Dear Parents…

“I watched the classroom like I watched the streets because I knew part of the answer was there.” James Baldwin

This weekend, I was inspired to respond to a distressing post I was tagged in. For me, it brought the past thirteen years in community with an independent school altogether as would the last piece of a complicated yet beautiful puzzle.

The parent’s heart-breaking post described an all too familiar experience about leaving or staying. It was about pulling black and brown students out of schools when painful and clearly racist incidents occur.

The hope of the person writing the post was to be able to identify schools doing the work  (like a list), where racism couldn’t show it’s ugly face. And, if it did leadership and the community would deal with it intentionally and swiftly.

As a highly-engaged POC (parent of color) with a lifestyle network focused on independent school culture and us, I am conscious of how both of these roles offer me insights, a clearer perspective on a few things, like,

*why I’m so insistent on pursuing this type of education for my kids & others in spite of the complexities racially and socio-economically
*and, how I believe families of color can beat the odds and really thrive in these rigorously challenging environments while making it better for those who follow

I’ve often wondered if “a list” can genuinely and accurately identify the culture of educational spaces as free from the opportunity of racial trauma, at any given point in time. Will ranking schools as doing all the right or wrong things protect our kids?

Or do we need a blueprint? Could a playbook and toolkit better serve us for the ‘Not If, But When‘ scenario in institutions that are centered in whiteness?

What should a playbook and toolkit take into consideration?

1. We belong – many of our ancestors built powerful cultural legacies against all reason, and with sweat equity and their lives, drove the capital to create our most elite institutions. I was reminded a long time ago how to walk in white spaces -like I already earned a seat at the table. Are we prepared to pull up, find networks, show up, and take our place? Read More »

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May 8 – Navigating The Independent School Process: School Curriculum


Ever wondered what elevates an independent school education?

What does curriculum look like? How rigorous is it? What enrichment opportunities exist?

How culturally competent is it? Is it a good fit for your family?

Resources In Independent School Education [RIISE], is thrilled to be back with Mocha Moms Brooklyn on May 8, leading a panel of experts addressing your questions about independent school education.

RSVP today & join us. We’d love to see you in Brooklyn on Wednesday, May 8th, 6:30-8:30p

Tip of the day…spring ahead of the fall’s independent school application, now.


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White Spaces, Black & Brown Faces: Considering rigor & agency in independent schools

Thirteen years later, I regard my experience as a passionate tug of war between privilege and oppression. I grapple with this persistent binary as a parent of children of color in an independent school, and in my work, I am passionate about.

As a parent advocate and school advisor, I am often responding to questions like how do we get in and how do families of color navigate independent school communities? (FACT: On Saturday, 4.27, we’ll discuss both in Harlem at the RIISE Parent Power Conference – join us! (

As a parent of two indy school students, very few moments have been wasted leveraging the resources this type of education has to offer while at the same time, showing up and standing up for my kids and other scholars of color in communities where they are among the numerical minority. My family is in the home stretch now, with our first headed off to college this fall, and we’re ecstatic -one down, one to go and there is still much more work to do to make sure other families are afforded the same educational opportunities.

My activism was an unexpected outcome of enrolling in an independent school. Yet, I along with others -parents, students, educators, and administrators are using our agency to make good schools better and answerable to their noble mission and vision.

It has been our students though who’ve been at the forefront of building alliances for social change at the same time shining academically. With plenty of grit & resilience to spare they are thinking critically and arguing persuasively about what they expect to learn and experience in predominantly white spaces. They are not waiting for us or their schools to get right as they guide us toward the future. This is why we are thrilled to be kicking off our 7th #RIISEPPC19 with our students of color who will tell their own stories as young scholars and activists.

Ever wonder how parents of color navigate and thrive too? Oh, you didn’t know? Regardless of how busy we may be, showing up is not an option for parents of color at a public, charter, and especially at independent schools where social and financial investments are expected. The overall success of our students of color is dependent upon us. And, this is why at the conference parent leaders will speak directly to other parents who are considering or already enrolled and present their powers of engagement, advocacy, and agency partnering with school communities.

If you’re applying this or next year, it’s time to vault ahead accessing educational rigor & resources. And guess what? There will be a parent workshop for that also called, Admission plus Cost. Then meet amazingly diverse independent schools – pK-12, K-9, middle school, day, boarding and early learning too! There’s something for everyone at #RIISEPPC19 -register and bring a friend. We will access academic rigor and empower school communities together.

Can’t make it? Not in the NYC area? We’re giving quick parent consults during May –link to sign up! ( )

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April 27 [RIISE Parent Power Conference 2019]

We’re back in Harlem for culturally responsive recruitment & enrollment. We invite families of color exploring, or already enrolled in pK-12 independent school education to attend.


11:00 Conference Welcome

11:10 SHINING – Student of Color Panel

11:50 Parent Power Workshops (concurrent)

I Admission plus Cost

II How We Thrive in Indy Schools

1:00 Independent School Recruitment Fair

3:00 Conference Close

Participating Schools
check back for updates…
Riverdale Country School, Horace Mann School, Ethical Culture Fieldston School, Greenwich Academy, The Buckley School, The Town School, Browning, Pine Street School, The Brick Church School, Westover School*, Fay School*, Avenues, Léman Manhattan School, The Workshop Independent…

*boarding schools

**Sponsor – Riverdale Country School

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August 12-13 [RIISE Martha’s Vineyard Events 2019]


Welcome Families & those passionate about educating students of color,

Monday 8.12, 11a-2p, Boarding School Networks On The Vineyard @Edgartown Library
Register: – FREE

New England is home to more than seventy boarding schools. How many do you pass on your way to the Vineyard?

If you’re thinking deeply about ‘a good education’ for your child, then you need to look no further than the 6th annual RIISE Martha’s Vineyard Events in August. Particularly, if you have or know a student of color.

On August 12, we’ll be Building Boarding School Networks On The Vineyard!

Join a very particular discussion with students, parents, and decision-makers from

Westover School, The Fay School, & Cambridge School of Weston.

Questions we’ll ask and explore:
What are the benefits of a boarding school education?

What makes a boarding school education so unique? And, how do students of color thrive there?

How does this particular private school experience prepare our kids for college success and beyond?

RSVP now for this free event at


Tuesday, 8.13, 12:00p-3:30pRIISE Brunch & Beach 
@Winnetu Oceanside Resort
RSVP: – Free 18/under, $125/adult 

The expectation is that investing in ‘a good education’ will guarantee our next generation economic mobility and social respectability.

With even fewer guarantees, many of us are more than willing to take the risk and bet on selective k-12 college prep schools and institutions of higher learning. The outcomes are students who think critically, are innovative, collaborative, and can create positive change in communities.

But what are the real costs of ‘a good education’ and how do we ensure our children will win and don’t become over-burdened with debt doing so?

How do we make sure students of color have the social and emotional support and professional networks to successfully navigate predominantly white institutions and industry understanding their cultural capital – who they are, whom they come from, and where they are headed?

On Tuesday, August 13, we return to the beautiful Winnetu Resort and South Beach with a dynamic group of industry, legacy wealth, and educational thought-leaders who will dive-in and consider with us the present-day virtues are of ‘a good education’, the stakes involved with it, and how to thrive, not just survive.

Industry thought-leader, Richelle Parham, will lead the discussion with contributions from legacy wealth thought-leader, Dr. Pamela Jolly and educational thought-leader Trina Gary, along with Elon Collins – Riverdale ’19 & Brown ’23.

There will be plenty of food for thought, the soul, the body, and a ton of fun for the whole family!

We encourage you to join us for ‘critical conversations by the sea’ and empower yourself with valuable considerations that will impact educating future generations. Come and enjoy a wonderful Vineyard Summer brunch while expanding your networks and meeting some new faces.

RSVP for this event at, 


**Accommodations: 10% discount at Winnetu Oceanside Resort when you mention RIISE MV Events.







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RIISE Feature with DiversityIS

We are honored to be part of the inaugural issue of DiversityIS! Read more here.

RIISE knows the critical role parents play in the overall success of our children of color in schools. Our independent schools offer tremendous opportunities to excel yet present real challenges with equity, inclusion, and diversity. Public and charter schools struggle too. We don’t have to wait for our schools to get it right. We can partner with them now! Parents who engage, advocate, and have agency are ensuring that our pK-12, children of color experience overall emotional, social, and academic success.

How do parent engagement, advocacy, and agency look? RIISE has the blueprint, playbook, and toolkit to thrive, not just survive. We are here to support families and schools along the journey. Let’s talk about that!  You can reach us at,

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RIISE Newsletter – Parents The Time Is Now

Can’t say it enough,

parent engagement is critical!

There are infinite ways to engage as a parent. And, engage we must! There is too much going on in the world and in our schools not to be.

In fact, it is borderline negligence to be absent from our elite school communities. We have to be aware and active -always.

Without engagement, it’ll be a challenge to advocate* effectively or have the agency* you’ll need at the precise moment you need it! Trust – you’ll need it.

Without it, you won’t know what exceptional co & extra-curricular opportunities exist for your child to experience and benefit from.

Parents & guardians, how you engage it is up to you. Just do it. It is critical to the overall success – emotionalsocial, and academic of students of color.

One way to engage is to attend events!

Showing up can be tough for various reasons, but we’ve gotta do it! If it’s a mindset thing -you’ve earned your place. You & your family belong and your experiences matter. Commit to school events you should and can attend.

You’re invited to two events in the NYC area! 

read more


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A Cautionary Tale of Two Classrooms


The Civil Rights Museum - Birmingham, Alabama

The Civil Rights Museum – Birmingham, Alabama

Over 50 years ago, Chief Justice, Thurgood Marshall delivered the opinion of the Court with Brown v. Board of Education, stating “We conclude that in the field of public education the doctrine of ‘separate but equal’ has no place. Separate educational facilities are inherently unequal. . .”

To this day, racial balance is not reflected in public education. In fact, the classroom is as segregated as ever. Putting ‘private independent’ in front of ‘school’ further exaggerates the socioeconomic and racial divide in education.

Recently, I had the privilege of chaperoning a civil rights and service learning school trip to Birmingham & Montgomery, AL. At the Civil Rights Museum, I was confronted with the historical and the contemporary, staring at replicas of two separate and distinctly unequal classrooms – a white classroom circa 1953 and a black classroom circa 1953. The tale of two classrooms really isn’t a tale at all.

Which classroom did I choose for my kids?

I chose one separate and unequal space, private independent (predominantly white) over another, public (mainly black and brown). This self-awareness came with not only self-critique but also self-affirmation.

Why had I made this choice? It’s simple: Exceptional education and resources.

How do I reconcile putting my kids in such a racially unbalanced space? I do it through high parent engagement and advocacy which gives me the agency to create partnerships in my school community that cultivate equitable and inclusive communities.

I have little faith that the racial imbalance in our systems of education will change over the next fifty years. Whether we choose public, charter, private or private independent, the overall success of our children is ultimately dependent on how we show up as parents. We must intentionally show up for our kids in powerful ways that remind them where they are, who they are, who they come from. We must teach them to engage, advocate, have agency, and of course, contribute back to communities that look like them.

Perhaps, our kids will be the generation bold and resourced enough to create classrooms that reflect diversity all the way around.


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RIISE Fall Boutique Recruitment Event – This video says it all!


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How To Be a Total School Fair Rock Star!



How To Be a Total School Fair Rock Star -before, during, and after best practices


You may have been to a couple of school fairs already. They are one of the most important initial stops on the independent school journey. It’s where you gain knowledge and make that first impression.

You can shine bright like a diamond if you take the opportunity to polish up before, during, and after school fairs.

Here are some best practices to get what you need while getting seen, heard and remembered.


  1. Have a clear vision – know why you are applying to independent schools. Have expectations.
  2. Be the best version of you -simply put, make a good impression.
  3. Walk-in with enthusiasm and curiosity -while confident in the value your child and your family can bring to a school, show a strong interest in learning what schools have to offer. Get name/contact info of the representative (parent reps too.)


  1. Stick & Move -be prepared to ask a good question (not one easily found on the website) and then move on so others have a chance to engage too.
  2. Older kids should ask the question -good eye contact and a firm handshake go a long way. Younger children are always welcome, yet tag team with significant other, relative or friend to support the little ones when they get tired.
  3. Attend workshops or panel discussions -some fairs will offer more. Take advantage of the opportunity to engage more with decision makers and families/students currently enrolled at schools


  1. Make notes about your interactions -take these notes and compare them with your open house experiences. Do you see and feel what it is they are promoting?
  2. Have the last words with a thank you -contact the representative (current parent or student included) you spoke with and follow-up with a thank-you-note and question, if applicable.
  3. Remain visible  -attend as many school recruitment events as possible. There are hundreds of families just as amazing as yours applying.

*Let RIISE Fall Boutique Recruitment Event be one of your last stops on Sunday, 10.21-register today at

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