Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Gates Foundation Names New K-12 Strategy Director

February 12, 2016

We are so pleased to welcome the new director of our K-12 strategy, Robert L. Hughes, President of New Visions for Public Schools. Bob is a national leader in improving public schools and equity for all students, and has a widely recognized track record of success in closing the student achievement gap for low-income students and students of color.

Bob is a respected problem-solver in education who understands the needs of students and teachers. He also is a superb analytical thinker who keeps data and analytics at the very core of his work to improve opportunity for all young people. With a relentless drive and refreshing humility, he has worked his entire career for social justice and to better outcomes for students of all backgrounds.

As president of New Visions for Public Schools since 2000, Bob guided the creation of 99 district and 6 charter public schools. Today New Visions provides direct support for 70 schools serving approximately 47,000 students - and those schools are posting impressive results toward greater equity and narrowing the achievement gap.

Bob currently serves on the Fund For Teachers Board of Directors and previously was a leader with Advocates for Children of New York, which represents community groups and parents in educational disputes, including involving homeless and disabled students in the South Bronx and East New York. 

Our foundation and our talented K-12 team believe passionately that a strong public education is the best bridge to opportunity and the key to closing the achievement gap and ensuring that every child reaches his or her full potential. We are excited that Bob will be joining us to lead our K-12 strategy beginning on June 1.

His commitment to equity has been evident since the beginning of his career, first as an attorney. Bob was co-counsel for the Campaign for Fiscal Equity in its landmark case challenging the constitutionality of the New York State's educational finance system. His leadership helped secure $5 billion in operating funds and $13.5 billion for capital construction for the New York City public school system.

It’s particularly important for students of color and students from low-income communities to have access to effective teachers who deliver the high quality instruction, challenging coursework, and learning goals that prepare students to succeed in school and career. 

As our co-chair Bill Gates said in his speech at the Education Learning Forum last fall, we believe “every student deserves high standards. Every student deserves an effective teacher. Every teacher deserves the tools and supports to be phenomenal. And all students deserve the opportunity to learn in a way that is tailored to their needs, skills, and interests. This is the combination of advances we are backing that we believe will transform America’s schools—and at the center of it all is an effective teacher.”

As a foundation, our biggest impact comes in how we work with our partners to identify solutions and use data and analytics to track progress and outcomes. Those solutions that prove to be most impactful can then be shared more broadly with communities across the country. Bob’s deep understanding of education systems, systems change and the role of data will help us scale these solutions to reach more students.

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