When communities work together to eliminate inequities, our youth will thrive. The West Contra Costa Public Education Fund mobilizes resources for our students and aligns the efforts of our partners to ensure that all students succeed in college, career, and life.
All children and youth in West Contra Costa County achieve their highest aspirations and help build healthy, safe, and vibrant communities for generations to come.
The Ed Fund, West Contra Costa’s Public Education Fund, was founded in 1983 in response to the decline in funding to public education caused by the passage of Proposition 13. Proposition 13 severely cut funding to
local public schools.
In 2010, the Ed Fund recognized that there was a strong need in the community for someone to convene and align community partners in support of students of the West Costa Contra Unified School District. Beginning in 2011, the Ed Fund convened the West County College Access Network and Out-of-School Time Collaborative consisting of partner organizations representing the West Contra Costa Unified School District, Contra Costa College, city recreation departments, community based organizations, and local governmental agencies.
Based on the successes of these collaboratives, in 2015, the Ed Fund Board of Directors and staff proposed that the Ed Fund formally transition its role to that of an intermediary organization focused on developing collaborative groups that provide resources and support to aid students with college readiness, access, and completion.
Gateway to College, Contra Costa College
Karl Debro has taught at every level from middle school to graduate school. Dr. Debro has led professional development on institutional racism, student success, culturally responsive pedagogy, and equity for high schools and colleges. A recipient of the Jefferson Award for public service, Debro has been honored for his work to bring safety and respect to LGBTQ students by PFLAG and the United States Congress. Dr. Debro currently directs a concurrent enrollment program for high school push outs and drop outs at Contra Costa College. He holds a Bachelor’s in Philosophy from UC Berkeley and a Doctorate in Education from Mills College. He lives in Oakland.
Youth Ventures Joint Powers Authority
Kathleen Harris is the Executive Director for the Youth Ventures Joint Powers Authority. The JPA is recognized throughout the country for its leadership and work with low-income youth to improve educational and life opportunities. Kathleen previously served as the Director of Collective Impact with Great Oakland Public Schools Leadership Center and the Program Director, Housing and Ending The Cycle of Poverty with the Marin Community Foundation. She holds a a Bachelor’s in Liberal Arts and Sciences from San Francisco State University and a Master’s in Educational Leadership and Administration from the National Louis University.
Anna Marie Schmidt
Anna Marie Schmidt is a nonprofit consultant, supporting organizations in program development, performance measurement and impact evaluation. She has worked domestically and in Latin America helping internal staff identify and measure meaningful change among constitutions.
Joel Mackey has over 20 years of non-profit management experience. As Executive Director of Habitat for Humanity of the East Bay, Joel is skilled in successfully convening community engagement initiatives. Working as a policy specialist for Making Waves, Joel understands the importance of building a college going culture for students in the school District. Joel is an instructor teaching non-profit management courses at University of San Francisco, San Francisco State University, and California State University – East Bay. Joel is an attorney, having graduated with a Juris Doctor degree from Boalt Hall School of Law at the University of California, Berkeley. He also received a Master of Divinity degree from Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary at Northwestern University. He completed his undergraduate studies at Trinity College.
Michael Aaronian, Jr.
West Contra Costa Unified School District
A graduate of El Cerrito High School and UC Berkeley, Michael Aaronian has served public education for more than 30 years. He has served as a high school (El Cerrito), middle school, and elementary principal. Twice serving as a manager in county offices of education, Michael led programs in career development and human resources. He has also served as a teacher, counselor, and co-administrator within and outside of West Contra Costa. Michael’s advocation is football officiating, at which he has served at the Division I level since 1995.
Mission Promise Neighborhood
Raquel Donoso is a public policy advocate, philanthropic leader, and organizational strategist whose work has focused on education, health, the environment, civic engagement, immigration, and women’s rights. As the daughter of immigrants and a former young, single mother she knows first-hand the systemic barriers that impede opportunity in the United States. That is why she is devoted to achieving equitable results for families in California. Raquel is currently the Director of the Mission Promise Neighborhood (MPN), a $30M Department of Education cradle-to college-to career collective impact initiative led by the Mission Economic Development Agency. Prior to MPN, Raquel was CEO of the Latino Community Foundation, where she led the organization through its largest growth period and launched innovative grant making programs. Raquel has also worked on state policy issues, spearheading campaigns on health access, environmental health, and education equity. Raquel completed her undergraduate and graduate studies at UCLA.
Superintendent Matt Duffy
West Contra Costa Unified School District
Superintendent Matt Duffy came to the District with great leadership experience in urban schools and districts. Most recently, Matt served as the Assistant Superintendent in Milpitas Unified. There he was in charge of teaching and learning, leadership, enrollment, technology, Special Education and LCAP development. Matt’s recent accomplishments include starting a new Dual Immersion school in Milpitas, significantly expanding professional learning opportunities for all staff and growing the music program each year. Prior to Milpitas, Matt spent nine years in Oakland Unified serving as a principal and an area superintendent. Matt originally hails from New York City where he spent 4 years teaching middle school in the South Bronx and 3 years as a Vice Principal in Harlem. Matt lives in Oakland with his wife Tamara and two boys Caelin and Leo, ages 7 and 5.
Richmond Chamber of Commerce
James sees himself as an artist, a builder, an entrepreneur, and a family man. He has a beautiful wife of 20 years and three wonderful children. James prides himself in being an entrepreneur and builder of dreams. James enjoys the following activities during his time away from work. He loves snowboarding, cycling, playing his guitar, photography and hiking with his wife. In January 2016, James was hired as the president/CEO of the Richmond Chamber of Commerce.
East Bay Center for Performing Arts
Dr. Mara Lockowandt is the Director of School Partnerships at East Bay Center where she oversees the strategic development of a nationally recognized teacher professional development program, school and community youth programs, and early childhood education programs. She is dedicated to improving outcomes for diverse and marginalized youth including asylum seekers/refugees, low income, trauma-sensitive, and those with varying abilities. Previous to joining East Bay Center, Dr. Lockowandt worked as an educator, researcher and evaluator for youth and arts programs in London, UK. Dr. Lockowandt has an MA from King’s College London and a PhD from Royal Holloway, University of London specializing in diaspora and immigrant theatre traditions.
Adamas Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
Chris Prentiss is the Vice President and Corporate Controller at Adamas Pharmaceuticals, Inc. He is senior-level professional with extensive experience in finance, internal audit and public accounting, focused on life sciences and a proven ability to manage and lead through change, improve operations, and develop departments from the ground up. He is a results-oriented leader who achieves or exceeds goals with confidence and integrity. He has strong qualifications in accounting and financial management, SEC reporting, internal controls, system implementation, process improvement and staff development.
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Joel Mackey has over 20 years of non-profit management experience. As Executive Director of Habitat for Humanity of the East Bay, Joel is skilled in successfully convening community engagement initiatives. Working as a policy specialist for Making Waves, Joel understands the importance of building a college going culture for students in the school District. Joel is an instructor teaching non-profit management courses at University of San Francisco, San Francisco State University, and California State University – East Bay.
Joel is an attorney, having graduated with a Juris Doctor degree from Boalt Hall School of Law at the University of California, Berkeley. He also received a Master of Divinity degree from Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary at Northwestern University. He completed his undergraduate studies at Trinity College.
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Robert Bunce has brought his energy and devotion to the field of education for over 20 years. As Program Director for the Ed Fund for the past 7 years, Robert has grown and developed the organization’s programs, launched the Out-of-School Time and College Access initiatives, and helped transition the organization into its new backbone role. In addition to overseeing programming, Robert is often the face in the community for the Ed. Fund, working with diverse community stakeholders to identify opportunities and resources to improve educational opportunities for youth and schools through West Contra Costa. Robert attended Sonoma State University for his graduate and undergraduate studies in education and history respectively, and earned his teaching credential from Dominican University.
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Veli Waller received a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology and Business from UCLA and a teaching credential from California State University at Hayward. Veli is a certified Career & College Advisor; receiving her certification through UC Berkeley Extension. After teaching in the classroom, she then spent 15 years working in the Supplemental Education Industry in a variety of capacities. Initially she began running after-school tutoring centers. She worked closely with parents, students and teachers to ensure each child’s needs were being met. Veli then went on to manage a region of educational centers and to provide training and development for staff throughout California. Veli joined the Ed Fund in 2012 and as the College Access Manager, led the financial aid campaign which resulted in an increase in completion of financial aid applications from 33% to 67% across West Contra Costa Unified School District. She has developed and delivered college access workshops to students, parents and community partners. Veli is passionate about helping students develop to their potential. Veli grew up in El Cerrito and is a product of WCCUSD schools.
Finance and HR Manager
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Beth Wright is the Finance and HR Manager at the Ed Fund. She brings to the organization 21 years of experience working with nonprofits, through her own business, specializing in nonprofit accounting setup, maintenance, full charge bookkeeping services, budgeting, audit prep, tax preparation, and benefits management. She has served as Treasurer, lending her accounting experience to nonprofit boards, and was instrumental in starting a nonprofit to keep the music program alive in a local school district.
She is a native of Washington, where she grew up in the beautiful Northwest. Her loves are her daughter, her 12 cats, and quilting.
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