Kenji Treanor, Sobrato Family Foundation

TITLE: Senior Program Officer, 21st Century Education

FOCUS AREAS: Education, low-income and English learner students, charter schools, teacher and administrator training

CONTACT: Visit PeopleFinder for email and phone number (paid subscribers only)

PROFILE: Kenji Treanor is Sobrato’s senior program officer who leads the 21st Century Education program, which has four components:

  • Sobrato Early Academic Language [SEAL] Model—expanding this proven professional development and program model that enables students, particularly English Learners, to attain age-appropriate literacy and grade-level mastery of academic material by the end of third grade.
  • Quality School Alternatives—ensuring high-quality school options are in place to prevent low-income students from attending under-performing schools.
  • Charter Growth & Facilities—opening additional high-quality schools in our target counties, and expanding the use of suitable district facilities.
  • New Teacher & School Leadership Development—supporting local university, teacher and administrator training programs to prepare candidates for school leadership positions, and bolster training around oral language development for English Learners.

Treanor’s SFF bio shares:

As Senior Program Officer, Kenji Treanor is charged with strategy development and execution of Sobratos’ education-related activities—including program design, grantee and project identification, proposal review, funding recommendations, impact evaluation, and representing Sobrato to coordinate efforts with other funders and partners. Mr. Treanor provides strategic leadership and top-line management of the Sobrato Early Academic Language initiative, including creating and directing the program’s scaling plan, and supervising senior SEAL staff. Mr. Treanor joined SFF in 2013 after nine years at the James Irvine Foundation, where he served most recently as Program Officer, managing $12.3M in grants to improve college and career readiness of low-income students, and leading a number of initiatives, grant clusters, technical assistance and peer learning activities to enhance grantee effectiveness. He is also co-founder and board leader of Next Generation Scholars, an educational nonprofit that serves disadvantaged youth and families in Marin County. Mr. Treanor received his Master’s in Public Administration from the University of San Francisco and holds a BA in American Studies, with emphasis in Ethnic Studies and Socio-Political Analysis from UC Santa Cruz.

Professional affiliations include Grantmakers for Effective Organizations, Grantmakers for Education, Asian Americans & Pacific Islanders in Philanthropy, Lunar Giving Circle, and the Japanese American Citizens League. Treanor’s Unviersity of California Santa Cruz Oakes College bio elaborates and shares:

A 1999 graduate of Oakes College, Kenji Treanor earned his B.A. in American Studies with an emphasis in ethnic studies and socio-political analysis.  Since graduating, Kenji has continued his social justice work through his professional as well as volunteer activities.  In 2004 he joined the James Irvine Foundation as a Grants Manager and Program Associate in the Youth Programs division, where he was recently promoted to Program Officer.  As a Program Officer, he works closely with nonprofit organizations, public schools, and community projects to develop and support programs that increase the number of low-income youth in California who earn a postsecondary credential.

Beyond his work with the Irvine Foundation, Kenji cofounded and serves on the Board of Directors of Next Generation Scholars, a community-based organization dedicated to improving educational outcomes for low-income youth in Marin County.  Founded in 2003, Next Generation Scholars is premised on the belief that equal access to higher education is critical to positive change in the local community, and their mission is “to level the playing field by providing dedicated underserved students with all the advantages available to those of privilege.”  To this end, Next Generation Scholars brings together rigorous academic programming, community building activities, and holistic social services, all within the context of social justice and multicultural education.  One of Next Generation Scholars’ primary goals is to help “students see themselves as active forces for change within our community.”

Thus far, Next Generation Scholars’ results have been impressive: 100% of the participating students have been accepted to 4 year colleges and 92% are thriving in some of the best universities in the United States, including UCSC, Stanford, UC Berkeley, UCLA, UC Davis, New York University, Brown, Georgetown, Williams, and Vassar.  In addition, students of Next Generation Scholars are committed to the American promise of equality and justice for all, and part of their work with Next Generation Scholars involves substantial community activism.  After studying the history of social justice movements in the United States, students formulate their own action plans for social justice projects in the local community.  In the past, such projects have included anti-violence projects, food distribution programs, Latino history and culture curricula for local schools, and a “Mother’s Day in a Box” program at Marin Abused Women’s Services.

It’s no surprise that Kenji has created such an incredible program from all that he learned at UCSC and at Oakes.  While at UCSC, Kenji was a stellar student—he was elected to Phi Beta Kappa and graduated with honors—and also a committed social activist.  Asked recently to share some words of advice with current UCSC undergraduates, he offered two especially valuable suggestions: “Keep a balanced perspective: know the nuts and bolts AND see the big picture.  When you are working at either level, you will be more effective and have more credibility” and “Be flexible: Things change, go with it, and keep smiling.”

You can learn more about Treanor’s grantmaking perspectives by reading his posts on the James Irvine Foundation blog. Also watch Four Minutes With Kenji Treanor.