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DSU alum appointed to position with NEA Foundation

By February 20, 2024Alumni
DSU alum Jasmine Cleark is the new program officer for community schools for the NEA Foundation.

CLEVELAND, Miss. — The NEA Foundation recently announced the appointment of Delta State University graduate Jasmine Cleark as the new program officer for community schools for the NEA Foundation. The NEA Foundation is a DC-based national nonprofit and philanthropy working to promote and protect public education and is expanding staff presence in the Deep South. In her new role, Cleark will lead the Foundation’s Community Schools Initiative.

Cleark is a former public-school teacher and has firsthand experience addressing how opportunity gaps impact student and educator success. In her most recent position as an organizational specialist with the Mississippi Association of Educators, she led the Safe Water in Jackson Coalition, advocating for the rights of Jackson public school students to have access to safe and reliable water at school and at home.

“I am thrilled to contribute my skills and expertise to The NEA Foundation’s work in the Southern region,” said Cleark. “Community schools are not just aimed at improving academic outcomes, but they have been proven to enhance students’ overall experiences both inside and outside the classroom. Ultimately, this student-centered initiative will positively impact the trajectory of their futures and our global society.”

Sara Sneed, president and CEO of the NEA Foundation said, “Across the country, the community schools strategy has strengthened public schools and significantly improved students’ educational experiences and outcomes. The NEA Foundation has been incredibly proud to support the development of these public schools across Arkansas, Louisiana, and Mississippi, and I am very excited to have Jasmine join the Foundation as we further this critical endeavor.”

The expansion of the Foundation to include the program officer for community schools comes at a time of growth, both for The NEA Foundation at large and its Community Schools Initiative, now entering its fourth year. The Foundation’s Initiative is part of a larger national effort to address the needs of individual children, families, and communities by providing new and increased resources to support students’ wellbeing and school success. Often going well beyond meeting academic needs, community schools address students’ physical and mental health, increase their enrichment opportunities, and strengthen family and community engagement in public schools. The NEA Foundation’s Community Schools Initiative is unique in that it focuses on the Deep South, a region with the highest levels of poverty in the U.S., while persistently receiving the lowest levels of philanthropic investment.

Cleark said, “My degree programs at Delta State provided me with a strong foundation of knowledge and skills to build upon for my career aspirations. Through undergraduate coursework, projects, internships in the Student Success Center, and Greek life as a member of the Mu Gamma Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Incorporated, I gained experience and expertise in a number of areas. I had opportunities to network with professionals, participate in relevant extracurricular activities, and develop critical thinking and problem-solving abilities. The Community Development Master’s degree I pursued thrust me to the center of research and analysis of issues concerning my community and opened my eyes to the lack of resources available to children and families of the rural South. As I join The NEA Foundation as a program officer for community schools, I take with me the plethora of knowledge I’ve gained from my previous work experiences and the determination to excel no matter the circumstances. That foundation was laid on Delta State’s campus.”

For more information about graduate programs at Delta State University, visit