Model & Strategy

Empower Schools partners with communities to help them get the schools they want with the results their students need.  Empower works with policymakers, district and community leaders, and educators to re-engineer traditional school systems into diverse education ecosystems centered on empowered and accountable schools.  Empower has led successful efforts in Lawrence (MA), and served as the design and launch partner for the ground breaking Springfield Empowerment Zone Partnership (MA) and Denver’s first Innovation Zone.

Empower’s Third Way approach combines the autonomies and energetic innovation of charter schools with the critical commitment to universal service and local voice of districts.  Empower captures and shares the most promising Third Way practices to inform and shape the national and local conversations and public policies on education reform.

Empower schools logo
At a Glance
Founded: 2013
Co-Founders & Partners: Brett Alessi & Chris Gabrieli
Education
Location of work: Domestic, Northeast, Midwest
Empower Schools
Boston, MA
We believe in a third way and empowered schools
Little girl raises her hand in class
Empower Schools entrepreneurs
Meet Brett Alessi & Chris Gabrieli

Prior to launching Empower Schools, Brett ran the New Initiative group at Massachusetts 2020.  Previously, he led the Greater Boston and New England region for Education Pioneers, a national nonprofit focused on developing leaders for the education sector. His work in the private sector includes designing and leading the corporate social responsibility efforts for Revolution Health, an early-stage venture backed by AOL co-founder Steve Case.  Brett began his career as a classroom teacher and taught in public and private schools at the elementary and secondary levels before helping to start a think tank focused on youth civic engagement in Washington DC.  Brett graduated from Middlebury College and earned his master’s in education from Brown University.

Chris has been at the forefront of several movements to expand educational opportunity and improve schooling including his long time leadership of the Massachusetts and national movement to expand learning time for disadvantaged students.  In addition to leading Empower, he serves as Chairman of the Massachusetts Board of Higher Education, and is a lecturer at Harvard’s Graduate School of Education. He is also a Partner Emeritus at Bessemer Venture Partners where he helped entrepreneurs build biotechnology and healthcare companies and began his business career as the founder and CEO of GMIS, a medical software company that became the leader in its field and a publicly traded company.  Chris has been active in civic and political life in Massachusetts including winning the Democratic primary for Lt. Governor in 2002 and coming in second in the Democratic primary for Governor in 2006.  Chris and his wife live in Boston where they have raised five children, the oldest of whom is now an elementary school teacher in the Hartford, CT public schools.

Impact

Empower helped launch the successful turnaround effort in Lawrence (MA), and served as the design and launch partner for the groundbreaking Springfield Empowerment Zone Partnership (MA), the Luminary Learning Network, Northeast Denver Innovation Zone and Beacon Network Schools (CO), Transformation Waco, Lubbock Partnership Network, Rural Schools Innovation Network, and Leadership Academy Network (TX), the Consortium Partnership Network (MO), and the South Bend Empowerment Zone (IN), collectively serving ~35,000 students. There is a strong interest in the Zone concept in many other communities and states.

Early student outcome data in Springfield is promising. Three emerging leading schools increased the percentage of students reaching proficiency in ELA and math by at least 8, and up to 17 points in two years. In Denver, the Luminary Learning Network (LLN) and Northeast Denver Innovation Zone (NDIZ) outperformed Denver Public Schools’ mean scores in closing Achievement Gaps, Student Growth, and Student Achievement. One NDIZ school received the second-highest score in Family and Student Satisfaction across all Denver schools.

  • To support school leaders deepening their understanding of autonomy, we're so excited to partnered with Teach For A… https://t.co/CNdZDEPItq
  • HUGE congrats to @TransformWaco for winning the Full-Service Community Schools Program grant from @usedgov! A well-… https://t.co/2OeAVacPRF
  • RT @nsvf: We are offering $215,000 in planning grants to teams designing new, innovative public schools launching in Fall 2024. Register fo…
  • RT @TranscendBuilds: Calling all educators and innovators! Need funding and support to launch a new, innovative school in fall 2024? @NSVF…
  • Highlighting an amazing first-of-its-kind collective - the Southwest Colorado Education Collaborative! Career pathw… https://t.co/Y0aTgF132I
  • Excited to announce Alyssa Morton as our new CEO! "[This] builds from our first decade of results & sets the stag… https://t.co/VGh5m0vBfG
  • The Fremont Multidistrict Initiative in CO helps students find pathways to careers. Canon City @CCSchoolsRe1, Frem… https://t.co/v82MJYrGJQ
  • RT @educationgadfly: Pull back the curtain on the real-life outcomes of high school graduates, by Christi Martin https://t.co/JW1iPEosjZ
  • Empower is proud to support @LafParishSchool 's PreEducator Pathway through @La_Believes LDOE's Reimagine School Sy… https://t.co/g2wysm0I3Z
  • We are expanding our team and currently hiring for an Events Coordinator role. Apply by 12/19 or send to someone yo… https://t.co/YlfDifw78P
  • Inspiring work happening in SW Colorado- building pathways and opportunities for students through collaborative and… https://t.co/HdMu01QLy6
  • We're hiring a Senior Manager, Communications! This is our first communications-focused position and a reflection o… https://t.co/R4uqzilldy
  • Shout out to Southwest Colorado Education Collaborative developing pathways for students in rural SW CO! More at… https://t.co/gBcjbQ66cB
  • RT @ThomaArt: The Thoma Foundation has awarded $200,000 to Empower Schools. This grant funds the pilot of the LeadRural Fellowship—a coordi…
  • RT @DCATexas: An exciting night as we had our San Antonio Area Partnerships dinner with @EmpowerSchools. So happy to welcome San Antonio I…
  • Energized to partner with @ThomaArt on LeadRural Fellowship! Director Holly Harrison “We need strong, empowered lea… https://t.co/rjEZAt6NeZ
  • Congrats to Sally Kim and Marissa Ramos, both educators at the Springfield Empowerment Zone Partnership who are sem… https://t.co/ywOqNiKHG3
  • RT @RandolphEastern: We had a great meeting with Community Stakeholders and UC students this morning. Working together to redefine what e…
  • RT @csdewitt: Always a joy to hear from the transformational leaders at the Rural Schools Innovation Zone! @RSIZ4GMikeG @tasanet @tasbnews