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September 2021

Volume 2 Issue 1


Why Alliance Families Are
Choosing Independent Schools
By Rob Evans

The counseling and support of the 38th cohort (C38) of Independent School Alliance Candidates and their families are well underway. As part of that support, families have the opportunity to share their aspirations, goals, and desired outcomes for their child’s or children’s education. During our individual meetings with families, we are building one-on-one relationships that enable the Alliance to share our knowledge, provide guidance on the best possible match considering their stated family values, and provide advocacy with our member schools. We are the shoulder families can lean on throughout the entire admission process.


For sure, there are  barriers that students and families of color face in accessing and applying to an independent school are complicated. It's clear that the largest perceived barrier with independent schools for families of color is the lack of helpful and sufficient information. When asked, however, why they were choosing to place their child in an independent school, there were many reasons selected with the following two main themes emerging:

  1. The name of the school is of less concern than the ability to find an appropriate “match” that meets the needs of their individual students.

  2. Families still need much more help finding the best match, even as information and technology have made schools more visible. 

Parents shared how independent schools seemed better equipped and more knowledgeable about education, leading to a more positive experience for children. In the same conversations,  parents repeatedly acknowledged how challenging it is to select the type of school that is best for their children. Using language from a recent study from the National Association of Independent Schools on why families choose independent schools, C38 families overwhelmingly cited their interests in an independent school as primarily about identifying a school that would “support the social and emotional development—not just test scores and academic curriculum—so they will be well-rounded and productive in society.” (Torres, 2019)


Some of the families cited smaller class sizes and more individualized attention for students. Other families emphasized the opportunities for more challenging coursework, more exposure to the arts, access to different languages, and most importantly, a great emphasis placed on core values and service to the community.


Indeed, while all of the parents wanted quality academic and social supports geared to their child’s unique needs, the parents of C38 are overwhelmingly more interested in finding a school community that will support the whole child for the benefit of the students and society, regardless of the school name.


To get support in finding an appropriate school home for their child or children, families shared all of the various ways they have attempted to find a school home. Throughout the conversations with parents of C38, they informed us that they reached out to other families on social media and in-person to find out about their actual lived experiences at a particular school: about the school culture, parent involvement, type of learning environment, quality of education, and racialized experiences.


During our time with individual families, they shared that they gathered information through friends and neighbors, and sometimes from educators at their current school who had strong opinions about the best match as a student prepares to transition to a new school.


​​Parents we spoke with said they were diligent about doing their research online but did not know what information they could trust, which is why they relied so heavily on word-of-mouth information and why they ultimately decided to work with the Alliance. They trusted the Alliance to know the educational philosophies, programs, opportunities, and teaching practices the schools claimed to offer would match reality if their children were to enroll. With over 36 years  of experience, relationships, and expertise, parents repeatedly highlighted how much more they trusted information from the Alliance about the practices and philosophies of independent schools than glossy brochures and website marketing materials. 

In the end, all families applying for independent schools must find the school that provides the best match, assess whether schools and educators are providing the right supports, and once enrolled, constantly advocate for their children. For the families of cohort 38, the final school choice will depend on the social needs of their child and their child’s learning style. But, equally, if not more important, who the school would help the child become.

In the World of Admissions
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Calling All Alliance Seniors

Class of 2022, we'd love to celebrate you in the Spring! We will be highlighting your college decisions and awarding four scholarships.


Click Here to stay informed.

Reflections from Alumna Azizi Williams
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Azizi Williams

Head of School 

Children's Community School

As a student in independent schools growing up, I had moments when I wondered if I belonged. There were very few students in my schools who looked like me, no educators in my classes shared my identity and school culture norms felt foreign. In my 8th grade, my family had the privilege of partnering with the Independent School Alliance to support my transition into high school. There was a palpable sense of comfort when I visited with the Alliance staff as they guided my family and I through the admissions process. I later learned that the Alliance advocated on my behalf to attend the school I was most interested in. The Alliance events for high school students 

created spaces for me to connect with other students of color in independent schools. Participating in these gatherings was the first time I didn’t feel alone navigating race in institutions that hadn’t yet learned how to invite student perspectives or support. Because of experiences like the ones I had with Alliance, I’ve dedicated my life to supporting all student’s sense of belonging in independent schools. I want students of color, students on financial aid, non-binary students- all students to feel welcomed in our schools.


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Across Colors Diversity Conference is thrilled to announce our keynote speakers. Our first speaker Nikole Hannah-Jones covers racial injustice for The New York Times Magazine, and has spent years chronicling the way official policy has created—and maintains—racial segregation in housing and schools. Her deeply personal reports on the Black experience in America offer a compelling case for greater equity.


Hannah-Jones is the creator of the New York Times Magazine’s “The 1619 Project,” about the history and lasting legacy of American slavery, for which her powerful introductory essay was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for commentary. She is currently writing a book on school segregation called The Problem We All Live With, to be published on the One World imprint of Penguin/Random House.


Our next keynote speaker: noted author Clint Smith, staff writer at The Atlantic. He is the author of the narrative nonfiction book, How the Word Is Passed: A Reckoning With the History of Slavery Across America which was a #1 New York Times Bestseller.


Additionally, Clint is the author of the poetry collection Counting Descent, which won the 2017 Literary Award for Best Poetry Book from the Black Caucus of the American Library Association and was a finalist for an NAACP Image Award.

Join us November 6, 2021 for the Across Colors Diversity Conference.

Inviting Member School Heads

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Opportunities & Resources


Join LAIS for their

Upcoming Seminars!


Click Here for more Information

Roadmap to Independent

School Admission

September 29, 2021

November 3, 2021

6:00-7:00 PM


Kindergarten Admission Seminar

October 6, 2021

6:00-7:00 PM


Financial Aid Information Night

December 8, 2021

6:00-7:00 PM

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Why Do Independent Schools Exist?


You've read why Cohort 38 chose the Alliance, now read this really interesting piece on why independent school exists by John Gulla of the EE Ford Foundation. Enjoy!


Fiscal Year 2021 Donor Giving

Thank You to our Fiscal Year 2021 Donors!



A.B. Fischer

Abbey Landers

Abel and Tracy Lezcano

Aimee Richer

Aisha Hinds

Akieva & Martin Jacobs

Alan Braun

Alec Hampton

Alena & John Hwang

Alexa & Alex Amin

Alexandra Rojas & Kent Weed

Alice Thomas

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Alyson Messenger

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Alysse & Gordon Bobb

Amanda Gates

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Andrew Horne

Andrew Howard

Andrew Massa

Andrew Northup

Andrew Osborne

Andrew Robbins

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Angel Solano

Angela Alston

Angela Robinson

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Ann Diederich

Anne Tait

Ann-Marie Whitman

Anthony Locke

April King

Arry Yaghmai & Ahmad Moalej

Azizi Williams

Benjamin Brainard

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Blake Hillemeyer

Bob Riddle

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Brian Smith

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Christine Zhang

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Daniel Zweben

Danielle & Brian Edwards

Dannielle Carter

Danny Aliaga

Daryl Cramer

David Brenner

David Cropper

David Hammerman

David Heyman

Dawn Cunnion

Debra Langford

Deedyre Burks

Delphine Sourian

Dennis Ellis

Desha Dauchan

Earle LeMasters

Ed Young

Eddie Ishaq

Edward Gargiulo

Edward Hu

Efrem Bryant

Eli Edwards

Elizabeth McGregor

Elizabeth Sayre

Elsa Ramo

Elva Ephriam

Emebet Berhanu

Eric Barber

Eric Brent

Eric Chandler

Eric Mahoney

Eric Michels

Erica Wheeler

Ethel Biosah

Evan Smith

Evan Spiridellis

Fallon & Brent Epstein

Francisco Cruz

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Galit & Brian Laibow

Galit & Gavin Donnelly

Gavin Curd

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Jennifer Au

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Lauren Stewart

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Ruth English

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Stephen Motta

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Suxi Li

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Bowman Medical Group

Bronfman Hauptman Foundation

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Charities Aid Foundation of America

Crossroads School for Arts & Sciences

Curtis School


First Republic Bank

Flakky Foyeh, Inc.

Fleiss Family Fund

Flowerlink, LLC

Fortress Investment Group

Frends Beauty Supply, Inc.

Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP

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Hampson-Medina Family Fund

Hart In The House

Harvard-Westlake School

Jewish Communal Fund

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Network For Good

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Raytheon Company

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Shapiro/Schwartz Family Fund

Shelley Davis CEO and Founder

of Kinky-Curly

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Sony Pictures Ent. Inc.

Test Innovators Inc.

The Archer School for Girls

The Blackbaud Giving Fund

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The Jewish Community Foundation

The Jim Cox Jr. Foundation

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The Simon-Strauss Foundation

The Terry Family Charitable Fund

The Walt Disney Company Foundation

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The Wesley School

Turning Point School

Velvet Film

Westmount Asset Management

Westridge School for Girls

Westside Neighborhood School

Windward School

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