Educating All Learners Alliance Announces 2023 New Champion

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The Educating All Learners Alliance (EALA), a coalition of over 130 partner organizations led by InnovateEDU, announces The Transition Academy as the 2023 New Champion. The New Champions Fund awards an annual unrestricted competitive sub-grant and year-long mentorship to support a selected leader of color or an ally of the equity in education movement. Administered by EALA, the $35,000 grant is awarded to a recipient doing innovative and exceptional work to support students with disabilities, including students who are also marginalized, come from underserved communities, or experience poverty. Expert IEP and Ujamaa Incorporated are named as the 2023 New Champion Runners-Up, recipients of the two additional $5,000 sub-grants.

“The impact of this year’s New Champion project has surpassed all expectations. With an unprecedented number of applications, we were deeply moved by the extraordinary diversity of voices and organizations represented. From community-based organizations to dedicated educators, these advocates and champions for students, particularly those working at the intersection of disability, equity, and identity, have showcased the remarkable work being done across the country,” said Treah Hutchings, project manager of EALA. “This project continues to serve as an important reminder to keep elevating the voices and work of innovative, emerging leaders, and a testament to the power of collaboration in our communities.”

The New Champions Fund elevates the work and profile of emerging leaders doing exceptional work who may not yet be recognized in traditional national fundraising or communication efforts. This initiative intends to diversify the organizations, voices, and approaches leading the conversation on serving all students. The 2023 New Champion was selected by a distinguished judging panel composed of 29 national educational leaders tasked with identifying the most innovative and impactful work by emerging leaders in the field.


2023 EALA New Champion:
The Transition Academy
Kim Riley, the founder of The Transition Academy, notes how the New Champions funding will support their work, “We plan to use the EALA New Champions award to purchase career discovery assessments designed by special education teachers that have photos of work skills in action and require little, if any, reading skills. We will pay teachers, who designed the assessments, to train us and purchase their assessments. We will also use the funding to pay stipends to black men who are recently or semi-retired to serve as program specialists. Black boys are overrepresented in special education but rarely interact with black teachers. We want to fill this gap by connecting them with black men who will teach hands-on job skills and serve as mentors.”

The Transition Academy (TTA) is a nonprofit organization with the mission to make economic inclusion a reality for youth with disabilities. Created to improve postsecondary outcomes for high school special education students in Kansas City Public Schools and charter schools, TTA supports young people with autism or developmental disabilities in exploring college or career options as they transition from school to life as an adult.


2023 New Champion Runners-Up:
Expert IEP
“With this funding, Expert IEP plans to produce marketing videos in English and Spanish, expanding our reach and promoting our mission to a wider audience,” said Antoinette Banks, founder of Expert IEP. “We also aim to onboard 1,300 families from our waiting list by hiring a part-time neurodivergent support technician. By doing so, we can provide personalized support, bridge the achievement gap, and promote equity in education for students with learning differences.”

Expert IEP is an easy-to-use app that helps families with IEPs improve learning and behavior outcomes. It aims to effectively and positively prepare school-aged children to thrive in their communities by empowering families to advocate for collaborative environments for individual learning styles.

Ujamaa Incorporated
“I am so incredibly grateful for this honor and privilege!” stated Nekia Wright, founder of Ujamaa Incorporated. “Ujamaa Inc. plans to use this funding as partial scholarship funding for 10-15 marginalized families with students with disabilities. These families will receive one year of advocacy, training, and guidance on engaging their children with disabilities at home through monthly coaching, IEP advocacy and support, the development of a Home Engagement Plan (HEP), and our family engagement app.”

Ujamma Inc. evolved out of Nekia’s educational consulting business to provide services to local organizations. She has over a decade of teaching experience in the US and abroad at international schools in Guatemala, Australia, and Panama. Art, music, self-care, and community empowerment are her primary tools for healing and promoting justice.

For more information, visit the Educating All Learners Alliance website.



The Educating All Learners Alliance (EALA) is an uncommon coalition of organizations committed to resource sharing and community-building that supports the efforts of the education community to meet the needs of students with disabilities.

Contact: Rachel Lorch, InnovateEDU,