This fall, Innovate parent leaders saw a dream come true with the opening of two new schools in Redwood City. Parents have been working for several years to bring new high-quality school options to their community, engaging dozens of elected officials and 1,000 parents to ultimately win the approval of two new charter schools – one run by Rocketship Education and one run by KIPP Bay Area Schools.

Last week, parents and students celebrated the ribbon cutting of KIPP Excelencia Community Prep in Redwood City with Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg and community leaders.

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Redwood City Councilmember Alicia Aguirre, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, Innovate Public Schools parent leaders Maritza Leal, Isabel Ocampo and Enrique Esparza and Kyle Shaffer, principal of KIPP Excelencia Community Prep.

Innovate parent leader Isabel Ocampo (in the blue blouse to the right) shared these words:

“Deep in my heart, I wanted more for my daughters in school, and I knew they could do more. Like many parents in my community, I didn’t have many resources so my choices were limited. When I joined Innovate Public Schools, I learned there were many parents that shared my experience.

I worked hard for this day because I know that sending my daughter to KIPP Excelencia will means she will have the skills and mindset to succeed in college and beyond and that she will believe in herself and someday change the world. My daughter now loves going to school.

For the first time in a long time, I feel she belongs to a community – a community where everyone is working towards the same goal.”


Casey Rowe, founding principal of Rocketship Redwood City Prep, greets students. The new school opened its doors this fall.

Rocketship Redwood City Prep launched in late August, led by Principal Casey Rowe. When Innovate parent leaders Enrique Esparza and Maritza Leal went looking for a high-quality school option for their children a few years ago, they ended up going all the way from Redwood City to San Jose every day to have their children attend  Rocketship. Impressed with the school, they decided they wanted to bring Rocketship to Redwood City and started organizing other parents in their community.

Parent leader Enrique Esparza shared these words:

Three years ago, an idea emerged to bring more quality schools to Redwood City. A group of parents got together not knowing what to do, what to expect. With the help of Innovate Public Schools, we got organized and smart on the process, and we began to believe we could do this. 

All I can say is it was worth every effort….We shouldn’t be satisfied with one excellent school for our kids. We should be demanding great schools for every child and expecting that all our children are getting the skills they need here in our own community to be able to work at companies like Facebook, Yahoo, Google, and not as low-wage workers, but as engineers. These schools represent the opportunity to succeed.”

Learn more about the work of parent leaders from Innovate Public Schools to bring new schools to Redwood City.