With more than 20 years of experience in education advocacy, New York Edge CEO Rachael Gazdick leads the organization’s mission to build equity in education and provide thousands of K-12 students with free, engaging programs that help them grow academically and personally. Previously, Gazdick served as president and CEO of Colorado’s “I Have A Dream” Foundation and as executive director of Say Yes to Education Syracuse.
What inspired you to pursue a career in education?
I am very passionate about building equity in education. When children have access to opportunities, support and resources, they are more likely to grow with self-confidence, discover their strengths, and recognize that their dreams are well within reach. Access to enriching educational experiences truly changes lives, and this not only inspired me to pursue a career in education, but it’s what continues to inspire me every day to work toward removing barriers to academic success.
What aspects of education do you believe need more support from policymakers?
It is vital that our policymakers continue to support after school and summer initiatives. New York Edge’s free programming–including chess, fencing, STEM, step club, college and career preparation and more–improve academic performance, self-confidence, wellness and leadership. These initiatives are critical to the personal and professional development of students, providing them with the confidence, skills and tools needed to prepare for college and success in the workforce–building our city’s future leaders.
What do you think the future of New York’s education system looks like?
My hope is for after school programming to serve as an extension of the school day for all students, and for there to be more of an integrated approach between schools and afterschool programs. This approach has continued to prove successful through the city’s Summer Rising program, and it can–and should–be replicated during the school year. This would enable us to reach more youth in underinvested communities and remove barriers to success.