Introducing Citizen Schools' New Development Coordinator, Wesley Thompson!

Tell us a little about your experience prior to joining Citizen Schools:

I graduated from Vassar College in 2013 with a degree in Neuroscience and Behavior. While at Vassar I worked in the Office of Alumni Affairs and Development as a Manager of the “Phonathon” program. After college, I began graduate work and interned with a youth-focused community theater, later joining their board of directors, and then a research and advocacy organization. Despite those experiences, External Engagement wasn’t part of my initial career plan, but I am so honored to have the opportunity to help garner the financial and community resources necessary to advance education equity.

What excites you most about becoming the new Development Coordinator for CSCA?

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Generally, I am excited to work for an organization with a decades-long record of success in closing the opportunity and achievement gaps experienced by students from low-income backgrounds and students of color. As it relates to development, I look forward to tapping into the Bay Area’s philanthropic spirit and building relationships with citizens who care about young people and their education.

What brought you to the Bay Area?

I first dipped my toe in the Bay Area in 2014 when I worked as a fund development intern for an Oakland-based nonprofit. While I learned a lot and gained invaluable experience, my biggest takeaway that summer was “I need to move back here ASAP!”. It took a few years to find the right opportunity, but I’m thrilled to be here now.


After looking through our Curriculum Library, which apprenticeship would your middle school self loved to have taken?

Although I am having a great time co-teaching a Science Explorers apprenticeship, if I had to pick one for middle school-aged Wesley to take it would be Pencil Code. In high school and college, I found Computer Science challenging because the lessons and assessments felt uninspired and irrelevant. I appreciate that Pencil Code allows students to approach coding from multiple perspectives -- artist, designer, engineer -- to facilitate  their understanding and mastery of programming. As we move deeper into the 21st century, it’s clear that coding and programming will be essential skills for students to master regardless of the profession they pursue.