About Us

Forging new connections among educators to support first generation and lower-income students

The Story Behind The Pivotal Network

The Pivotal Network began with two observations. 

  • Colleges and universities serve as gatekeepers to social mobility: who has the opportunity to attend has the power to redefine (or reinforce) socioeconomic norms in this country. 
  • Yet undermatching – the phenomenon that occurs when students, especially those from marginalized backgrounds, do not attend schools that will maximize their academic potential – remains pervasive in this country. Too often students can’t identify the right schools and those of us in higher education can’t see the full range of excellent students.

As we thought about the students that have been able to match with the right schools, we recognized that this match was made possible not only through the students’ talents and efforts but also through the investment in them from their families, their communities, their schools, and especially their teachers.

This is a universal truth: we’ve all had educators in our lives who had a profound impact on us and on our educational trajectories. Yet too often these ‘Pivotal Educators’ – especially those serving in public education where the need is greatest – aren’t being full supported themselves. Identifying and supporting these Pivotal Educators must become an important goal for those seeking to support students who face the greatest barriers gaining access to college.

Importantly, in higher education, we often know who these Pivotal Educators are because they send us their students. Indeed they tell us all about these students in powerful letters of recommendation that help us see not only the students but also their own practices as exemplary educators. By investing in these educators, institutions of higher education can invest in the educational capital of classrooms and communities from across the country. 

And when we brought all of these pieces together… The Pivotal Network was born. 

The Pivotal Team

Noah Martin

Program Designer

Jerome Smalls

Program Manager

The Pivotal Team Interns

Seth Brown

Junior Content Specialist

Stephanie Leow

Student Engagement Junior Program Specialist

Peris Lopez

Virtual Platform Specialist

Jamyson Smith

Communications Junior Program Specialist

Ashley Finley

Program Evaluator

Sherry Linkon

Network Affiliate

Sabrina Wesley-Nero

Network Affiliate

Tom Toch

Network Affiliate

The Hub for Equity and Innovation in Higher Education is a research and design unit dedicated to the development of equitable and innovative models of education. Housed in Georgetown’s Red House, The Hub brings together expertise from across the University to achieve a greater understanding of the depth and breadth of the landscape of equity and innovation across Georgetown and higher education.

The Hub engages in this work to establish new paradigms for how higher education can play a more significant role in supporting social mobility. In doing so, it seeks to create synergy among individuals and organizations on Georgetown’s campus, across higher education, and in society who are committed to achieving greater equity in education.

Current programming of The Hub includes their Equity in The Academic Experience Summer Institute, community partnerships with DC’s Martha Table and the Goodwill Excel Center, and now The Pivotal Network. 

The Hub for
Equity & Innovation

Georgetown's Role

The call to ensure all students have equal access and opportunity is rightly being heeded by leaders across higher education, and we believe that Georgetown – because of its reputation as an innovator in education and its moral responsibility as a Catholic and Jesuit institution – has a unique leadership role to play. 

Indeed, through its commitments over the past 50 years, Georgetown University has emerged as a leader among our peer institutions in exploring new ways to increase access and success for first generation, low and middle income students, and students from underrepresented groups. We seek this goal not as an act of charity but as a pragmatic and moral imperative. Today, more than ever, we seek new approaches that are evidence-based, bold in their vision, scalable in their design, and financially sustainable.  

Advisory Board