Jacob Cohen

Jacob Cohen Bio

Jacob is currently a joint Master inPublic Policy and Master in Business Administration candidate at HarvardUniversity. Before graduate school, he served for three years at the deputydirector of the Vietnamese American Young Leaders Association of New Orleans(VAYLA), a youth empowerment and organizing group that works to promoteenvironmental justice and education equity through bottom-up youth organizingand leadership development. During histenure at VAYLA, Jacob managed funder relations, developed the majority of theorganization’s grant proposals, and founded a new program, The Raise Your Hand Campaign.In his fund development role, Jacob was instrumental in attracting over a dozennew foundation partners and tripling the size of the organization’s annualbudget from $250,000 to $750,000.

As founder and director of The RaiseYour Hand Campaign, Jacob grew the program to seven staff, trained over 50student leaders, and empowered over 300 students and community members toactively engage in efforts to improve local education policy. Under Jacob’sleadership, the program published three policy reports, held numerous pressconferences and public actions, garnered over 25 major-outlet news stories, andbrought about concrete policy changes that strengthened interpretation andtranslation services for limited-English families, increased communityoversight for charter schools, expanded student access to health services, andbolstered student representation on school turnaround committees. Additionally, the program facilitated over 20high-level policy meetings between student leaders and state officials, pioneereda model for student-led school board candidate forums, and spawned the creationof several citywide youth organizing coalitions. In 2012, the program forged aninnovative partnership between student leaders and high impact laworganizations that resulted in the successful filing of a legal complaint tothe Department of Justice concerning the rights of English Language Learners.

Prior to joining VAYLA, Jacob worked asthe founding deputy director of the national Challah for Hunger organization,authoring the organization’s first three-year strategic plan and helping tosuccessfully garner $100,000 in seed capital from several Jewish social venturefoundations. As an undergraduate at Pomona College, Jacob received leadershipawards and fellowships from the Public Policy and International Affairsprogram, the Davis Projects for Peace initiate, the Napier Center,