In 1998, longtime public school educator (and now Deputy Director at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation) Don Shalvey joined forces with Silicon Valley entrepreneur and Netflix founder Reed Hastings to launch Aspire Public Schools, one of the nation’s first charter management organizations. The mission Don and Reed set out to achieve was simple and straightforward, and it remains the same to this day: open and operate small, high-quality, college-prep charter schools in low-income neighborhoods.
Aspire now has 36 community-based schools serving over 15,500 students in California. Our schools range from TK through 12th grade, and College For Certain is the focus for every age group. Teachers and parents partner closely to ensure students are prepared to succeed in college, career, and life.
Aspire’s vision: Every student is prepared to earn a college degree.
Aspire’s mission is to open and operate small, high-quality charter schools in low-income neighborhoods, in order to:
- Increase the academic performance of underserved students
- Develop effective educators
- Share successful practices with other forward-thinking educators, and
- Catalyze change in public schools.
Aspire is committed to providing equitable opportunities for our students, families, and teammates. We use an equity lens to examine our policies, practices, and systems at Aspire to strive for all groups to increase access and benefit from our work. This belief is woven throughout our core values. Read more about Equity at Aspire.
- Bienestar (Well-Being): Learning, working, and playing require us to feel safe and well. Our spaces and interactions support physical, emotional, cultural, ethnic, academic, and social safety, allowing us to feel secure enough to bring our full selves each day.
- Culture of Belonging: We seek to be known and seen at Aspire, where we can be our authentic selves and be comfortable sharing all aspects of our identities. We respect and celebrate each other’s differences, and approach one another with empathy and understanding—no matter one’s background or cultural history. Each person is valued and has a place in this community.
- Community Partnership: We are all connected and collectively responsible for the well-being of every member of our extended community. When one of us is let down, we are all let down. When one of us succeeds, we all succeed. Only in partnership and by listening deeply to one another, can we create collective movement.
- Agency + Self-Determination: Each person has unique dreams. At Aspire, we set a foundation for our scholars to gain knowledge, skills, and power to access and make choices for their families and post-secondary lives.
- Joy: We strive to make Aspire and our communities a joyful place to learn, work, and be, together. Our work to shift outcomes is hard, yet we persist and have gratitude and pride in the journey. Joy makes it all possible!
Aspire’s core values are a part of its culture, but they do not define the culture. Culture is a shared system of values, beliefs and behaviors that collectively determine how things are done in an organization; it includes but is not limited to values.