Who We Are
We are poets, foodies, barbershop singers, writers, consciousness junkies, activists, climbers, snowboarders, and pianists.
We are also educators with a vision. We have freedom, resources, and a workplace grounded in our wellness.
Read through our stuff, and if your life's work aligns with ours, we want to hear from you--we want you to join us!
Nathan Pai Schmitt
Co-founder & Executive Director
The first half of my education took place in an extremely student-driven environment, and I struggled quite deeply to fit the mold at school thereafter. The work I've done teaching, building programs and organizations, coaching and training teachers, designing and iterating authentic education models, and building networks around a vision and a cause has been informed by a love of translating abstract philosophical systems into concrete things (classes, programs, organizations). Philosophy is widely misunderstood and underrated. My main areas of focus these days are in building a strong, influential team of the right people to push the world of education towards true authenticity. This work is for the students who I love and whose photos you will find all over this website.
I Love: cooking, food, more cooking, rock climbing, hiking, general outdoor silliness, traveling, couchsurfing.org, more food, dark chocolate, people who have weird diets (because I am one of them), and hosting dinner parties.
The students in this video taught me what it means to teach. They are why I'm committed to this work and why we haven't the time for conformist models of education. My life goal is transformative resistance, developing revolutionary love, and actively decolonizing my mind.
I Love learning new instruments, singing, #IAmNotYourNegro, radical folk, mi familia, re-watching the autobiography of Malcolm X, baking really dope cakes, and my West African roots.
Founding Mentor - HackSchool: A Socially Conscious Makerspace
The structure of education in America has largely remained the same for many decades and, as a child, I felt that the traditional model of schooling did not serve me. This is why I chose to be a teacher and my life’s work has become a search for a revolutionary and transformative approach to education. A socially aware and technologically appropriate approach that meets the needs of the world today. An approach that harnesses the ideas and talents of young people to help make this a better place. An approach that embraces real-world experiences, interest-based learning, experimentation and yes, even failure. Nathan’s definition of education is “the mechanism through which a society enables its people to do things of value.” We need this now more than ever.
I love spending time with my wife, dog and chickens, being outdoors, camping, hiking, backpacking, snowboarding, practicing aikido, designing and building new things, and gaming.
Founding Mentor - Street Knowledge: Manual Writes
As a teacher, I am moved every day by the power, beauty, and potential of humankind. Education should never be isolated by abstract curriculum or limited by the four walls of a classroom; instead it should be driven by students and connected to the larger world. For then, education serves as an act of liberation. Spending the last four years writing and learning with students at Manual High School, I have witnessed the immeasurable power of voice. Together, we have worked to create a space where young people use writing to resist and transform persistent structures of privilege and oppression.
I love reading outside, the ocean, postcards, storytelling, rain in the summertime, my family, soft serve ice cream, transformative literature.
Founding Mentor - Street Knowledge
I am grateful for all the educators in my life. Whether it was friends, teachers, the random woman at the gas station, or the wonderful students that gave me the opportunity to learn; I am lucky to have had an education beyond the confines of schooling. The freedom dreams of those before me, those with me, and those I hope after me are the reasons why I believe in the possibilities of what we do.
I love music, the possibilities of a free black future, family, reflection, and my people.
Founding Director of Development & Senior Advisor
My career has taken me all over, and I have worked with hundreds of organizations, philanthropists, and thought leaders--my calling has always been the world of education. My teachers shaped and continue to shape the way I interact with the world. I have a smile on my face more days than not because of them.
With this team, I found an idea which combines my belief that the key to change is education, that true learning can only come from the student, and that the power within each of us is stronger than we know.
I love anything in the mountains, the moment the lights go down before a movie starts in a packed theater, having gray hair, and my family. Sure they are a little goofy but they are mine.
Our amazing advisors
Alex Hernandez is a Partner at the Charter School Growth Fund (CSGF), a nonprofit that supports the growth of the nation’s best public charter schools. He has led over $100M in investments and built the organization’s Next Generation Schools practice, establishing CSGF as a national leader in school innovation. He now leads CSGF’s Impact Team that provides direct services to portfolio schools to help them scale better and reach higher levels of performance faster.
Alex is a former Area Superintendent at Aspire Public Schools where he managed schools in the California Central Valley region. He taught high school math in South Los Angeles and later served as a Broad Fellow at Portland Public Schools. Before that, Alex worked for several years with JP Morgan and Disney’s venture capital arm, Steamboat Ventures. He is a graduate of Claremont McKenna College, has an MBA and Masters of Education from Stanford University, and is a Pahara-Aspen fellow for leaders dedicated to transforming public education. He is a board member of DSST Public Schools, Ednovate, Rocketship Education and 4pt0 Schools. He is also a mentor for the Future Cities Accelerator, a collaboration between the Unreasonable Institute and the Rockefeller Foundation. Alex lives near Boulder, Colorado with his wife Michelle and twin sons.
Moonshot edVentures founder Christine DeLeon has a wide range of experiences in leadership development, entrepreneurship, and new school models. As CEO of Moonshot edVentures, Christine is responsible for surfacing and supporting a more diverse set of leaders to design and launch the schools of tomorrow. In order to build the pipeline, Christine also co-leads a local group called “Talk to Action,” an organically-formed group of educators focused on issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion and its intersection with K-12 education. Additionally, she helped co-found the edGarage, a co-working space dedicated to helping education entrepreneurs along their startup journey.
Christine began her career as a management consultant at the Boston Consulting Group and later became the Los Angeles lead for The Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation’s leadership development portfolio, focusing primarily on school leadership preparation programs. In 2010, she founded the Analyst Fellowship for Education Pioneers, the organization's first year-long fellowship, which has grown from 10 to more than 100 fellows annually in fewer than five years. Christine also spearheaded efforts for districts (including Denver Public Schools), charter networks, and city-based nonprofits to develop and support innovative new school models in conjunction with Next Generation Learning Challenges and Education Cities. She also led the recruitment of the second cohort of Summit Basecamp schools, growing the program from 19 schools to more than 130 schools. She possesses experience in cultivating entrepreneurs through her time as a Harvard Innovation Lab Fellow and is a trained facilitator of Intergroup Dialogues, structured to explore social group identity, conflict, community, and social justice. She holds a BA in Business Administration from the University of Michigan and a Doctorate in Education Leadership from Harvard University, and is a member of the inaugural Pahara Next Gen Network.
I love: creating new things, empowering individuals to reach their fullest potential, yoga, running snowboarding, surfing, FaceTiming my nieces and nephews, and spontaneous trip taking.
Shannon is a senior executive with over 20 years experience in the private, public, and non-profit sectors. In particular, she has a track record of operational leadership in managing rapid growth and transforming education enterprises. She began her work in education serving in the Chancellor's Office of the New York City public school system during the early days of Children First, the reform effort led by Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Chancellor Joel Klein. She later served as Chief Operating Officer at the following organizations: PLTW, a national leader in project-based STEM education, Success Academies, one of the highest growth and highest performing charter school networks in the country, and Amplify, a market trailblazer in educational technology. She was also a member of the inaugural class of the Broad Residency in Education Program. Shannon began her career in investment banking at Goldman Sachs and later served as a Chief of Staff in asset management. She remains involved in education through board roles and as an advisor to several edtech start-ups. Ms. Kete holds an MBA from Harvard Business School and a BA from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where she was a Morehead-Cain Scholar.
I love: baking desserts, camping in the Adirondacks, growing lavender, hydrangeas and clematis in my garden, and drinking coffee in the morning on my porch.
Want to work with us?
We would love to hear from you! We're building a world-class team as we accelerate towards our vision. We always love to meet critically conscious, dedicated, empathetic, and highly effective people. Drop us a line!