2018 Annual Summit

Thursday-Friday, March 1-2, 2018 in Washington, D.C.

You are cordially invited to the CLASS Coalition’s Annual Closing the Excellence Gap Summit: Blueprint for a Strong Pipeline convening for high school leaders.

Our goal is to continue to strengthen collaboration around increasing access and success for low-income students at the nation’s most selective high schools.

This event is made possible because of the generous support from the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation.

Here are some key details for the Annual Summit:

  • The Summit begins at 8 a.m. Thursday, March 1 and goes until 3:30 p.m. Friday, March 2

  • Registration rates are as follows:

    • Members: $199 before Feb. 1 // $250 after Feb. 1

    • Non-members: $250 before Feb. 1 // $300 after Feb. 1

  • To register, register online.

  • Rooms are available from the day the conference on Feb 28th to the day after the conference March 3rd checkout. You can book a hotel using our block rate at the Marriott Marquis.

We are excited about our session topics, including:

  • Creating the Pipeline

  • Innovation in High Schools

  • Corporate Outreach Models

  • What is the Research Telling Us?

  • Closing the Achievement Gap: Accessing Scholarships

  • Trends in Technology

  • Value Added for CLASS Coalition Schools

  • Partners Networking Reception

  • More topics will be announced soon!

We are pleased to announce the following lineup of speakers.

Akiba Covitz is Head of Business Development for the Minerva Project, which runs the Minerva Schools. He is the former Associate Dean and faculty member at Harvard Law School and founding vice president of the online learning company edX, which was created by Harvard and MIT and now includes more than 10 million learners and hundreds of institutions around the world.

Vince Bertram, President and CEO of Project Lead The Way. Project Lead The Way is a nonprofit that provides a transformative learning experience for K-12 students and teachers across the U.S.




Andrew Nichols, Director of Higher Education Research and Data Analytics at The Education Trust. Nichols helps develop a research agenda that identifies patterns and trends in college access, affordability, and success, with a focus on improving outcomes for underserved populations.


Dean David Taylor joined the Georgetown University School of Medicine family in 1990 as the Associate Dean for Student Learning, responsible for initiatives that promote the retention and advancement of medical students.



Dr. Joshua Starr, Chief Executive Officer of PDK International. Dr. Starr will explain the major findings of the 50th annual PDK Poll of the Public’s Attitudes Toward the Public Schools.



Anthony S. Bartolomeo, PE, serves as President and Chief Executive Officer of Pennoni. Tony has more than 30 years of experience in environmental engineering, coupled with broad experience in the relationship development among the federal, state and local government levels, all of which have a stake in the success of major civil infrastructure projects.



Dr. Asante Dickson is the current chairman of the Radiology Department at Washington Adventist Hospital. In addition, he is the co-founder of Ascension Medical Educators, empowering students for medical school admission from high school through college.


Pranam Lipinski is the CEO Door of Clubs, the largest student club sponsor for colleges in the world, and provides financial support and works with Fortune 500 employers to hire diverse, STEM, and business talent more efficiently.


Ryall Carroll is the CEO and Co-Founder of Doing4Others, empowering student volunteers through a free social impact hub. Previously, he was the Chairmen of the Marketing Department of St. John’s University.



Jae Gardner is the CEO and Founder of Ivy Key, a New York City-based education company that offers top quality tutoring, test prep, and admissions consulting to over 150 schools. Jae is also currently pioneering specialized testing prep solutions utilizing artificial intelligence.


Amy Cislak is the Principal of nationally ranked exam high school University High School in Tucson, Arizona. TUSD has been under a 40-year desegregation lawsuit overseen by the United States Department of Justice. Since Ms. Cislak’s tenure at UHS, University High School has grown from 800 to almost 1200 students, doubled Latino and African American enrollment, tripled the free/reduced lunch population and has maintained a perfect 100% graduation rate with last year’s senior class enjoying over $34 million in scholarship awards.

As Program Manager of Outreach and Partnerships at the Cooke Foundation, Alan Royal oversees outreach initiatives and partnerships as well as the selection of recipients for the Young Scholars Program, College Scholarship, and Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship. Prior to joining the foundation, Mr. Royal was a coordinator for a college access program supported by Texas Christian University’s Office for Community Engagement and a seventh grade Language Arts teacher.


Clayton Banks is the Co-Founder of Silicon Harlem. The mission of Silicon Harlem is to transform Harlem and other urban markets into Innovation and Technology Hubs. Under his leadership, Silicon Harlem has been focused on building smart city corridors in upper Manhattan and collaborating with stakeholders to provide affordable broadband to all citizens.


David Helene is the founder and CEO of Edquity, a provider of college financial planning and success platforms for high-school and college students. Under his leadership, Edquity has worked with leading high schools, districts, and non-profit college access organizations, including DC Public Schools and IDEA Public Schools, and has been accepted to programs that include the Wells Fargo Startup Accelerator.


Katherine McClintic is a former history teacher, who is now a software engineer at Groupon, and Director of Education for Women Who Code in Washington DC, an organization that has a two-pronged goal of both getting women into tech and supporting them there. Her combined efforts at work and with Women Who Code DC recently garnered her a DC FemTech Award.

Kaari Casey is the Program Manager for the Junior Academy at The New York Academy of Sciences. Her background is in education programming and environmental science. Aside from her work with the Academy, she is currently pursuing a Masters in Biology from Miami University.