Press Release

Today, Amber Arellano, Executive Director for The Education Trust-Midwest, was named a 2022 Crain’s Detroit Business Notable Women in Nonprofits awardee for her work leading efforts to build a movement for educational equity in Michigan, both internally and externally.

This Crain’s Detroit Business award celebrates leaders who have made a significant impact at Michigan nonprofits, ranging from large philanthropic organizations to community-based organizations. The recognition comes as The Education Trust-Midwest this year celebrates a decade as a trusted, data-driven, non-partisan organization working on behalf of all Michigan students, but especially the most underserved.

Arellano was nominated by Alice Thompson, Chair of the Education Committee, Detroit Branch NAACP, and Chief Executive Officer, BFDI Educational Services, Inc.

Thompson is also a member of the Michigan Partnership for Equity and Opportunity (MPEO), a statewide coalition focused on advancing opportunity and improving learning outcomes for Michigan’s most underserved students, including students of color, students living in poverty, English Learners, students with disabilities, and rural students. Alongside key partners in 2020, Arellano founded the coalition, which has already produced important and notable wins.

“Amber is very deserving of this honor for her tireless efforts to partner with a diverse table of advocates and lead a talented team dedicated to building an equity movement on behalf of all Michigan children,” Thompson said. “Her leadership, research, and policy expertise undoubtedly have made Michigan’s education system more equitable for our state’s most underserved students, including Black and Latino students, children from low-income backgrounds, English learners, and students with disabilities. I commend her for bringing together a fiercely dedicated statewide group of civil rights, civic and business leaders who are committed to strong advocacy. Together, we will work to ensure Michigan truly is a state that provides opportunity for all students to achieve at high levels.”

This summer, the MPEO coalition celebrated a historic victory when state leaders approved a record amount of funding for Michigan’s public schools while prioritizing spending for underserved students. While much more needs to be done, this budget represents the most equitable budget the state has passed in several years.

Additionally, the MPEO coalition had many policy wins during the pandemic. For example, Michigan became the first state in the U.S. — and a national model — for an innovative pandemic food security initiative for which Ed Trust-Midwest and advocates sought early on. The coalition also successfully advocated for Michigan’s early pandemic federal stimulus dollars be distributed in an equitable way; and that state policymakers shield vulnerable students from harsh budget cuts.

“I have had the chance to work with Amber Arellano on education matters for several years. As the leader of The Education Trust-Midwest, she has been virtually the only provider of bias-free analysis on how Michigan is doing relative to others in the important business of educating our kids, which is not very well by most measures,” said Ken Whipple, Chair, Michigan Achieves Leadership Council and retired chairman and CEO of Consumers Energy.

“Improvements in our education just wouldn’t be possible without the information her organization provides,” Whipple said. “Way more than that, building on her journalistic background, she has been a leader in putting together groups to tackle education progress. We have known in Michigan for a long time that we need to do a lot more on education, but specific progress has been glacially slow. Amber has been an outstanding leader in putting together groups with a focus on action, such as the Michigan Partnership for Equity and Opportunity, which is focused on solving the inequitable funding in Michigan, particularly for underserved students.”

A nationally award-winning veteran Detroit journalist, Arellano has led many successful public campaigns to make Michigan a leading state for public education over the last decade. Under her leadership, The Education Trust-Midwest also has built and co-led many cross-sector coalitions and partnerships to advance an educational excellence and equity movement for Michigan students. With leading business, civic and K-12 education stakeholders, for example, Ed Trust-Midwest co-led a successful statewide college- and career-ready coalition of more than 146 organizations, leading to important policy wins.

The nominating submission also noted that Arellano founded the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning in West Michigan in partnership with the Steelcase Foundation. The Center has been credited with supporting high-poverty schools’ work to become some of the state’s top growth schools among Michigan’s high-poverty schools. Arellano also was one of the first founding members of Launch Michigan, a statewide effort to significantly bolster investment in the P-12 education system over the next decade.

All of these collective efforts are in addition to her role leading The Education Trust-Midwest, the Midwest presence of the nationally respected think-tank, The Education Trust based in Washington D.C. As the executive director of a policy, research, advocacy, and technical assistance organization, Arellano has engaged and partnered with multiple constituencies, including leaders in the business, education, civil rights, and philanthropic communities across the state to create, advocate for, and influence research-based policy change.

Arellano is a board member of the Detroit Regional Chamber Foundation and a member of MANA of Metro Detroit, a national Latina organization focused on community service. A proud graduate of Michigan State University’s School of Journalism and School of Education, she earned her Master of Public Policy at the University of Michigan Ford School of Public Policy where she has been involved in the Alumni Relations Board. She has mentored and taught high school students in metro Detroit and college students at Michigan State University. She is a former Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar to Mexico on behalf of the Detroit-Windsor Rotary Club.

For more information about The Ed Trust-Midwest’s “Power of 10 campaign” and how to join in its momentous work, go here.