Transcend’s Yellow Hats League continues to grow with innovators who inform, design, and spread innovative learning environments. This month, we are pleased to spotlight Ruben and Vanessa.

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Ruben Morris is leading a new private school workforce development program in Birmingham, AL, called Build Up—the nation’s first and only workforce development model that provides low-income youth career-ready skills through paid apprenticeships with industry-aligned secondary and early-postsecondary academic coursework, leading them to become educated, credentialed, and empowered civic leaders, workers, homeowners and landlords. A native of Birmingham, Ruben is a 2004 Houston TFA corps member who also has a background in real estate development and construction. Ruben also spent time on staff with TFA Atlanta before moving to Denver in 2010 to pursue a Master’s in Social Change at Iliff School of Theology. He also taught two years with KIPP Colorado then moved into school leadership with Denver Public Schools and Westminster Public Schools as both a middle school and high school administrator. About Yellow Hats, Ruben writes, “I am most excited about being in the yellow hats league because I get an opportunity to connect with a group of the most innovative thinkers in education today.”


Vanessa Wilkins founded Future School Lab in 2018 to accelerate innovation in education. She advises foundations, corporations, and nonprofits globally looking to implement new initiatives or scale effective programs. She also leads learning tours and is passionate about sharing what works. Previously, Vanessa served as North America Community Impact Director at Nike, leading a statewide education initiative in Oregon, managing key national and local partnerships, and partnering Nike executives with school leaders to innovate in education. Her work re(launching) and implementing the Nike School Innovation Fund was recently documented in a Harvard case used to teach shared value and scaling impact. Vanessa is passionate about the value of cross-sector partnerships and hopes to inspire more community and business leaders to support innovation in schools. About the League, Vanessa writes, “I love learning from Transcenders everywhere working to build the future of school. YHL is like a trusted group of advisors at your fingertips 24/7.”

Read more about the Yellow Hats League here.