Spotlight: School Choice Advocate

Derrell Bradford says a scholarship to 'hoity-toity high school' saved his life, and carries a passion to bring the same chance to others through school vouchers. His second passion: video games

Derrell Bradford

Title: Executive director, Excellent Education for Everyone (E3)

Age: 36

Credit: NJ Spotlight
Derrell Bradford is a passionate advocate for private school vouchers.
Why he’s a player: For much of the past decade, E3 has been the main organizational force behind efforts to bring private school vouchers to New Jersey, a prospect looking closer than ever through the Opportunity Scholarship Act progressing through the legislature. As E3’s deputy and now executive director, Bradford is increasingly the voice and the face of E3.

A long path from southwest Baltimore: A scholarship landed him at the prestigious St. Paul’s School in Baltimore, that helped him into University of Pennsylvania, where he became friends with the daughter of Peter Denton, the man and the money behind E3. “I went to this hoity-toity high school and it saved my life. All I want is other people to have the same opportunity as me.”

Guess the party: “I’m a Democrat, I voted for Obama, and it’s been torturous and frustrating to have to work through the Democratic half of the equation. But if you want to make change meaningful and not even more divisive, it takes as long as it takes.”

Technophile at work: E3 has a new website design in place, more than 1,000 Facebook friends, an email list of 4,500 and “school choice is a cool choice” TV ads soon to run on VH1 and elsewhere. “This whole thing has to get younger, be about what young people can do for themselves.”

Technophile at play: He built his own PC last year. A big video gamer, his personal favorite—at least for the time being—is Mass Effect 2.

Lessons learned: “How difficult it is to make a small idea big in everyone’s mind, how difficult it is to nudge large institutions in a different direction, let alone turn them around.”

Hometown: A longtime New Yorker, he moved to Jersey City this spring.