News Release

Brown’s Promise launches to work on school segregation, resource equity

July 20, 2023 – Media Contact: Alan Richard, (202) 641-1300

The Southern Education Foundation is pleased to announce the launch of Brown’s Promise, a multi-year initiative to combat racial segregation and resource inequities in schools.

Brown’s Promise was founded by Ary Amerikaner and Saba Bireda, two former senior officials at the U.S. Department of Education under President Obama. The SEF-based initiative plans to reinvigorate the national discussion on the importance of ending school segregation and resource disparities in schools, districts, and states.

“Improving our nation’s public schools requires us to help eliminate racial segregation and provide more equitable learning opportunities for every student,” SEF President and CEO Raymond C. Pierce said. “Brown’s Promise is focusing on these essential goals, expanding SEF’s work to address some of the greatest challenges in education, especially for students of color and those from low-income families.”

Brown’s Promise is focusing on segregation and resource disparities through:

  • Research: Investigating and addressing research needs on these issues.
  • Litigation and Advocacy: Developing legal remedies and policy solutions while supporting advocacy campaigns for change.
  • Collaboration: Fostering interactions and partnership between researchers, advocates, and others working on these issues.
  • Communications and Outreach: Drawing attention to these issues, increasing dialogue among key advocates, and providing resources for local and state partners engaged in similar work.

More on Ary Amerikaner: A former deputy assistant secretary at the U.S. Department of Education, she served on the Biden-Harris administration’s and Maryland Gov. Wes Moore’s transition teams, as a vice president for The Education Trust and the chief of staff for the Maryland Department of Education, among other roles.

“Diversifying schools remains one of the only proven strategies to expand students’ access to the resources they deserve, including excellent teachers, first-rate instructional resources, and wraparound social-emotional supports,” said Amerikaner. “As political divisions threaten our democracy, more diverse schools can also foster understanding across racial, ethnic, cultural, and economic lines. That’s the change we hope to deliver for communities, schools, and families, and we’re thrilled to embark on this journey with the support of the Southern Education Foundation.”

More on Saba Bireda: A former senior counsel for the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights, Bireda has also worked for the Education Law Center-PA, the Center for American Progress, and the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, served as a teacher in the District of Columbia Public Schools, and on the DC Public Charter School Board for five years.

“Because of an intentional effort to diversify schools, I had the chance to attend some of the best, most well-resourced schools in the state of Florida. It absolutely changed my life,” said Bireda. “We can’t keep letting artificial school district and attendance boundaries — that decision-makers and voters have the power to change — separate students from the opportunities that diverse, well-resourced schools promise.”

A 155-year-old organization, SEF continues to expand its work to improve education in the South through policy and advocacy, research and data, leadership programs, and innovations: SEF is now the home of the federal Equity Assistance Center-South that works with school districts to address educational disparities as outlined in federal law. And the SEF Outcomes Based Contracting center is supporting school districts across the country to require that outside vendors working with schools meet specific goals before they are paid in full.

For more information, contact SEF Communications.