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June 2021

Volume 1 Issue 2


A Letter from the Executive Director

Dear Alliance Families and Friends,


Like most of you, I’ve had the opportunity throughout the last year to spend more time at home. During this newfound time at home, I’ve been thinking about all of the experiences that I’ve shared with my family. They are and were my silver lining throughout one of the most tumultuous years that I have ever experienced. My family and I have grown closer during the pandemic and for that, I am grateful.

Have you stopped to reflect on the things that you’re grateful for? Beyond my family, I am grateful to the previous cohorts of Alliance parents. They were the megaphone of our work and outreach. Due to the shutdowns associated with COVID-19, our outreach looked completely different and Cohort 37 (C37)

came to us 100% as a word of mouth cohort. I am grateful for an empowered cohort (C37) of students and families. They were fully invested in our process with a lot of uncertainty about what the end would look like in this new world. To be clear, we still haven’t even met C37 in person. However, they were the indispensable foundation for our work throughout the past year. Our students and families remain strong and resilient despite the many barriers they face. Recognizing the additional hardships that pandemic has presented, our team continues to respond with great care, generosity, and flexibility.

With the recent completion of our C38 outreach cycle, I am also grateful to those families that continue to champion the work of the Alliance by telling friends and families about the best kept secret in the Greater Los Angeles area. 


I am grateful to my team and the staff of the Alliance. The team pivoted to a completely virtual program while continuing to provide unwavering support to the students and families of C37 throughout the cycle with hard work, dedication, and overall professionalism. Throughout the last year, the staff of the Alliance worked to thoughtfully reboot our processes and pilot a new operating system while keeping our core values and families central to all decision making.


Danielle Edwards is in a class by herself. I offer a tribute to her particular genius with relationship management, databases of all sorts, her humor and sound judgment, and her formidable knowledge of the field of Los Angeles area independent schools. I am grateful to have worked with her and wish her well in her newest endeavor at Harvard-Westlake School. 


I am grateful to the member schools of the Alliance for the many energizing and collaborative conversations that we’ve had throughout the last year. By my count, during the last year, excluding our Fall and Spring Membership Meetings, my team and I met with at least forty-five of our member schools throughout the year. Some of those meetings took place over multiple days. Those conversations happened with students, the admissions teams, senior administration, head of schools, and with members of the board. We were able to listen and offer to support our schools as they continue to grapple with creating truly inclusive communities. This is not easy work and I am grateful to have partners in our member schools willing to do the hard and inconvenient work.


I am grateful to the Board of Directors of the Alliance. We owe a tremendous debt to those board members who have generously taken time, under the most daunting of circumstances, to provide leadership and guidance to the various stages of work of the Alliance. In addition, our board has enthusiastically provided resourcefulness and passion for the mission of the Alliance and have sustained us in our efforts to provide educational access to students. I owe a special thank you to board chair, Jeff Clifford. The experience of collaborating with you throughout the last year has been both stimulating and rewarding. 


Moving forward, we will continue to work hard to center racial equity, align our systems for accountability, foster a community of belonging with our cohort, and make space for critical conversations with our member schools. And as the country continues to reopen, we (my team and I) are taking those hard lessons learned from this past year and forging ahead. Sharpened by adversity and our mission statement, we look forward to continuing to partner with the Board to deliver on our mission to empower children of exceptional talent and potential from racially underrepresented and economically underserved communities in order to transform independent schools and society.


In the spirit of gratitude, I invite you to read this second issue of the Culture of Equity. The name Culture of Equity was chosen by the Team at the Alliance to remind us of our mission and highest aspirations. In this issue, you’ll have the opportunity to hear from an Alliance alumna that’s also working to center racial equity in one of our member schools. You’ll also have the opportunity to read about the work of the Alliance over the last few months.

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Rob Evans

Executive Director

Celebrating Summer Medford
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Summer Medford joined the Alliance in Kindergarten and graced the Crossroads School community with her buoyant personality and tenacious spirit. She had recently become a cherished and invaluable member of our Youth Leadership Program -- exhibiting diligence, self-determination, courage, and profound optimism. 


Summer achieved true prolificacy during the span of her 14 years - always striving, always inspiring others to rise to their true purpose and passions.

On what would be Summer's 16th Birthday - her family will be committing her Ashes to Our Divine Savior Mausoleum at Holy Cross Cemetery in Culver City.   

Alliance Community: Let’s surround Summer's Urn with love by filling her Niche (11'' x 11''x 11'' inches) with symbols of our affection.

You're invited to Surrounding Summer's Urn with Love - July 5, 2021 - 11:30am 

Details in the following link - see message from host:

Celebration of our Seniors

“Today We Celebrate a New Beginning”

– Elijah DeVaughn, Jr., Harvard College Class of 2021

The Independent School Alliance Office will be closed beginning Saturday, June 19th - Monday, July 5th
We will return on Tuesday, July 6th

In the World of Admissions

Cohort 37

Cohort 37 will always hold a special place in our hearts. Navigating the admissions process during a pandemic proved to be one of the most challenging efforts. Our students and families showed resilience, flexibility and trusted us to guide them throughout. The results showed with 96% of them receiving admission into an independent school! 

Parents, please click here to let us know your final school choice and how we can keep in touch with you. We are so proud of your students and look forward to hearing about all of their accomplishments and experiences in your new school community!
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Cohort 38

The Alliance has enjoyed meeting more than 500 families at our information sessions! We hope to continue to get to know you better as we enter the Applicant Phase of our process. 

Consistent with last year’s cycle, C38 outreach continued in a remote environment and we leveraged our relationships with current Alliance families, community based organizations, feeder schools and other influencers to help support our efforts for the quarter.

Alliance Scholars and Alums

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Last week marked the one-year anniversary of the murder of George Floyd.  His shocking death, compounded by the extreme pain from the deaths of Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor, set against the backdrop of the systemic inequality, inequity, and injustice, was illuminated during a global pandemic. Each moment sparked debates across the country about what children should know about race, racism, America’s troubled past, when those discussions should start, and who should lead them.  

The Coronavirus pandemic of 2020 (and 2021) took a serious toll on all of us, on our children, and on our loved ones, both near and far.  We were forced into the “new normal” of managing distance learning, working from home or risking our health to work outside the home, battling isolation, and trying to remember to eat and sleep.

Communities of color were hit particularly hard by the impact of Covid-19 in a myriad of ways, specifically through the disproportionate rates of infection and mortality among Black, Latinx, and Indigenous people.  Further complicating the impact of the pandemic was the emergence of a twin pandemic: a racial reckoning that brought awareness to the fact that people from historically marginalized backgrounds have had and continue to have vastly different experiences in America than those of the dominant culture due to immeasurable pervasive systemic barriers preventing these groups’ enjoyment of a full and free life.


We have been made aware of the “hidden” trauma facing students of color manifested from personal and familial consequences of the pandemic including financial insecurity, exposure to illness and death, isolation, the fear of contracting the virus, evictions and deportations.  I would posit that there is also a significant amount of trauma being inflicted on our children stemming from the consequences of the twin pandemic including a heightened awareness of racism, bias, and constant exposure to media that feature people of color being harmed and killed.  Most detrimental is the denial that racism even exists and victim-blaming.  In adults, this racial trauma has been stated to manifest through heightened anxiety, depression, and a general feeling of insecurity and lack of safety.  But how does it manifest in our children?  Checking in with our kids is critical.                                                                                                                                                       


Independent schools have an important role in these efforts. First, it is important that we listen - to the students, to the families, and to the faculty.  Listen and be open to receive and respond to what you hear.  Critically look at your curriculum and decide whose voices are unrepresented or missing.  Celebrate difference.  Honor culture.  Educate your community of the importance of being an upstander and an ally, or as Dr. Bettina Love, author of We Want to Do More Than Survive, says, a co-conspirator.   Long after the pandemic is behind us, we will still have to continue important work that will embrace the humanity within our communities allowing us to learn from one another and grow together.  


The stillness and solitude of the pandemic forced the world to take notice of what many of us lived our entire lives knowing and understanding but was new information to so many.  This duality perpetuates harm to our communities. Perhaps this is finally the moment where our collective effort results in a seismic shift in how we see and know each other.


I am hopeful. 



Dr. Martinique Starnes is the Director of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Justice at Westside Neighborhood School where she is also a parent.  This summer she was named the 2021 Outstanding Educational Leader for Social Justice by the School of Education at Loyola Marymount University. Dr. Starnes is an alum of the Independent School Alliance and attended Pilgrim School. Dr. Starnes is also serving on the Alliance’s Membership Task Force whose goal is to provide guidance around the way Alliance partners with its current and potential members schools.

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Calling All Alliance Alums

Let the Alliance Community know what is new in your life! We'd love to connect and reconnect!

Click Here!

Opportunities & Resources

Come join the Independent School Alliance!
The Alliance is looking to hire two new positions. We invite you to share far and wide.
Admissions Coordinator -
Administrative Assistant -
If you or someone you know have interest please visit the links above.


Are you interested in volunteering?


Summer – In Person Programs
June 14 – Sept. 3​

More information Click Here!


Upcoming Events

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Mechellet Armelin
  • Event Planner
  • Across Colors Diversity Conference, 2017 & 2021
  • Independent School Alliance Family since 2005
  • Brentwood School Parent
Jeanine Kay
  • Sponsorship Co-Chair 
  • Across Colors Diversity Conference, 2021
  • Advisory Council Member for the Independent School Alliance
  • Independent School Parent
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Kelly Gorman
  • Planning Co-Chair
  • Across Colors Diversity Conference, 2021
  • Advisory Council Member for the Independent School Alliance
  • Independent School Parent
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Janine Hancock Jones
  • Program Co-Chair
  • Across Colors Diversity Conference, 2021
  • Harvard Westlake's first Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion / Associate Director of Admission
  • Harvard Westlake Parent
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Kirsten Albrecht 
  • Event Co-Chair
  • Across Colors Diversity Conference, 2021
  • Advisory Council Member for the Independent School Alliance
  • Independent School Parent

The Independent School Alliance is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Our work relies on the generosity of our donors. To make a tax-deductible gift to the Alliance, click the Donate button below.

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