Dear Road Map Project community,

On March 30, I joined the Community Center of Education Results (CCER) as the executive director. As I engaged with staff at a virtual lunch, we reflected on our new reality, on the crushing impacts COVID-19 has had and will continue to have on the communities we serve and are part of, and on our vision for the future. As I transition into a new role, leading the backbone organization for the Road Map Project, we are all transitioning to a different way of living, working, and gathering.

I first learned about the Road Map Project one afternoon a decade ago as I was sitting at my desk in the Highline Schools District office in Burien. In those days, I spent a lot of time in community, building relationships, dreaming of all the incredible progress we could make in dismantling the racist outcomes of our education system—if only we had the resources to do so. Back then, we were learning about the Harlem Children’s Zone and how the Obama administration was using that model to disperse Race to the Top funding that aimed to drastically shift narratives around what was possible in Promise Neighborhoods across the nation. It was an exciting time in community; it was a confusing time in what it meant to cede power to our communities and source sustainable solutions from those who had to live with the consequences of our dreams.

I joined CCER because I am committed to improving education outcomes for students furthest from opportunity. The Road Map Project’s values of confronting racism in education, building more equitable systems, increasing postsecondary attainment for Black and Brown students and others far from educational justice are personal goals and passions for me. Through my personal experiences and time working in education, I have found my greatest strength is my ability to connect with diverse stakeholders to envision a more just future. For me, a just future lies in confronting and systematically addressing opportunity gaps through an anti-racist lens, from cradle to college.

I am committed to honing my ability to call the question and lead from the front on seemingly intractable racialized outcomes prevalent in the U.S. education system. While I believe there is nothing better than sitting in circle with one another to do this work, COVID-19 has pushed me to embrace new ways. One of those new ways has been finally making the time to read. Currently, I’m really digging adrienne maree brown’s Emergent Strategy and exploring their deeply rooted belief that the paradigm shift we seek for Black, Indigenous, and Brown students must be centered in joy if not pleasure—the joy that emerges when we are in right relationship with our whole community. In many recent Zoom meetings, I have found myself asking, “Who is the community you are referring to?” This is just the start of the type of community relationships I look forward to growing at CCER.

The pandemic has laid bare the inequities many of us have long lived through in our region, the country, and the whole history of the world. Racial injustice further exacerbates the impacts we are seeing with this ever-expanding crisis, where Black and Brown communities, low-income communities, and at-risk individuals are suffering disproportionately. We are in the midst of a crisis that has unveiled (for all who want to see) what’s not working, what’s not been just since the beginning. When we rebuild, we cannot go back to the way things were. We must resist the comfort of what was, and forge new paths to what can be—a society where young people can reach their full potential and be supported wholeheartedly, where community leadership paves the path towards a more equitable future, where race is a joy-filled experience instead of another traumatic storyline.

I look forward to getting to know you and welcome your voices and partnership as we reimagine the next few months and the many years ahead, and advocate for an anti-racist system that uplifts our young people and centers their joy and aspirations.

In solidarity,



Bernadette Merikle
Executive Director, Community Center for Education Results
identifiers: Black/They/She

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