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Putting People and Community First: Questions for Jill Moses (BA '07, MA '08)

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Jill Moses is empowering parents to advocate for a more equitable distribution of special education resources for their children.

Jill Moses (BA '07, MA '08), a graduate of NYU Steinhardt's programs in special education and literacy education, is the founder and CEO of the Inspired Community Project, Inc, a nonprofit serving New York City’s families of children with special needs. A Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA), and New York State Licensed Behavior Analyst (LBA), she served as managing director of the McCarton Center Bronx, and as a special education teacher at the Department of Education's ASD Horizon Program at P.S 133 in Harlem, as well as eight years teaching for District 75 at P.S 231 in Brooklyn.

Steinhardt News spoke to Moses about her career in special education, her nonprofit foundation, and her vision for equity in public school education.

portrait of Jill Moses out doors beside color folliage

Jill Moses

Can you tell us how your career evolved? Why did you decide to create a nonprofit foundation?

 I am currently fifteen years into my special education career I started out in 2007 providing in-home early intervention, that’s where I fell in love with Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) and working within the autism community. I then moved into a classroom teaching position with the New York City Department of Education, working in District 75; serving New York City’s children with the most need. I have taught kindergarten through 3rd grade in a 6:1:1 autism program. In 2015, I obtained Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) certification and became the 1,018th New York Licensed Behavior Analysts (LBA) in the state. I started providing supervision for children receiving in-home ABA. After eight years of teaching, four years of supervision, and raising two children, I left the Department of Education to work full time as a BCBA in the role of Clinical & Educational Director of an early intervention center in the Bronx.

After over a decade of providing special education services across different zip codes throughout New York City and seeing the major disparity in quality and quantity of services; I knew what I had to do. I believe that equity in education is a fundamental human right and the disparity in access, resources, and quality, can be course-corrected if we put people and community first.

In September 2021, returned to teaching in the midst of the pandemic and started The Inspired Community Project.

portrait of Jill Moses out doors beside color folliage

New York City is one of the most diverse cities in the world with the most segregated and inequitable education systems in the country."

Tell us about the Inspired Community Project. 

The Inspired Community Project, Inc was founded under the idea that special education instruction, resources and career opportunities should be equally accessible across all people, communities, and boroughs. New York City is one of the most diverse cities in the world with the most segregated and inequitable education systems in the country. As educators our mission is to create lifelong learners. We teach our children how to learn, empower our families to be fierce advocates, and support community members to become the certified professionals that the community needs. Through high quality training, hands-on support, and a people-first focus, we are creating a sustainable foundation for future generations within the special education community. Our vision is equitable access to special education services and resources. We believe that empowering and fostering professionals and advocates in the community will support and serve its youngest members. With equity, advocacy, and empowerment at our core, driving all of our decision-making, focusing our course, we know that a more equitable special education system in New York City is possible.

portrait of Jill Moses out doors beside color folliage

I’ve worked with families who have had to overcome more than I could ever comprehend, working against a system not set up for them."

What are some of the challenges you face in running a non-profit organization?

Funding. Not shocking, I know. It’s hard to obtain funding, especially start-up funding, as most foundations, corporations and organizations want to see proof of concept. They want to see how you have been operating for the last 1-3 years and they rely and thrive off of established relationships. Through my many years in the NYC education scene I have been so very fortunate to work with, become connected to, or be introduced to wonderful advocates and supporters who are very excited to support The Inspired Community Project. We are in a unique situation for a nonprofit as we are looking for front loaded support in order to move into our “unicorn” of a space for this September, however our program once open will be sustained on our direct service, partnerships and other revenue streams. Most nonprofits are seeking long-term donors, legacy giving, major annual gifts and the sorts, and they need them for sustainability. We need enough support in the idea of establishing holistic and self-supporting special education programs that funders/donors/supporters are willing to help raise enough money to move into our space. Early Intervention is a long-time, data supported, and empirically replicated program that has almost 30 years in the books. We also know that the Bronx has the highest early intervention referral rate, but the lowest participation rate due to a lack of trained professionals. The data tells us how we will be successful, our experience tells us why we will be successful. We are a group of advocates, educators, parents, and allies who know that when you empower the people in the community to serve the community, everyone wins. 
 

portrait of Jill Moses out doors beside color folliage

We are a group of advocates, educators, parents, and allies who know that when you empower the people in the community to serve the community, everyone wins."

And speaking of inspiration, can you tell us who inspires you?

I have met so many amazing and inspirational women that I could point to. However, the impact that the families of my students have had on me, has not only shaped my career trajectory, but changed who I am at the core. They taught me about humility, the ability to put pride aside and look to professionals and experts to seek help. They taught me about resourcefulness, navigating multiple jobs, high-needs children's health, schooling and finding support services, often will have little to no guidance. I’ve worked with families who have overcome more than I could ever comprehend, working against a system not set up for them, working to get services from a system made overly complicated by bureaucratic red tape. And these parents show up every single day because they have to. They do not get to “hang it up” on a Friday night and put it behind them. Every day I dedicate my career, my passion and my determination to supporting the immeasurably tenacious families of children with disabilities with whom I have had the honor to work with. 

Related Programs

Special Education

Learn to develop child-centered educational environments for students of all abilities and gain firsthand teaching experience with diverse student populations.

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Literacy Education

Build on your experience as a teacher to become a literacy specialist and integrate the teaching of reading and writing into your curriculum or research.

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