Spotlight: Alumni Association Award: Victor Young '74
“Hold fast to that which is good”
Inspired by his time at St. Paul’s School, Victor Young ’74 has dedicated his life to education
As an educator and philanthropist who has spent his career creating educational opportunities for children of all backgrounds, Victor Young ’74 is quick to note that St. Paul’s School helped shape the foundation from which he still operates. When asked what it means to receive the School’s Alumni Association Award, Young says, “Everything. So much of my life’s work has been shaped by experiences at SPS that to now be recognized by this community for my small contributions to a greater good is beyond awesome.”
Young attended the University of Pennsylvania following his four years at SPS, graduating with a degree in mechanical engineering and applied mechanics. While working for Westinghouse Electric Company in Philadelphia, Young noticed an absence of fellow people of color in his field. And, in his words, it “bugged the heck out of” him. His next course of action would change his entire career trajectory.
“I called [Eighth Rector] Bill Oates at St. Paul’s, and I said, ‘This is driving me crazy,’” Young recalls. “And he said, ‘Do something about it.’ He challenged me to become an educator, and I did. Then he hired me, with the understanding that I wanted to figure out how to make the system work for all kids. That instance was my driver, and it still is.” Young’s career in education and social justice took him to Phillips Academy Andover as a physics teacher, the Cleveland Foundation as a senior program officer, and the Education Enhancement Partnership in Canton, Ohio, where he was the founding executive director. Young spent a year as the senior education consultant at the Rockefeller Center in New York, before returning to Cleveland as president of the Learning Communities Network, Inc., and managing director of the Busara Group LLC.
In 2009, Young returned to New York and founded Cornerstone Literacy Inc., a teacher professional development organization, created to support measurable improvement in the literacy skills of elementary school children from high-poverty communities. Young oversaw a successful merger in 2015, during which Cornerstone became part of the Center for the Collaborative Classroom, a national nonprofit professional learning and curriculum development organization based in California. Young currently serves as a trustee and chair of the Finance and Investments Committee of the KnowledgeWorks Foundation. He is a past chair of the Center of the Future of Teaching and Learning at WestEd, vice chair of the Institute for Research and Reform in Education, and a founding director of Grantmakers for Education. Young also was the principal planner and a founder of the highly acclaimed St. Philips Academy in Newark, N.J., which has sent many inner-city youths to top boarding schools.
“‘Hold fast to that which is good’ are words that have been with me from my mornings in Chapel until this day,” says Young, “as I work to do just that in the face of never-ending challenges as a servant to underserved children and families.”