Past Champions


Beginning in 2022, EALA has granted an annual unrestricted competitive sub-grant and year-long mentorship to support leaders of color, or allies of the equity in education movement, who are actively working to support students with disabilities, including students who are also marginalized, come from underserved communities, or experience poverty. Additionally, EALA has provided two additional $5,000 sub-grants to runners-up as determined by the panel of New Champions judges.

As a part of this process, funding applications are vetted by the EALA review team and reviewed by the diverse group of New Champions Fund Judges using this EALA New Champions Rubric.

New Champions 2022

Dena Simmons Ed.D

LiberatED centers radical love, healing, and racial and social justice in education so that all children can live, learn, and thrive in the comfort of their own skin. They work alongside youth, educators, and educational leaders in school and school district communities, particularly those that are predominantly Black, Indigenous, Latinx and other People of Color (BILPOC) and that have been systemically and institutionally marginalized. They partner with educators and educational leaders to support the implementation of LiberatED’s liberatory practices not only in their own lives for greater self-care and wellness, but also in their school communities to meet the unique social, emotional, academic, and mental health needs of students.

“We plan to use this funding to support the inaugural Youth Leaders Program this fall. For this particular project, we will recruit youth leaders from the New England Region and New York City, host the Youth Leaders Program, and engage in reflective analysis to develop subsequent youth leaders programs and the LiberatED curriculum. The LiberatED Youth Leaders Program is a 8-month fellowship that provides youth activists an opportunity to partner with LiberatED educators and researchers committed to creating culturally affirming school programming and evaluation.”

-Dena Simmons Ed.D

Dr. Leena Bakshi McLean

STEM4Real provides socially just and culturally relevant STEM teaching and standards-based teaching strategies through collaborative professional learning, culturally responsive instructional materials and diverse children’s literature. They focus on shifting teacher pedagogy by grounding their work with a justice centered lens that makes equity paramount in their vision.

“With this funding, we plan to leverage current STEM4Real partnerships, particularly focusing on the access of special education students. Through our facilitated Lesson Study Process (LSP), we hope to empower teachers with the tools and resources to meet the needs of diverse learners, especially those with disabilities and who come from underrepresented and under-resourced communities.”

-Dr. Leena Bakshi McLean

Dr. Charles Cole III

Dr. Charles Cole III focuses on building agency amongst the end-users of public education including students, their parents, and the community. Throughout his career, He has held roles as a social worker, a program director at prominent youth organizations, a teacher trainer and supporter, a top official in a school district, and a scholar before starting his organization.

“We have one major goal and reason for this funding–Build and execute our expansion plan worthy of our end-users.

I built this organization to serve youth like me. Youth that may have been homeless, grew up in poverty, watched their friends murdered, etc. that were tired of waiting on systems that never served us. We continue to grow this work because our team understands with profound clarity that no one or no entity is coming to save us.”

-Dr. Charles Cole III

More Info

Explore the Request for Proposals document below. Make a copy and draft your responses before navigating to the submission portal.

Submission Portal

Thank you to everyone who has submitted an application to the 2023 New Champions Fund. The application window is now closed.