Robert Simmons joins Urban Teachers as Executive Director of the Black Educators Initiative

(BALTIMORE, MD) — Urban Teachers announced today that esteemed educator and author Robert Simmons III, Ed.D. will lead the Black Educators Initiative (BEI), an ambitious $25 million effort to place nearly 1,000 new Black educators in classrooms by 2023. 

Simmons, who started his education career as a classroom teacher, is joining one of the nation’s leading teacher preparation programs as executive director of BEI. He comes to Urban Teachers after serving as Chief Executive Officer of the See Forever Foundation and the Maya Angelou Schools in Washington, D.C. 

“This work is deeply personal. My dream from the age of 16 was to become a teacher. There was nothing else I wanted to do. Influenced by my mothers’ journey from Detroit to Spelman College, it’s her story of the amazing Black educators she experienced that inspires me. I am excited to lead the Black Educators Initiative; but I am even more excited to join Urban Teachers because of their commitment to being unapologetic about enacting anti-racism as a part of the ethos of the organization,” Simmons said.

Simmons brings more than 20 years of experience empowering urban youth, their families and their communities, beginning as an elementary and middle school science teacher in Detroit where he was nominated for Walt Disney national teacher of the year award twice.

As the founding director of the Center for Innovation in Urban Education and the Institute for Urban Catholic Education at Loyola University of Maryland, Simmons was as an associate professor of urban education and science education, while also serving as a research associate at the Baltimore Education Research Consortium at Johns Hopkins University. Having authored over 50 publications, including the book Talking about Race, Simmons completed fellowships with the Woodrow Wilson Fellowship Foundation and the Fulbright Memorial Fund. Prior to his current role, Simmons served as the Vice President of Strategy and Innovation at the Campaign for Black Male Achievement and as the Chief of Innovation & Research with the District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS); while at DCPS Simmons was the chief architect of the Empowering Males of Color initiative.

“Urban Teachers could not have found a better candidate to lead BEI as we push to prepare and place nearly 1,000 black teachers in our partner schools. Our goal remains to build the best-prepared teachers who are ready to have a positive impact on students’ lives from their first day in the classroom.” said Jacqueline Greer, Urban Teachers Chief Program Officer.

Urban Teachers, a national teacher recruitment, preparation, development, and retention program serving Baltimore, Washington, DC, and Dallas, launched the Black Educators Initiative in November. 

“Urban Teachers is certainly enriched with Dr. Robert Simmons’ decades of experience. His appointment ensures a brighter future not only for us but also hopefully for Black men in the teaching profession through BEI,” said Peter Shulman, Urban Teachers Chief Executive Officer.

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About Urban Teachers

At Urban Teachers, we believe great teachers are the key to combating racial and socioeconomic inequality.  Founded in 2009, our mission is to improve educational and life outcomes of children in urban schools by preparing culturally competent, effective career teachers who accelerate student achievement and disrupt systems of racial and socioeconomic inequity. Since Urban Teachers participants first entered Baltimore and Washington, DC classrooms in 2010, more than 1,500 Urban Teachers participants have served over 150,000 children across the three Urban Teachers regions. Urban Teachers is a proud member of the AmeriCorps national service network and operates in collaboration with The Johns Hopkins University School of Education. Applications for Urban Teachers’ school year 2020 cohort are being accepted now. Information about how current applicants can apply for financial support through the Black Educators Initiative will be available in February  2020. Learn more at

About Ballmer Group

Ballmer Group works to improve economic mobility in the United States for children and families who are disproportionately likely to remain in poverty. We believe that building pathways to opportunity requires broad, systemic change, and we work to understand and mitigate the systemic and inequitable impact of race on economic mobility. We invest in many stages of a child’s life by supporting strong community partnerships among public, private, and nonprofit organizations that use data to more effectively serve families. Ballmer Group was co-founded by philanthropist and civic activist Connie Ballmer and her husband Steve Ballmer, former CEO of Microsoft, founder of USAFacts, and chairman of the Los Angeles Clippers.