When parents lead, students succeed: Transform Education Now

December 1, 2023

Joanna Rosa-Saenz is “that mom.”  

She attends all her kids’ school events and activities; goes to every parent meeting at school and is cheering from the sidelines at every one of her kids’ games. She shows up for her children with grace, strength, and commitment.  

Joanna shows up for her community in the same way.  She has been a community organizer for 20 years, all while raising three young boys as a single mom. 

When she heard about plans to dismantle the biliteracy program in Adams 14 School District, she quickly started organizing the parents in Commerce City to help save the program. That’s when she came across Transform Education Now.  

Transform Education Now is a team of community organizers dedicated to the radical belief that every single child deserves access to a world-class education, regardless of what neighborhood or what zip code they come from.


They also believe that education should be in partnership and defined by the families who have their children in that school. 

“I like helping families and individuals realize that they are the leaders that their community needs,” said Nicholas Martinez, the executive director and co-founder of Transform Education Now.  

Long before Joanna started working with the organization, she was already talking to elected officials and engaging with members of her community. “All we did was offer her support,” said Martinez.  

He and his team gave her additional tools and resources. They served as thought partners to Joanna and the other families as they stood to defend the biliteracy programs. “Transform Education Now offered childcare for families to have the opportunity to show up to the school board meetings,” explained Joanna. “They offered food, buses for transportation, and all the support we needed to put together parent groups.”  

All this support was essential to ensure that families could engage in school board meetings but also have a say in the next steps of the school district and the quality of the education moving forward.  

With the support of Transform Education Now, the parents’ leadership led to the Adams 14 superintendent, and several other board members at the time, to step down. Their impact didn’t stop there, Joanna and other parents accomplished unprecedented intervention from the Department of Education creating the opportunity for district turnaround that continues today. 


“We wouldn’t have had that triumph, if we didn’t have Transform Education Now,” said Joanna. She and other parents saw this as a win because they didn’t feel heard or valued by any of those elected officials through the process of saving the biliteracy program.  

“I know I am empowered, and I can help train other parents just like me, as a single mom of three kids,” said Joanna. “If I could do it, so could they.” 

“I would like to thank The Denver Foundation for the support to Transform Education Now to help a parent like me really take action in making changes,” she said.  

The Denver Foundation believes that access to a well-funded and racially equitable K-12 education system is critical for communities in Metro Denver to thrive. That is why we support Transform Education Now’s commitment to investing in our future generations. This nonprofit has been a grantee of the Community Grants Program.   

“We know that families take what they learn from us and apply it to the rest of their lives,” said Martinez. “Let’s make sure our kids are okay first and foremost.”

Photos courtesy: Armando Geneyro