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Melissa Clarke

Melissa Clarke

New York Policy Director

As policy director for New York, Melissa leads the strategy and delivery of uAspire’s New York state and city-based policy agenda and systems change projects. Before joining uAspire, Melissa was a policy associate for The Children's Defense Fund-NY (CDFNY), where she focused on a variety of education policy issues that impacted New York City and New York State's most vulnerable population. Specifically, she focused on discipline, mental health, culturally-responsive curriculum, and restorative justice. Prior to this role Melissa worked at the New York City Charter School Center where she worked towards building community and political support in order for charter schools to flourish in the communities that needed access to high quality schools. Melissa received her BA in Political Science from John Jay College of Criminal Justice (CUNY) and her Masters of Science in Social Work from Columbia University where she focused her work on public policy and contemporary social issues.

Why uAspire?

I can recall the barriers and hurdles I faced while accessing higher education. I can recall not being able to attend my dream school because of the crippling cost. I aspire to change this narrative for our young people in the State of New York; to make higher education financially accessible to all students regardless of their socioeconomic position in life.