Creating a society where every Black child has the power to lead begins with schools where this is true.
Montessori pedagogy rooted in liberation puts the Black child at the center of their own educational journey.
But today, there are too few Black Montessorians – less than 10% nationally
The Black Wildflowers Fund exists to enable more Black educators to design and launch liberatory, identity-affirming Montessori microschools where every Black child and adult is centered and belongs.
Our model sets Black educators up as leaders of their own organizations – which comes with spiritual, community and economic benefits.
THE BLACK WILDFLOWERS FUND
Startup capital to enable Teacher Leaders to plant and nurture the seed of their Wildflower School.
Connections to equity-rooted, business incubator programs and tools for extraordinary Black educational entrepreneurs as they design and create Wildflower schools in partnership with their community.
Recruit and provide scholarships for Black educators to go through Montessori training.
Maia Blankenship, Co-CEO
Maia Blankenship is an accomplished education entrepreneur and advocate for equity leading Wildflower’s growth in the DC Metro Area. She galvanized a board and Founding Leadership to incubate the DC Wildflower Public Charter School which will grow to serve 225 students through intentionally small liberatory Montessori microschools over the next four years. She was the founding managing director for Education Pioneers in 2007, an organization that places talented people from other fields into education management roles. While serving as the regional executive director for The Achievement Network (ANet), an organization that provides high-quality aligned interim assessments and builds data-driven cultures in schools, she expanded its reach to over 200 schools in D.C. and Maryland. She then became Vice President of Strategic Growth & Partnerships at ANet, cultivating national and regional relationships that improved student performance. Maia is also an advisor and connector to organizations actively working to dismantle systemic racism and oppression, including serving as Interim Board Chair of The Equity Lab. In 2020, she was recognized in the inaugural cohort of Black Voices for Black Justice Fund. She is a Ward 5 D.C. resident and the proud mother of an independent and adventurous five year old who inspires her daily.
Erika McDowell, Co-CEO
Dr. Erika L. McDowell is a former NJ governor’s award recipient and honors graduate of Howard University and New York University. Erika currently leads Wildflower School’s growth and partnerships in New Jersey and is an Equity Steward for the organization. She earned her EdD from Drexel University in Educational Leadership and Management, in May 2020. Dr. McDowell has received the Association for Positive Behavior Support’s 2020 E.G. “Ted” Carr Early Career Practitioner Award and has been elected to the APBS Board of Directors for the 2021-2024 term, serving in the inaugural Racial and Ethnic Diversity Seat. She has also served as an Executive Director of Professional Development and Director of PBIS/Youth Court for The School District of Philadelphia. Other positions previously held include assistant principal and teacher. Her in-depth experience includes restorative practices, equity, positive behavioral supports, conflict resolution, classroom management, coaching, leadership development, and behavioral data support. Dr. McDowell is committed to nurturing the minds and gifts of school leaders, teachers, and youth nationwide.