April 23, 2024

Introducing the 2024-2025 Freedom Dreams Lab Fellows

By Transcend

From designing equitable classrooms to publishing diverse young voices, the newest Freedom Dream Labs fellows are revolutionizing education by empowering and amplifying the next generation. This year’s fellows bring a powerful mix of experience in education equity, youth empowerment, and social justice to the table.

The Freedom Dreams Lab (FDL) is a transformative fellowship designed to empower and sustain leaders from Black, Indigenous, and other communities of Color in education. This nine month-long program offers a customized set of supports, resources and spaces for individuals and teams to iterate and refine learning experiences that foster leaps beyond the typical education paradigm.

FDL recognizes the inherent strengths and perspectives of BIPOC leaders. We tailor the program to each fellow’s vision and needs, leveraging the expertise and network of Transcend to provide adaptive support with sustainability in mind. Fellows gain access to research-backed resources and a vibrant peer community of practice, fostering collaboration as they develop, pilot, and share their groundbreaking models.

Beyond honing their skills, the Freedom Dreams Lab provides a nurturing environment for school and system Leaders of Color to deepen their impact. Rooted in lived experiences and rich backgrounds in education, fellows are encouraged to push boundaries and innovate, challenging the status quo in pursuit of extraordinary student outcomes.

Meet our 2024 Freedom Dreams Lab Fellows:

Donnell Cannon, Executive Director of Maureen Joy Charter 

Donnell Cannon, a native of Richmond, Virginia, gets excited about educational equity, radical inclusion, radical imagination, and raising up the power of young people. His favorite kind of work is designing, building, and spreading equitable learning environments that work for all children. He is the executive director of Maureen Joy Charter School where he is working with his young people to design a bold, new experience.

Anna Gabriella Casalme, Managing Director, Novelly

Anna Gabriella Casalme is the proud daughter of Filipino immigrants and a kid-lit writer. She is the founder of Novelly, which is on a mission to publish literature by diverse youth authors and get youth authors taught in classrooms. Anna received her MSc in Childhood Studies at the University of Edinburgh and her bachelor’s in Human Biology and Education from Stanford University. She is on the Forbes 30 under 30 list in Education for 2023.

Michele Hamilton, Founder/ Head of School, Pear Tree Community Schools

Michele Hamilton, an educator from East Oakland, channeled her educational challenges as a student into founding Pear Tree Community Schools. Her commitment to educational equity is evident in the school’s growth from a humble beginning with four children, to a significant educational establishment. Recognized for anti-bias practices and social justice curriculum, Michele’s work extends its influence nationally. Leading Pear Tree, she focuses on training educators, emphasizing transformational practices and fostering Liberatory structures in underserved communities.

Eric Knox, Executive Director/Founder, HOLLA 

Eric is the Founder and Executive Director of HOLLA, a culturally specific mentoring organization whose mission is to change the narrative of youth of color through culturally responsive relationships. Most recently, Eric founded HOLLA School which is a public charter school in the Rockwood neighborhood in east Portland. HOLLA School was developed to change the academic narratives of Black, Brown and Indigenous youth by honoring lived experiences, catalyzing genius and centering joy.

Dr. Janiece Mackey, Co-founder and CEO, Young Aspiring Americans for Social and Political Activism

Dr. Janiece Mackey is a wife and mother of four children. At 25 years old, she created an organization entitled Young Aspiring Americans for Social and Political Activism (YAASPA) to provide a conduit for BIPoC youth to reclaim academic, career, and civic spaces. She earned the Mayor’s Diversity Award, Nonprofit Women to Watch Award, 40 under 40 Denver Business Journal award, and beyond. Due to her converging interests in education and policy, she is a race scholar activist who has been a postdoctoral scholar and published many chapters and articles about race in education and public administration including the editing of the book entitled Black Girl Civics.

In its third year, the Freedom Dreams Lab will provide each fellow with a suite of supports including dedicated coaching support, in-person/virtual convenings, and a $10,000 stipend to enable the creation of liberatory learning models. Working with Transcend partners, Lyric Flood, Alisha Neptune, Samina Noorani Kingsley, Danielle Veal, Jeremy Williams & Saskia Op Den Bosch fellows will pilot and prepare to spread student experiences that drive towards Leaps in extraordinary, equitable 21st Century learning. Congratulations to our new fellows! 

Explore some of what we’ve learned thus far in The Freedom Dreams Lab here.


Transcend supports communities to create and spread extraordinary, equitable learning environments.

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