JoAnna Selig and Shellee Woodward co-founded Advocates for Education, Inc. after working for the RJS Foundation in partnership with Family Promise of Hendricks County in Central Indiana. While working with the homeless and often transient population that the RJS Foundation and Family Promise serve, they were able to see first hand how these at-risk children can often fall through the cracks when it comes to their educational attainment. In fact, the first four children they assisted through the RJS Foundation and Family Promise were all being retained at grade level.
In order to assist Family Promise, JoAnna and Shellee worked closely with these families and conducted comprehensive educational reviews and evaluations. They found that three of the four children were likely to have undiagnosed disabilities that would meet eligibility criteria for special services in schools. They educated the families on how to navigate the special education system, and in doing so, found their calling.
JoAnna and Shellee were no strangers to the education system. Both of them had struggled getting special education services for their own struggling children. With the support of the RJS Foundation, they created their own nonprofit aimed at assisting struggling students and families in need of educational advocacy: Advocates for Education, Inc.