Special to the Times
Building on her campaign commitment to elevate the well-being of Boston’s young people as a true community mission, Mayor Michelle Wu announced Rebecca Grainger as her Senior Advisor for Youth and Schools. In this role, Grainger will work in close partnership with the Mayor, Boston Public Schools, and senior City officials to advance the Mayor’s commitment to making Boston the most family-friendly city in the country. Grainger will also be responsible for standing up the Boston Children’s Cabinet, charged with coordinating City services that impact children and their families and creating a civic ecosystem that allows all children to thrive inside and outside of school. Grainger brings more than 20 years of experience working in education, including time with Somerville Public Schools. She officially started with the City of Boston at the end of August.
“Setting up our kids and teens for success is crucial to the future of Boston, and City Hall needs to play an important role in connecting our families to the services they deserve,” said Mayor Michelle Wu. “I’m thrilled that Rebecca joins our team with a deep knowledge of breaking systemic barriers in our education system. Together with our Superintendent and Office of Early Childhood, we’ll make sure children of all ages have opportunities for growth in and out of school.”
Grainger served her first decade in education as a high school science teacher and department chair at Sierra High School in Colorado Springs, Colorado. She is recognized as a Distinguished Educator and Hall of Fame Distinguished Alumna. Her work has centered on dismantling racial inequities in our education systems and youth programming.
Most recently, Grainger led the instructional design for Black Futures Lab’s Black Policy Institute, a fellowship to prepare selected Fellows to craft policy that advances Black political power, change the way power operates, and improve the lives of Black people.
“I’m honored to join Mayor Wu and the team at City Hall in supporting youth and families throughout the city of Boston,” said Rebecca Grainger, Senior Advisor for Youth and Schools. “I look forward to listening deeply to understand history and to advocate thoughtfully in tackling barriers that have limited access to resources and opportunity. I’m excited to collaborate with the many talented minds and actors working across schools, city departments, sectors, and communities to strengthen existing and cultivate new programs, partnerships, and avenues to lend to the bright futures of the youth of Boston.”
As Senior Advisor, Grainger will aim to build trust with young people, families, and communities from diverse backgrounds, including those who have not historically been well-served by government programs to understand needs and drive key priorities. Grainger will shape and drive a youth policy agenda both inside and outside of schools, expand meaningful opportunities for teens to increase access to choice post-high school, and guide collaborative partnerships across schools, City departments, and non-governmental service providers to align education and other vital services for children and families.
Grainger holds her doctorate in Education Leadership (Ed.L.D.) from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. She spent her doctoral residency in Somerville Public Schools where she worked in close partnership with incoming BPS Superintendent Mary Skipper. Her capstone work centered on the use of data to strategically redesign inequitable systems.
Grainger rejoined Somerville Public Schools in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic as the Principal Strategic Coordinator. There she coordinated across the district and city departments to align planning for school reopening. She served as lead writer in developing the state required back-to-school plan.”On behalf of Boston Public Schools, I am proud to welcome Dr. Grainger to Boston,” said incoming Boston Public Schools Superintendent Mary Skipper. “Rebecca and I worked closely together before at Harvard University and Somerville Public Schools. She is a brilliant and consummate professional. I know she will bring her passion and dedication for young people to every part of her work, and I have no doubt that she will be an amazing addition to the Children’s Cabinet.”
In her new role, Grainger will also work with the Office of Early Childhood. In March, Kristin McSwain was announced as Director of the Office of Early Childhood, tasked with working to expand access to early education and childcare programs, investing in Boston’s early education and care workforce, and building a central point-of-entry for residents looking for information on early education and childcare programming.
“With Rebecca’s appointment, for the first time City Hall has a team focused on ensuring that all of Boston’s young people, regardless of age, have access to the rich opportunities that our city offers as well as support across city agencies to thrive,” said Kristin McSwain, Senior Advisor & Director, Office of Early Childhood. “Many families in Boston have young children and school aged children, and we need to ensure they all have tools to succeed no matter what neighborhood they live in. I look forward to working with Rebecca to make sure our City services are coordinated to meet the needs of families and their children of all ages.”Previously, as a Fellow at the Institute for Learning at the University of Pittsburgh, Grainger served as a scholar practitioner bridging the divide between education research and the K-12 classroom. Through professional development, curriculum design, and partnering with researchers, she pushed the boundaries between educator and student roles, asking students and teachers to create the learning environment in partnership. At the foundation of the instructional design was empowering teachers to engage students in productive talk and active questioning to raise student voice and agency in their education.
Grainger lives in the West End with her husband. This staffing announcement builds on recent efforts to improve the lives of Boston’s children and their families. In July, the Mayor announced a $20 million investment to expand Boston’s Universal Pre-K Program, expanding support for community-based classrooms, increasing the number of seats available to 3 and 4-year-olds for the upcoming school year, and beginning integrating family child care providers into the UPK system. In May, Mayor Wu announced a $17 million BPS food service contract with City Fresh Foods