David is the co-founder of the Maya Angelou Public Charter Schools, a network of alternative schools in the District of Columbia, and a Senior Fellow at American Progress. He is also the director of the Center for Educational Excellence in Alternative Settings, located at the University of Maryland, College Park. He is one of a handful of practitioners who work at the intersection of education and juvenile justice reform.
A graduate of the University of Virginia and Stanford Law School, David was awarded both an Echoing Green and an Ashoka Fellowship to support his work as a social entrepreneur developing programs for at-risk and court-involved youth. He is credited with taking one of the country’s worst schools for incarcerated youth and transforming it into a national model.
David served as the founding principal of the Maya Angelou Academy—the school located inside the District of Columbia’s long-term, secure juvenile facility—from 2007 to 2011. He designed the key elements of the school model, including short, thematic units aligned with state standards, incentive programming based on the Positive Behavioral Intervention and Supports framework, a technology-enhanced instruction and learning platform, and a set of technology tools designed to enhance communication between school and correctional staff.
The Maya Angelou Academy’s success has been widely recognized. Students at Maya Angelou improve their reading and math scores at an annualized rate of nearly 1.5 grade levels. Over 50 percent of the students who earn a GED or high school diploma while at the academy go on to postsecondary school—a rate nearly unheard of in youth correctional settings. Retention rates (the percentage of students remaining in school or holding jobs after release to the community) have doubled since the Maya Angelou Academy began serving D.C.’s incarcerated youth.