About Us

Nearly 60 years since the Brown v Board of Education decisions, African American students continue to lack equal access to a high quality education and still lag far behind their white peers in reading and math proficiency, high school rates, and college completion.

The White House Initiative on Advancing Educational Equity, Excellence and Economic Opportunity for Black Americans (The Initiative) is a cross-agency effort aimed at identifying evidence-based practices that improve student achievement, and developing a national network that shares these best practices.

The Initiative works to strengthen the nation by improving educational outcomes for Black Americans of all ages, and to help ensure that all African Americans receive an education that properly prepares them for college, productive careers, and satisfying lives including in the following ways:

  • Highlighting the role of educators and administrators in increasing and improving access to high quality learning opportunities while also finding ways to support them in their work;
  • Supporting efforts to increase the number of African American teachers and administrators, specifically the number of African American males in the profession;
  • Enhancing investments in high quality early care and education programs, specifically increasing the number of African American children enrolled in quality childcare and preschool programs;
  • Reinforcing connections to rigorous K-12 courses and increasing access to critical supports, including by strengthening relationships between schools and communities and local businesses, social service agencies, health care providers, and parent and volunteer organizations; and by
  • Helping to increase the number of African American students applying to, persisting in and successfully completing college.


Initiative Staff

Alexis K. Holmes, Executive Director

Alexis K. Holmes serves as the Executive Director of the White House Initiative on Advancing Educational Equity, Excellence, and Economic Opportunity for Black Americans. Most recently she served at the National Education Association as Policy Manager in its Education Policy and Implementation Center. Previously, she was responsible for advocating policies related to secondary schools, career and technical education, and family engagement, and led NEA’s national outreach and engagement of the Black community. Prior to joining NEA, Alexis was director of federal relations at College Board, where she worked closely with educators, institutions, community advocates, and civil rights allies to advance policies that support all students aspirations and postsecondary success. Alexis is a graduate of West Virginia University’s School of Journalism with a focus on public relations and political science.

Larry Bowden, Jr., Deputy Director

Larry Bowden, Jr.  recently served as Special Assistant in the Office of the Secretary at the U.S. Department of Education focusing on school reopenings and American Rescue Plan spending before transitioning to Deputy Director of the White House Initiative on Advancing Educational Equity, Excellence, and Economic Opportunity for Black Americans. Before joining the Department he worked in various roles on the Biden-Harris Presidential Campaign, with the most recent being the Deputy Organizing Director of North Florida. Prior to joining the Biden campaign in Iowa, he worked on many campaigns across the country, including Governor J.B. Pritzker of Illinois gubernatorial campaign as a Regional Director. Larry earned his Bachelor of Science in political science from Florida A&M University.

Monique S. Toussaint

Monique S. Toussaint manages the operational duties of the Initiative (i.e. strategic planning, project management, programming, etc.), coordinates the student volunteer intern program, and facilitates relationships with internal and external stakeholders. Her primary focus includes highlighting resources to  improve the programs, practices and policies enacted by the caring and concerned adults responsible for students’ development and to increase the participation of the African American community and institutions that serve the Black community in the Department’s programs and in education programs at other agencies.  A former Program Officer in the Parental Options and Information (POI) division of the Office of Innovation and Improvement (OII), this dynamic federal employee has provided technical assistance to the grantees of various programs. In addition to developing, implementing and evaluating programs, she administered multiple contracts; played a leadership role in the integration of a family engagement framework that informs the practices and policies of the Department; served as a Corporate Recruiter; and was a founding member of the Family and Community Engagement Strategy team.

Prior to joining the federal government, Monique held positions in the Leadership Development Division at the Institute of International Education; Sallie Mae’s Kids2College DC; American University’s Career Center; conducted her practicum at the Institute of College Preparation at Georgetown University’s Center for Multicultural Equity and Access; and participated in a two week Delegation on Business in China with the International Scholar Laureate Program.

Monique holds a M.A. in Education and Human Development from George Washington University and a B.S. in Business Administration from the Kogod School of Business at American University in Washington, DC. She enjoys helping others help themselves, served as a tutor with Horton’s Kids, is a Past President of the Rotary Club of Dupont Circle, and was an inaugural member and Professional Development Co-Chair of the YWCA’s newly established Young Women’s Leadership Council. Passionate about empowering others, she is a Group Coach for the Office of Personnel Management’s (OPM) Presidential Management Fellows (PMF) Leadership Development Program, Executive Coach for the Treasury Executive Institute, was an Adjunct Instructor for the Adult Basic Education program at Prince George’s Community College, received the 2013 Martin Luther King, Jr. Drum Major for Service President’s Volunteer Service Award, and was recognized for Leadership in the 2017 Who’s Who Among Young Professionals by the National Urban League Young Professionals. She is a 2021 Alumni of the Excellence in Government Fellows Program with the Partnership for Public Service.

Salome Daniel, Confidential Assistant

Salome Daniel is a recent graduate of Howard University’s School of Business. She has interned with the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation where she assessed business processes, presented research, and drafted affordable housing policy. Most recently, she has served as a payroll specialist in the Newark Youth One Stop Career Center in New Jersey. There she engaged the city’s youth via casework correspondence and processed regular payroll.