Curtis was born and raised in sunny Southern California. In 2008, he graduated summa cum laude from the University of California, Los Angeles, where he majored in Political Science with a concentration in International Relations.
Less than a week after graduation, with only his suitcase in tow, he moved to New York City to serve in Teach for America. For two years, Curtis taught U.S. History at Explorations Academy High School in the South Bronx. As a first-year teacher, he was recognized as the school’s “Social Studies Teacher of the Year.” He’s still waiting, however, for his award for living without access to good Mexican food, perhaps his single greatest accomplishment since leaving California. Looking to tackle education reform from the macro level, Curtis joined 50CAN in April 2011 as the assistant to President Marc Porter Magee. In this role, he was responsible for managing Marc’s schedule, providing operations assistance and leading a variety of research projects. Today, he works as a Policy & Research Manager making sure that 50CAN’s advocacy is driven by the best education research.
When Curtis isn’t working, he’s rooting for the Dodgers, decoding rap lyrics or watching old skateboard videos. He resides in Washington Heights with his high school sweetheart.
I aspire to be like Father Greg Boyle. Here's why:
I aspire to be like Father Greg Boyle, who is a tireless advocate for at-risk and gang-involved youth in Los Angeles. As the pastor of Dolores Mission, he worked with the Boyle Heights community to develop alternatives to gang life. Their efforts culminated in the establishment of Homeboy Industries, a nonprofit economic development enterprise that provides job training, work experience and opportunities for rival gang members to put aside their differences. His advocacy is often credited for making the community safer. Father Greg’s motto is “Nothing stops a bullet like a job.” In Los Angeles, it’s easy to drive by a community’s freeway exit and forget about the people who live there. Boyle’s work shows us that we’re truly our brother’s and sister’s keeper.
Why I love my job:
I love my job because I work with people who are unafraid of innovation. Everyone agrees that fixing our school system will be hard. But few people are questioning the conventional wisdom on how we actually make a difference. There is no “business as usual” at 50CAN. The staff is dedicated to closing the achievement gap, no matter how we get there.
My connection to public schools:
I am not the only educator in my family. Two of my aunts are teachers in Southern California public schools, and another aunt is the librarian at her local elementary school. After growing up in a family of educators, attending public school myself and leading my own classroom, I not only understand the teaching profession’s ups and downs, but also the struggles students face everyday.
What I'm bad at:
I’m terrible at remembering names and birthdays. Please don’t take it personally.
The image that represents why I work at 50CAN:
I chose this image because education is the starting line for the American dream. Too many children begin the race far behind. We owe each of them a fair shot at their dreams.