From Our Schools to All Schools: A Conversation with David Adams, Urban Assembly CEO

Changing the Odds Thought Leader Interviews

Hosted by Karen Pittman

After six years serving as Urban Assembly’s (UA) Senior Director of strategy and leader of the organizations social emotional learning efforts, David Adams was named the CEO of UA in March of this year. Urban Assembly is an incredibly successful, New York City based non-profit organization working to advance students’ economic and social mobility by taking shared responsibility for student success in 23 small, open-enrollment public middle-schools and high schools.

UA schools’ focus on college & career readiness comes to life through community-partnerships that are grounded in each school’s unique theme and the network’s school support team model ensures attention to a balance of students’ academic and social-emotional development. Currently, students in UA schools outperform other students in New York, with graduation rates 7 percentage points higher than their citywide peers and 23 percentage points higher than their peers across the state.

David’s appointment as CEO reflects the organization’s commitment to develop innovative, scalable approaches to fully integrate SEL into curriculum and classroom practices and move UA’s lessons out to other communities. As David leads UAs expansion of its model and supports across the country, he holds a firm vision that the organization must shift from talking about our schools to all schools and from our students to all students.

David and Karen’s discussion centered on their shared desire that SEL should not only be integrated with instruction, but also deeply and authentically connected to commitments to equity and excellence as they dig into:

  • UA’s unique model and plans for expansion
  • UA’s leadership in a city-wide effort to implement the recommendations of the National Commission on Social Emotional and Academic Development including their interim report – City at Hope – SEL in New York City