Virginia Excels serves as a platform for communities to shape public education by advocating for policies and practices that are good for kids, families and communities.
We work for the day when every student in the Richmond region and across the Commonwealth has equitable access to an excellent public education, regardless of race or family income.
In our pursuit of educational equity, we concentrate on policies and practices that advance racial and socioeconomic justice—both in and around schools—so that every child has the chance she deserves.
We serve as a resource for facts, research and best practices in public education so that our entire community can access information about critical issues facing our students and schools.
We partner with those closest to public schools—families, communities, service providers and educators—to determine the greatest obstacles to our children’s academic success and to identify solutions with the greatest potential to advance educational equity.
Through research and engagement with a national network of experts, we identify opportunities to remove these barriers and set up our children, especially those from historically underserved backgrounds, for lifelong success.
Together with our partners, we provide opportunities for our community to advocate for changes in policy, practice and culture that foster equity and excellence for our students and families
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Taylor Keeney, Communications Consultant
Taikein Cooper has a deep affection and strong commitment to local politics and helping people engage in the American political process.
Born in historic Prince Edward County, one of the five counties in the landmark Brown v. Board of Education case, Cooper is a 2006 graduate from both Southside Virginia Community College and Prince Edward County High School. He has lived in Virginia his entire life, except to attend college at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Long before Taikein could drive, he was canvassing throughout Virginia’s communities as an 11 year old to help elect his D.A.R.E (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) teacher, Travis Harris, as Prince Edward County’s Sheriff.
During his college years, Taikein led various political action committees, served on the prestigious Chancellor’s Search Committee and even led a grassroots effort to Jena, Louisiana, calling for justice for the infamous Jena Six.
After graduating from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2010, he returned to his true passion, fighting for the betterment of the people of Virginia. As a counselor in a correctional center in Chesapeake, VA, Taikein saw first-hand how political decisions affect the social welfare of constituents.
Most notably in 2012, Taikein ran in a special election for Prince Edward County Treasurer at 24 years old. Throughout his campaign, his age remained a hot topic, since many young adults are not active in political affairs.
The trials that he faced in his campaign, coupled with young people becoming energized, inspired Taikein to engage them in both his campaign as well as teaching them how to chase their dreams. At 25, Taikein was asked to run for US Congress in Virginia's 5th Congressional District.
Taikein resigned as the Chief Executive Officer of a private behavioral agency, which served nearly 100 clients throughout the Commonwealth to enhance his personal consulting firm. Since the 2012 special election, he has been speaking at universities and colleges, community rallies and other local institutions across the nation about the importance and power of young adults in today’s political environment and the importance of living for YOU. He co-hosts the socio-political podcast, Ain’t No Free Lunch, with Ms. Danielle Greene.