Letter from our Cofounders

Letter from our Cofounders

When we founded AES in 1991 with Amy Dean (1950-2011) our goal was to create a solution focused organization that would help educational institutions and communities to meet the multicultural challenges of the 21st Century.

Our philosophy was simple – using research as a base (Bernie was a Sociology Professor Emeritus at Chico State) coupled with a hands on, experiential training approach (CC founded the Cross Cultural Leadership Center at Chico State) and advocacy (Amy was a social worker and political advocate), we would help build the capacity of schools, communities and organizations to have honest conversations about what was needed to support and engage the most challenged and marginalized young people. And then we would help them do it, at the local and state level.

Over the years the focus of our work has changed slightly, but the underlying values that guide it have remained steadfast. We are seeking solutions to the challenges young people face. We are working with young people to find those solutions. We are supporting and training young people to advocate for themselves and take on leadership positions. We are ensuring that adults in power create the space to listen to, and work with young people. We are focusing on what young people actually say they need and not what adults assume they should have. We are advocating for changes to meet those needs.

We continue to deepen the work of AES, and to advocate for both systemic change and cultural shifts at the school and district levels. We directly engage principals, teachers and students.

While Amy is no longer with us, her legacy as a social worker willing to engage the political process is particularly reflected in AES’s current work, with a legislative advocate on board to actively lobby on state education policy and budget issues in support of students in underperforming schools. Her passion and dedication will continue to be reflected in AES’s work.

As for us, we are committed to deepening the work of AES, expanding our reach using social media and an on-line network of like-minded stakeholders, to impact on a systemic level.

Our working partnership and close friendship spans three decades, and serves as continuing proof that differences in race, age, and life circumstances are no match for mutual trust, common values, and a shared passionate concern for the well being of all our young people.

We invite you to join us. And thank you for your support.