The voice of California’s charter school movement

This Year’s Bragato & Hart Vision Awards Ceremony Was Like No Other

By California Charter Schools Association

After our Annual California Charter Schools Conference was canceled in March due to COVID-19, we knew that this unprecedented time called for an unprecedented approach to holding our annual Bragato and Hart Vision Awards Ceremony. Relying on our movement’s strengths of flexibility and innovation, we adapted to the moment and held a virtual ceremony on Facebook this week

Despite the new format, there was perhaps no better time to recognize and celebrate talented high school seniors, leaders, educators, and legislators from across California. Each one of these individuals—and communities—is strengthening our movement in their own distinct way. It is people like this that remind us why we are stronger together in challenging times.

Before we get to this year’s winners, let’s share some background on the scholarships and awards:

  • The Susan Steelman Bragato Scholarship is named in honor of Susan Steelman Bragato, the co-founder of the first charter school in California and the founder of the California Network of Educational Charters (CNEC), which went on to become CCSA in 2003. These $2,000 scholarships are awarded to 10 high-achieving, college-bound charter high school seniors.
  • The Hart Vision Awards are named in honor of Gary K. Hart, retired California State Senator and our state’s former Secretary of Education who also authored California’s first charter law. The awards recognize individuals who have made significant contributions to CCSA’s mission to advocate for high-quality non-profit charter schools.
  • The Rachel Willis-Henry Volunteer of the Year Award is a newly re-named award in honor of our late staff member and parent advocate, Rachel Willis-Henry. The award celebrates advocates who spend countless hours working with their local charter public schools and improving education for all students, much like Rachel’s own dedication in life.

If you missed the virtual ceremony, you can watch the stories of each of the winners below:

2020 Susan Steelman Bragato Scholarship Award: Congratulations to each of the 10 charter public  high school students from across the state! Each of these students have demonstrated a proven ability to succeed at the college level.



2020 Rachel Willis-Henry Volunteer of the Year Award: SUZANNE CHERRY

Congratulations to Encore High School board member and advocate, Suzanne Cherry! Suzanne is demonstrating that you don’t have to be a full-time volunteer to have a huge impact on the charter community.



2020 Hart Vision Teacher of the Year: MARISSA ESPINOSA

Congratulations to San Jacinto Valley Academy’s Marissa Espinosa! She’s known for being a tough cookie, but also a favorite of her students.



2020 Hart Vision Northern California Leader of the Year: FRANCES TESO

Congratulations to Voices College-Bound Language Academies Frances Teso! This leader of a high-performing dual immersion school never backs down from any challenge. 


2020 Hart Vision Southern California Leader of the Year: ALISON DIAZ!

Congratulations to  Environmental Charter Schools Alison Diaz! This innovative leader’s vision is helping students not only become scholars, but citizens of the community. 



2020 Hart Vision Southern California School of the Year:  ALLIANCE COLLEGE-READY PUBLIC SCHOOLS

Congratulations to Alliance CRPS! This network of schools is going above and beyond to ensure students get into AND complete college.




2020 Hart Vision Northern California School of the Year: AMERICAN INDIAN MODEL SCHOOLS (AIMS)

Congratulations to AIMS! This diverse and high-performing school has deep roots in the community it serves.




Congratulations to Assemblymember Wendy Carillo, Senator Shannon Grove, and LAUSD Board Member Nick Melvoin! During a very challenging time last year, these elected leaders courageously advocated for quality charter schools and the families they serve.

Learn more about this year's and past winners by going here.