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Essence Kimes

  • Hosted by Education Law Center
  • Sponsored by McGuire Woods LLP, PNC Bank
  • Service location Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
  • Law school University of Pittsburgh School of Law
  • Issue area Education/Special Education
  • Fellowship class year 2020
  • Program Design Your Own Fellowship

The Project

Essence will increase access to race-positive, gender-responsive, and trauma-informed mental health supports and services for Black girls in school through legal representation, community engagement, and systemic advocacy. 

The educational needs of Black girls are critical. Black girls are disproportionally criminalized and pushed out of schools compared to their white counterparts. It is imperative that Black girls have less interaction with police in schools and more interaction with counselors and trained mental health professionals. 

Essence was inspired to do this work after growing up as a Black woman in Pittsburgh and seeing first-hand the need for change. She benefited from mental health resources that helped her achieve success and aims to provide the same opportunity for Black girls in her community.  

Fellowship Plans

Essence will provide legal advice and representation to students experiencing special education and early intervention issues; enrollment disputesharassment and bullying; disciplinary hearings; and truancy proceedings. She will provide community education and develop tools and resources for local communitiesShe will also plan small group “Know YouRights” sessions for parents and will work collaboratively with school districts to develop responsive policies and procedures. 

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Devon Rios

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Jennifer Levin

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Sponsor: Greenberg Traurig, LLP