Gretta Schaaf (she/hers) is a community organizer, facilitator, and advocate for youth with over ten years of experience in public and community service. Prior to her selection as a NationalUrban Fellow, Gretta served as Deputy Director of Young Voices, a statewide nonprofit organization dedicated to addressing the desperate need for youth voice in policymaking inRhode Island. Gretta has worked alongside hundreds of students to testify for and advance educational equity including winning statewide legislative reform that bans the use of out-of-school suspensions for non-violent infractions in Rhode Island.
Most recently, Gretta partnered with the Rhode Island Department of Education (RIDE) to secure a one-million-dollar grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to better prepare multilingual learners in Providence Public Schools for Algebra I. She led a cohort of high school students at Young Voices to complete an intensive curriculum review, make data-driven recommendations to RIDE, and design and deliver a youth-led professional learning series for teachers statewide.
During her career at Young Voices, Gretta also partnered with Blackstone Academy CharterSchool (BACS) to co-create a system for student voice and decision-making power at every level, in every school initiative. She collaborated with BACS students and families to ensure they were active partners and leaders in their school’s redesign. Together, they designed aPortrait of a Graduate and Proficiency Based Learning Framework that is culturally responsive and student-centered.
Gretta is a Providence College graduate with a BA in Public and Community Service Studies, minor in Political Science, and certificate in Public Administration. She was a 2014 NewmanCivic Fellow and received the Highest Academic Concentration in Major Award atCommencement. During her time as an undergraduate, she worked in the Feinstein Institute forPublic Service for four years, was a member of the Division I Cheerleading Team for four years,and interned at Providence Student Union for one year. She also grew her passion for cultivating reciprocal and sustainable partnerships between universities and community organizations.
Gretta has served on a variety of statewide committees including Showing up for Racial Justice(SURJ), Kids Count Anti-Racist Policy Collaborative, and the Children & Youth CabinetPost-Secondary Attainment Sub-Committee. She was a New Leaders Council2019 Fellow and served as the Recruitment Chair on the NLC Rhode Island Board of Directors for two years.
Through the National Urban Fellows program, Gretta aims to deepen her knowledge in policy analysis and management and become a more effective anti-racist leader and ally in her personal and professional life. She is excited to grow her network and build transformative relationships with others. Gretta is committed to designing at the margins, building student power, and elevating oppressed voices in policy, community, and educational change.