On June 19 and 20 enso and Public Counsel convened more than 100 leaders and activists from the worlds of education, pop culture, public policy, business, civil rights, design, and philanthropy gathered around the shared belief that access to literacy is a basic right, not a privilege.

First, we heard directly from students and teachers in marginalized communities like Detroit about conditions in schools that would have shocked our consciences a hundred years ago, let alone today. We heard from experts in education that universal access to literacy is solvable if we can galvanize the public will to face it head on, from a place of strength and dignity. And we heard from activists that in order to bring unexpected allies together behind a shared vision for success, we need to stop talking to the head, and start speaking to the heart.

Next, we broke into teams to work on framing the problem around the simple truth that our failure to provide equal access to literacy for all children puts our whole country at risk, while our success in giving all kids a chance to shine can create a brighter future for every American.

This is just the beginning of our work together. And it won’t be done until everyone, regardless of background or circumstance, has equal access and opportunity to learn and meaningfully participate in our democracy.





We all know people who are active in this space and should be involved in our radically-inclusive mission. So reach out and invite them to participate in making the literacy crisis infamous, and the need to collectively solve it urgent.


With the other participants from your teams, and the broader coalition we’re building. Offer to help others in this fight, and ask for support in your own efforts. Together, we can accomplish more, faster.


If there’s anything that you can contribute, be it ideas, shared resources, introductions, influence, or stories, we want to hear from you at





John king

John B. King Jr. is the president and CEO of The Education Trust, a national nonprofit organization that seeks to identify and close opportunity and achievement gaps, from preschool through college. King served as the U.S. Secretary of Education from 2016 to 2017 as a member of President Barack Obama’s administration. Before becoming education secretary and beginning in January 2015, King carried out the duties of the U.S. Deputy Secretary of Education, overseeing all policies and programs related to P-12 education, English learners, special education, and innovation. In this role, King also oversaw the agency’s operations. King joined the department following his tenure as the first African American and Puerto Rican to serve as New York State Education Commissioner, a post he held from 2011 to 2015. King began his career in education as a high school social studies teacher in Puerto Rico and Boston, Mass., and as a middle school principal.


Raul Herrara + gordon ip of GetLit


Get Lit — Words Ignite brings classic poetry to the streets and street poetry into the classrooms. By engaging youth in great works of literature, in-school and beyond, teens engage in their own futures and unearth their potential. 

Gordon Ip is a nationally recognized speaker, performer, and poet. He has been with Get Lit for 5 years as a Get Lit Player, peer mentor, and Literati Fellow, and a teaching artist.
In 2015, he lead the East Los Angeles College Speech team to the National Championship, acquiring several championship awards himself along the way. He was recently featured in the viral #ThatsNotLove campaign, a short film created to highlight the problem of domestic abuse on college campuses. He is currently a student at the University of Nebraska and cast member of Get Lit’s original musical, DANTE.

Raul Herrera is a freshman at University of Nebraska and a captain of their forensics team. He seeks to support at-risk youth in self-expression and confidence building. In 2012, Raul received the Volunteer Award at the National Philanthropy Day Awards for his exceptional leadership efforts; and in 2011, his stellar poetry garnered him an invitation to the White House. As of 2014, he is a multi-gold medalist at the Phi Rho Pi National Championship for Speech & Debate and California’s recipient of the Speech & Debate Pentathlon Award.


Amanda Gorman

Called the 'next great figure of poetry in the US', at 19-years-old Amanda Gorman is a published author and the first ever Youth Poet Laureate of the United States of America. Her first poetry book, "The One For Whom Food Is Not Enough", was published in 2015. A Harvard freshman, she has worked as a U. N. Youth Delegate at the UN Headquarters in New York City, a HERlead Fellow in training with girl leaders in D.C. and London, and an Ambassador for the feminist platform School of Doodle. She has been published in The Huffington Post,, and award-winning anthologies. At 16 she founded the community project One Pen One Page, which promotes literacy and youth activism.


Dr. David kirkland 

David is the Executive Director of The NYU Metropolitan Center for Research on Equity and The Transformation of Schools. He is an activist and educator, cultural critic and author. A leading national scholar and advocate for educational justice, Dr. Kirkland's transdisciplinary scholarship explores a variety of equity related topics: school climate and discipline; school integration and choice; culture and education; vulnerable learners; and intersections among race, gender, and education.

why we can't ignore this crisis

(left to right) 

Dr. David Kirkland

Coach Williams is a parent and basketball coach at Osborne Evergreen Academy. 

Shalon Miller has been a teacher at Detroit public schools for 15 years and is now teaching at the Medicine and Community Health Academy at Cody. She is the author of the piece 'Why Is Separate and Unequal Okay in 2016?' 

Jamarria Hall is an alumni of Osborne Evergreen Academy in Detroit and an student voice and activist for the right to literacy. 

how we turn individual intention into collective action

(from left to right)

Manny Rivera is a Director at RALLY, specializing in strategic communications, including issue management and media relations. During his time at RALLY, Manny has served as the media lead for a number of clients with high-profile, national media campaigns including Students Matter, American Foundation for Equal Rights, Sandy Hook Promise, and the California Endowment. 

Mark Hutchins is the Los Angeles office managing partner and served on KPMG’s board of directors with more than 33 years of experience providing risk management and advisory services. Mark was an Audit partner and subsequently started KPMG’s Risk Advisory Services practice in the Western region. He was the national lead partner for Enterprise Risk Management (ERM) services for the banking and finance practice and led Sarbanes-Oxley Section 404 efforts for major companies.

Terri McDonald is the Chief Probation Officer with the Los Angeles County Probation Department. She is a former assistant sheriff for LA County Sheriff's Department, overseeing the Custody Division. McDonald is a 24-year veteran of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, where she served as under-secretary for operations.

Mara Abrams is Managing Director of Census Open Innovation Labs at the U.S. Census Bureau, and is the former head of Global Innovation Partnerships @ Nike Foundation, where she supported new business models to alleviate poverty for adolescent girls. Mara is also the founder of Cuba's first startup incubator; and the co-founder of an organization teaching low-income communities how to tell their own stories through filmmaking.

What we need to mobilize now 

(left to right) 

Hillary Moglen is a principal at RALLY where she manages leadership development within the firm and provides strategic communications and campaign guidance across a diverse group of accounts, including Students Matter, XQ’s Super School Project and among others. With a robust background in policy and law, Hillary is adept at simplifying high-stakes, complex ideas and policy challenges, and transforming them into actionable, results-focused campaigns.

Robert Raben is the founder and president of the Washington, D.C.-based lobbying and consulting firm The Raben Group, and was Assistant Attorney General at the Department of Justice under former President Bill Clinton. In addition to having a seat on the boards of several non-profit organizations, Raben is known as a bipartisan player for progressive change in Washington after being named a top lobbyist by Washington Life magazine, The Hill, and Washingtonian magazine.

Catherine Lhamon is the Chair of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. Before the Commission, Lhamon served as the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Education. Prior to joining the Department of Education, Lhamon was director of impact litigation at Public Counsel. Before that, she practiced for a decade at the ACLU of Southern California, ultimately as assistant legal director.

Jason Nichols is an Executive Creative Director at enso, playing a key role in overseeing integrated brand platforms for all of enso clients. He's an industry veteran who’s worked at top creative and digital shops in Los Angeles and New York with brands like Google, PepsiCo, GE, Microsoft and Nike.

Mark Gonzales is a futurist whose work sits at the center of strategy, story and epigenetics. His impact portfolio spans 20 years and over 15 countries including: Stanford University, The United Nations Alliance of Civilizations, the TIDES foundation, the World Islamic Economic Forum and the iconic #WeThePeople campaign that made kickstarter history. With a unique research focus on "how human beings, for better or worse, learn to be human" he is reshaping our understanding of change making.


Mark Rosenbaum


Mark is the director of Opportunity Under Law and the lead counsel on the case. His career has been marked with landmark civil rights cases relating to race, gender and poverty, education, voting rights, police practices, criminal defendants’ rights, homelessness and international human rights. Prior to joining Public Counsel in 2014, Rosenbaum spent four decades with the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California, most recently as Chief Counsel, and was its legal director for over 10 years.

thank you to all our participants

Adam Fletcher / Aida Palma Carpio / Alisa Hartz / Alysha English / Amanda Gorman / Amanda Hunt / Ana Aguirre / Ana Ponce / Andrew Guzman / Anne Hudson-Price / Antonio Villaraigosa / Ashley White / Asil Yassine / Austin Dove / Barbara Facher / Bhavna Sivanand / Bill Raden / Bill Thompson / Brad Phillips / Brian Muhammad / Brian Strange / Carla Fernandez / Catherine Brown / Catherine Lhamon / Charles Barth / Chris Edly / Chris Giglio / Christina Lindstrom / Coach Williams /Dan Clivner /Dan Goldman /Daniel Aguilar / Danielle Tenner / David Johnson / David Kirkland / Diane Lane / Dixon Slingerland / Dolores Huerta / Ebram Naftzger / Elizabeth Hadaway / Ellie Song / Erica Schlaikjer / Gary Blasi / Gerald Cantu / Gingger Shankar / Glenn Rothner / Glenna Avila / Gordon Ip / Henry Elkus / Henry Weinstein / Hillary Moglen / Iris Zuniga / Jackie Wei / Jama Adams / Jamarria Hall / James Lanich / Jason Nichols / Jasper Goggins / Jaylene Chung / Jeanne Hoel / Jen Martindale / Jenna Greene / Jennifer Bezoza / Jennifer Braun / Jesse Noonan / Jessica Gomez / Joan Wicks / John Kim / John King / John Szabo / Jon Moscone / Josh Conviser / Josh LeVine / Joy Resmovits / Juan Devis / Kathryn Eidmann / Kerry Stranman / Lauren Lowenthal / Leah Bernthal / Libby Jacobson / Lila Kalaf Reiner / Linda Lopez / Liz Dwyer / Manny Rivera / Mara Abrams / Margaret Morrow / Mark Gonzales / Mark Hutchins / Mark Rosenbaum / Marleen Wong / Marshall Tuck / Mathew Swenson /Melissa Orozco /Micah Ali / Michael Cirelli / Michael Kelley / Michael Riley / Michael Smith / Mikaal Sulaiman / Monica Groves / Nicole Katz / Noah Steinberg / Paul Heavenridge / Paul Ryan / Pedro Noguera / Rabeya Sen / Raul Herrera / Rob Kramer / Robert Raben / Rupa Balasubramanian / Sally Glass / Sam Durant / Sam Feinburg / Samara Rosenbaum / Samuel Garrett-Pate / Sara Zaidi / Sarah Bowman / Sarah Maiani / Sarah Worth / Satra Zurita / Sean Knierim / Sean McNamara / Sebastian Buck / Shalon Miller / Shelley Ong / Shlomy Kattan / Spencer Mar Guilburt / Sydney Kamlager Dove / Ted Lempert / Tom Unterman / Tracy Rice / Veronika Shulman / Viridiana Chabolla / Wes Clark Jr