Taking Luck Out of the Equation

In this episode, Le’Yondo Dunn, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) at YouthBuild Philadelphia Charter School, joins our host Uva Coles.  In a candid conversation, Dunn and Uva speak out about the importance of representation, share lived experiences, talk about mental health, and emphasize how we can’t leave the future of our young people in the hands of luck. 


Le’Yondo Dunn is the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) at YouthBuild Philadelphia Charter School. His passion for working in education stemmed from his own experiences, which mirror many students attending YouthBuild. He firmly believes that all students should have access to a high-quality education and educators who believe endlessly in their potential regardless of their zip codes.

His excitement about leading YouthBuild Philadelphia Charter School arises from its inspiring mission and the opportunities it provides young adults. The school's commitment to fostering an environment of love, support, and respect for the whole person deeply resonates with him. By empowering students with vital skills and connecting them to opportunities, YouthBuild equips them to graduate high school successfully and transition to college and career paths as critically conscious leaders devoted to positive change for themselves and their communities.

Before assuming the role of CEO at YouthBuild, Le’Yondo made significant contributions to the field of education during his time as the principal at Simon Gratz High School in North Philadelphia. There, he spearheaded an impactful anti-gun violence initiative, leading to its subsequent adoption by the entire Mastery Charter system, implemented across all secondary schools. For the first time since 2012, Le’Yondo successfully united Gratz as a comprehensive 9-12 high school under one leadership team, bringing improved educational opportunities. He also launched Career and Technical Education programming to ensure students have multiple pathway options when transitioning to their postsecondary paths. Prior, he worked as a school administrator in several other large, high-performing charter management organizations. Le’Yondo's dedication to education advocacy began in Southeast Louisiana, his home state, where he first recognized the power of education to create positive change. He also played a crucial role in supporting the founding of one of the first charter schools in the state of Washington, where he witnessed the transformative potential of alternative education models. Mr. Dunn attended the University of New Orleans and St. Joseph’s University. Le’Yondo resides in Germantown with his wife, who is also an educator, and son.

Our WellSpring Host

Uva Coles, Chief Learning Officer
Uva Coles serves as Chief Learning Officer for Spring Point Partners. As the organization’s external learning steward, Uva’s leadership ensures that equity, human-centered leadership, and narrative change are woven through every aspect of SPP’s partner-based learning deliveries. A writer, speaker, inclusive organizational strategist, and lifelong learner, Uva believes every room we step into is a classroom. Sometimes we are teachers; sometimes we are students. Our best learning happens, she believes, when we can be both.

Key Takeaways 
  • Education is a tool to liberate young people. 

  • Representation matters. We can’t leave things to a matter of luck - luck is not equitable and must be taken out of the equation.

  • We have to slow down, practice understanding and empathy  and be willing to both learn and push our thinking and views. 

  • As leaders, it’s not our role to only make change. We must also sustain change. 

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Taking Luck Out of the Equation
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