Press Release

Innovation For Equity Announces Winners for 2020 IFE Awards

Annual IFE Awards honor leaders who are leveraging innovation to improve outcomes for Black learners of all ages

BOSTON – Aug. 5, 2020Innovation For Equity, Inc. (IFE), a nonprofit organization committed to promoting innovative ways to improve life outcomes for Black learners of all ages, today announced the winners of its 2020 IFE Awards. Presented annually, the IFE Awards honor leaders who are working to disrupt educational inequities and create greater opportunities for Black learners – cradle through career.

The IFE awards celebrate diverse innovators who are leading change and pushing the boundaries on how to improve not only education outcomes, but life outcomes for people from underserved communities. The IFE Awards represents the culmination of this year’s IFE free Summer Virtual Events series.

Below are the 2020 IFE award winners:

  • Rising Star Award — Rediet Abebe, Junior Fellow at the Harvard Society of Fellows and co-founder of Black in AI. Rediet is a computer science researcher working in the fields of algorithms and artificial intelligence, with a focus on equity and social justice.
  • Advancing Equity Award — Carmita Semaan, Founder and President of The Surge Institute. Surge is transforming education by training, supporting, connecting, and elevating emerging education leaders of color.
  • Trailblazer Award — Jim Shelton, Chief Impact and Investment Officer at Blue Meridian Partners. An accomplished education innovator and former Deputy Secretary of Education, Jim now helps lead a pioneering philanthropic model for finding and funding scalable solutions to the problems that trap young people and families in poverty in the U.S.

“COVID-19 has exposed many of the deeply rooted inequities across our educational system and broader society,” said Matthew Mugo Fields, EVP and General Manager, Supplemental and Intervention Solutions at HMH and co-founder of IFE. “As we close the IFE Summer Virtual Events series, we look forward to celebrating outstanding leaders who are paving the way and affecting systemic change at a time when the need is so fiercely urgent.”

Past IFE Award winners include Yscaira Jimenez, CEO of LaborX, Reverend Dr. Jawanza Colvin, Pastor of Olivet Institutional Baptist Church and Dr. Lamont Repollet, Former New Jersey State Commissioner of Education.

As part of its mission, IFE brings together cross-sector leaders to create connections and collaborations focused on generating measurable outcomes for learners who need the most support, with an initial focus on Black learners. The nonprofit is sponsored by a number of key partners, including learning company Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, The Vistria Group, New Leaders and more.

This year’s IFE Awards Ceremony and Reception will be a highly interactive virtual event on Thursday, August 6 at 4:00pm ET. Hosted on Shindig, an interactive event space, the IFE Awards will offer attendees a chance to learn and listen to some good music from DJ Tron as these changemakers are honored.

To sign-up for the event and the view recordings of the first two Summer Virtual Events, visit the registration page here.

About Innovation For Equity

Founded nearly two years ago by a diverse, accomplished group of education, technology, policy and business leaders, Innovation For Equity, Inc. (IFE) is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting innovative ways to improve life outcomes for Black learners of all ages. IFE's mission is to commit to equity, with a focus on scaling innovative and effective solutions and increasing Black leadership across the education ecosystem.



Katie Marshall

Communications Manager

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt