaders accountable at the polls, influence the platforms of candidates running for office, and build power in communities that have historically been left behind. As part of our mission, SFER AN runs annual fellowships at local sites around the country.
Q: What is the fellowship?
A: The fellowship is an intensive 6-to-16-week program in which students receive guided campaign and leadership training, build and organize community power, and apply their training through direct community engagement. Fellows work 20 - 40 hours per week on a variety of activities including phone banking, canvassing (door-knocking), meeting with community leaders, planning community events, and researching education issues in each community. The program has a rigorous schedule and is meant to give fellows the expertise and tools to become skilled grassroots organizers.
Through SFER AN, student organizers have knocked on tens of thousands of doors in their neighborhoods, increased voter turnout in low-income neighborhoods, and built new political power in their communities. Our goal is to build a pipeline of passionate, progressive, diverse young organizers who will lead the movement for radical change and educational justice.
To recruit students of all racial, socioeconomic, gender, and sexual orientation identities, our fellowship is paid. Unpaid internships and fellowships are often inaccessible to many students. Having a paid fellowship not only ensures our fellows are as diverse as our movement, but it’s also the right thing to do.
Q: Do you endorse political candidates?
A: Yes, SFER AN endorses and supports candidates on the local and state level who are committed to fighting for pro-student policies like high standards, restorative justice discipline reform, school choice, career and college readiness, and racial justice.
Our student fellows drive endorsements at each fellowship site. Fellows research local education issues and candidates. Depending on the race and location, students also send candidates questionnaires about their experience and interview candidates in person. Following this process, fellows discuss the candidates in each race, debate their merits, and endorse their chosen candidate.
Then, fellows hit the ground and organize! SFER AN supports the fellows by providing literature (like brochures and handouts), access to databases with call lists and canvassing maps, and other materials.
Some of our fellowships are focused on community organizing rather than electoral campaigns. Fellows at these sites organize to build demand for better education policies, register voters, and find out which issues are most important to community members.
Q: How do SFER AN’s campaign contributions work?
A: SFER AN does not make any direct donations to candidates. The resources go towards the support of our student fellowship, and our fellows then decide which candidate to endorse.
We make sure our student fellows have a voice and have the resources to compete with establishment groups to support their chosen candidates. Status quo groups shouldn’t be the only ones with money to advocate for their ideas. We’re proud that we can support students, who are the closest and most affected by the impact of schools, to get involved with education politics.
Q: How are you connected to Students for Education Reform? What is a 501(c)(4)? What’s up with all the numbers and letters?
A: SFER AN, a 501(c)(4) nonprofit, is the sister organization of Students for Education Reform (SFER), which is classified as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit. Both organizations are student-driven nonprofits and have the same values, but they are categorized differently by the tax code. They use different methods to advocate for K-12 educational equity and a public school system that works for everyone.
The numbers-and-letters part seems complicated, but it’s easy to understand once you learn the lingo. As a 501(c)(3), SFER is a nonpartisan organization and donations to SFER are tax-deductible. As a 501(c)(4), SFER AN can do direct advocacy, lobbying, and endorse candidates, and donations to SFER AN are not tax-deductible. Other well-known 501(c)(4) groups include the Americans for Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the League of Conservation Voters, and the Human Rights Campaign.
Q: So, you mentioned donations. Who are your donors, and why are they supporting SFER AN?
A: SFER AN donors are a diverse group from different backgrounds and different political parties who believe in our mission. They know that the current public school system wasn’t built to serve all communities, and that change is urgently needed for students and families who are trapped in failing schools.
More importantly, they know that systemic change won’t come from the status quo. That’s why our donors are endlessly inspired by SFER AN student members and fellows, many of whom are from communities that are chronically underserved by the public school system and by the political establishment. By building political power in these communities and bringing student voices to the forefront of the education reform movement, SFER AN organizers can revolutionize public education.
SFER AN donors take their cue from these passionate students, and want to give them the resources they need to lead the movement for educational justice. Donors don’t dictate SFER AN’s policies, endorsements, or membership – they just give SFER AN the resources to amplify our students’ stories and pay our student fellows for their hard work.
Q: Who is on your board, and what is their role?
A: You can find a list of our board members and our staff members on the homepage of this site. Our board and staff are an incredible group of people, dedicated to educational justice and lifting up our student members.
Our board members provide guidance on nonprofit governance to our staff, and do not dictate endorsements, political policies, or fellowship membership. We draw on their expertise to make sure that SFER AN is run efficiently and is in the best position to support our students.
Staff members, with the support of the national leadership team, manage each local fellowship site and act as mentors for the students. They provide organizing and leadership training, answer questions from student fellows, and make sure the trains run on time so that the fellows can focus on organizing.
Q: Are you pro-charter?
A: Yes! Above all, SFER AN members are fans of high-quality public schools, whether they are charter schools, magnet schools, or traditional public schools. We support any school that offers a rigorous public education and a positive cultural environment for all students, especially students of color and low-income students. Based on our own experiences and education research, we know that every student can learn and achieve at high levels, regardless of zip code or background. Often, charter schools offer innovative models that do more for chronically underserved neighborhoods than traditional schools.
We believe that families should be able to choose which school is the best fit for them, especially if their traditional school is not working. Depending on the needs of a particular neighborhood, charter schools can be the best option. In other neighborhoods, magnet schools or traditional public schools might work better.
Importantly, we also support high standards and accountability for all schools, including charters. SFER AN’s goal is to make sure the public school system works for everyone, and we’re open to any school model that achieves that goal.