Annie Lee

The Project

Annie improved the educational outcomes of California foster youth by ensuring effective implementation of the landmark foster youth education provisions of Assembly Bill 97 (Local Control Funding Formula or LCFF) through legal and policy advocacy.

In California, more than 57,000 children are in foster care, and these children face academic challenges given the abuse or neglect that resulted in their removal from their parents and the additional trauma from instability in the child welfare system. Even when compared with similarly economically disadvantaged students, foster youth are less likely to graduate from high school, enroll in college, or remain in college. In 2013, California passed the Local Control Funding Formula and became the first state in the country to hold school districts accountable for the educational outcomes of foster youth. LCFF implementation at the state and local levels presents unprecedented opportunity to close the foster youth achievement gap.

Fellowship Highlights

Through legal and policy advocacy, Annie improved educational outcomes of foster youth. She built a successful coalition of foster youth students and community leaders to persuade Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) to devote $160,500 of its LCFF funding to foster youth, which enabled OUSD to: hire two new employees for its Foster Youth Program, which originally only had one employee; establish a new Foster Youth Advisory Council with two foster youth student representatives; establish foster youth liaisons at all middle and high schools; and, pilot a research-proven education teaming program for 50 foster youth students. Beyond OUSD, Annie testified nine times before the State Board of Education and provided over a dozen trainings to school districts, Court Appointment Special Advocates, social workers, and child welfare attorneys on foster youth educational supports and how LCFF can be used to improve educational outcomes. She also amplified her impact across the state by developing and distributing LCFF fact sheets, a model Local Control and Accountability Plan (LCAP) for foster youth, and a comprehensive analysis of all foster youth provisions of the LCAPs from every school district in Alameda County, among other educational materials.

Next Steps

After her Fellowship, Annie joined the U.S. Department of Education in the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) as a Civil Rights Attorney. At OCR, Annie investigated whether school districts, colleges, and universities discriminated against students on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, disability, and/or age. She led two of the Department’s high priority compliance reviews, one regarding a district’s use of restraint and seclusions on students with disabilities and the other on a district’s response to notice of employee-on-student and student-on-student sexual assault. Annie also resolved a number of cases involving Title IX athletics, educational programming for English Learner students, and different treatment in discipline based on race. Currently, Annie is the Director of Policy at Chinese for Affirmative Action (CAA). In this role, she formulates and leads the organization’s policy work on CAA core civil rights issues, including immigrant rights, economic justice, language diversity, education equity, community safety and justice, and Stop AAPI Hate.


My Impact: A Conversation with 2014 Fellow Annie Lee

National Center for Youth Law Calls for Districts to Report Foster Student Transfers

California Developing Evaluation Rubrics to Improve Educational Outcomes for Foster Youth