Jonah Edelman is co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of Stand for Children. Stand for Children’s eleven state affiliates (AZ, CO, IL, IN, LA, MA, OK, OR, TN, TX, and WA) help children at the bottom of the economic ladder to rise up, most fundamentally by improving early literacy and increasing high school success through effective dropout prevention strategies, expanded career technical education, and improved college preparation. Where significant progress is achievable, Stand affiliates also work to increase funding equity and adequacy; improve school quality in communities with a concentration of chronically low performing schools; improve teaching quality; and increase access to quality early childhood education.
Stand for Children achieves scaled impact in these areas through a variety of strategies, including: championing evidence-based policies and targeted investments; empowering families to effectively support and advocate for their children’s education; ensuring the policies and investments we champion actually reach the classroom and help children, and are sustained over time; electing candidates to school boards, state legislature, and other key offices who will champion or support our priority solutions.
Beyond the advocacy efforts described above, in response to the rising tide of intolerance in schools, Stand for Children created the Middle School Kindness Challenge (www.middleschoolkindnesschallenge.org) to help make kindness commonplace and meanness rare in middle schools across the nation and encourage more empathetic education responses to unproductive student behavior in order to reduce unnecessary suspensions. Also, given the threat to DACA recipients, Stand for Children took leadership in creating www.protectdreamers.org and enlisted thousands of educators to sign a statement and then advocate for a legislative solution.
Jonah’s personal stand for children began during college, when he taught a six year-old bilingual child to read. He went on to found a mentorship program for middle school students, and then served as an administrator of an enrichment program for children living in public housing.
Jonah is blessed to be continuing a long family line of service to the community. His grandparents, Arthur Jerome Wright and Maggie Leola Bowen Wright, led a vibrant congregational community, started their town's first home for the aged, and took in more than a dozen foster children. Jonah’s parents, Marian Wright Edelman and Peter Edelman, have stood up for civil rights, equal opportunity, and children's well-being their whole careers. Jonah was born and raised in Washington, D.C., graduated from Yale University in 1992, and attended Oxford University on a Rhodes Scholarship, where in three years (1992-1995) he earned master's and doctor of philosophy degrees in politics. In 1996, Jonah organized Stand for Children's historic founding rally in Washington, D.C., which was attended by more than 300,000 people.
Jonah lives in Portland, Oregon with his wife, Charese, and their twin sons, Elijah and Levi, who attend their neighborhood public school.