Clairelise Rodriguez is a past member of the 50CAN team. 

This week’s update comes from New York State, where I interviewed Executive Director Christina Grant about the state of NYCAN: The New York Campaign for Achievement Now, set to launch in January 2012.

 I heard last week you were pretty busy last week organizing a convening on education policy. Can you tell us more about what it was?

Last week NYCAN, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and the State University of New York convened New York State education stakeholders to discuss post-secondary progress and college readiness in New York State.  It was a unique opportunity for people to learn more about the Gates Foundation and their 2012 education priorities while fostering a critical conversation about the current state of education in New York and the role different groups play in helping our kids succeed.  We had many presentations by guest speakers, including Regent Lester Young and Deputy Secretary of Education David Wakelyn.  

How did it go?

We’re sending out a survey to get feedback from the attendees, but early indicators lead me to believe that it went really well.  It was a long, information-packed day, but I think attendees left energized and ready to be change agents in moving the needle for the children in this state. 

What else are you working on?

We are in the process of setting the policy agenda for our inaugural year and I’m still in the search for amazing folks to join the NYCAN team.  

What’s your favorite part of the job so far?

Gosh – so many answers to that question!  I’m loving the process of really understanding the complexities of education policy in New York State.  I’m loving the process of building my team and meeting so many great people who want to join NYCAN.  Since my last blog I traveled through upstate New York and drove over 1000 miles truly exploring my home state.  New York is full of resources, great people and individuals who really want what’s best for their children, and I’m eager to make sure NYCAN represents the voice of the voiceless. 

As you meet with people, what seems to be the issue people are most interested in when it comes to the state of education in New York?

Simply – how do we collectively do more with less.  We are faced with harsh economic times and in an education system where we spend more money per child per year in this state we have to figure out how to use our resources in a more efficient and effective way that continues to push for stronger outcomes for our students.  

What do you think will be the most challenging part of your job?

Getting it right for the children of the state of New York.  Only advocacating for the policies that will truly set our children up for success and change the trajectory for their lives. 

How can New Yorkers get involved with NYCAN now?

People can now sign up for NYCAN’s mailing list by going to I urge everyone to sign up now so you can be the first to hear when NYCAN officially launches.


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