Eshé Collins Advocates for Equity in Education 

Eshé Collins is the Senior Director of Programs at Jumpstart, a national early education organization dedicated to providing high-quality education access for all children. She also serves as Chair of the Atlanta Board of Education.

From a young age, Eshé noticed the economic and educational disparities in her hometown.

“You often hear about a tale of two cities,” she says. “Atlanta in a lot of ways represents that.”

Eshé grew up in a neighborhood that didn’t have the resources to provide high-quality educational opportunities. This meant Eshé’s mother was forced to make the tough decision to send Eshé and her siblings to live with their grandmother so they could attend a stronger school system.

“I would come home on the weekends and be with my friends that I grew up with. I knew that the conversations that I was having at my school were vastly different from the conversation that I was having with them,” Eshé shares.

This experience sparked Eshé’s desire to work for equitable change in Atlanta. After graduating high school, she went to Spelman College and then began working as a Teach for America educator in Atlanta Public Schools.

Early in her career, Eshé again saw these disparities first-hand. Many of the families in the housing community where she taught lacked basic healthcare, work, and educational opportunities.

“My role as an educator at that point transformed into really stepping out of the school and going into the community,” she explains. “If I can help you, as an adult or as a family, then I know your child’s experience is going to be better.”

Equity is Key

After a few years with Teach for America, Eshé decided to pursue advocacy work. She went to law school and also worked for the Children’s Defense Fund. When she graduated and returned to Atlanta, she became a homeowner and was asked to run for the Board of Education.

“I always knew I was going to sit on the school board, I just didn’t know when,” Eshé shares.

On the Board of Education, Eshé works hard to put equity at the forefront of every conversation and decision.

“Equity is key, not only in our school system, but in regards to training our workforce and pushing for affordable housing opportunities,” she explains.

Atlanta has one of the biggest wealth gaps in the country and the disparities that exist in the city only widened during the pandemic.

“I owe it to my community and I also owe it to my family legacy to put my all in this work, because their lives are dependent on me, whether they know me or not, to make decisions that are going to be best for them,” she shares.

Fighting for equity has not always been easy, but Eshé says it’s always worth it.

“I’ve been really excited to be a part of leading that effort in implementing that and seeing the change in the communities where I serve, and also the children that are in our classrooms every day,” she adds.

Stay the Course

Some people have doubted Eshé along her journey, but she never let that stop her. 

“Believe in your vision. It’s not for everyone else to believe in,” she advises.

Eshé was told she was too young and too educated to run for the Board, but she trusted her gut and has served on the board for 10 years now. 

“Stay the course when you have challenges and you have doubters,” she shares.

Instead of listening to the doubters, Eshé followed her own calling to advocacy work and has been able to fight for a more equitable education system in her community. 

“I get up every day knowing that we’re changing lives,” she explains. “I take it extremely seriously, because I would want someone to do that for me.”