ECS Honors Angela Jerabek with 2024 James Bryant Conant Award

Angela joins former BARR students and performers to commemorate BARR’s 25th Anniversary at the 2024 BARR National Conference in Rancho Mirage.

The BARR Center is pleased to announce that our Founder & Executive Director, Angela Jerabek, is awarded the 2024 James Bryant Conant Award by the Education Commission of the States (ECS) in recognition of her decades-long commitment to evidence-based success for students across the country.

The Education Commission of the States (ECS) is a nonprofit organization that is composed of education leaders from each state, territory, and the District of Columbia including the governor, the head of the state education agency, and other legislative and education officials.

Each year at the National Forum on Education Policy, ECS presents awards to individuals, states and organizations that have made significant contributions to public education. The James Bryant Conant Award is given to one person each year who has had an outstanding contribution to the field of education.

The James Bryant Conant Award, named after the co-founder of the Education Commission of the States (ECS) and former president of Harvard University, recognizes outstanding individual contributions to American education. The award was established in 1977 to memorialize Conant, a pivotal figure in the education reforms of the 1950s and ‘60s that continue to shape schools today. The honor is bestowed upon individuals whose efforts and service create a pronounced and lasting influence on American education and have demonstrated a commitment to improving education across the country in significant ways, such as:

  • Providing leadership on groundbreaking task forces or committees.
  • Publishing works and/or conducted research that profoundly influenced thinking on public education in the United States and/or had a substantial impact on policy.
  • Shepherding groundbreaking education reform through the legislative process.
  • Demonstrating exemplary service as a public figure or elected official deeply involved in improving education for all.

A nominator said, “Choosing programs that are rooted in relationships and evidence is critically important because that’s our promise to students and their families. I have strongly encouraged school leaders … [and] other states to get behind BARR, specifically because of its evidence.”

In receiving this coveted award, Angela Jerabek joins the ranks of education greats such as U.S. Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, children’s television icon Fred Rogers, Dr. Linda Darling-Hammond, to name a few.

“I accept this award on behalf of the teachers, administrators, district leaders, researchers, coaches, and trainers who have walked beside me over the last three decades as we worked to better serve students – through the power of relationships and data,” Angela shares.

Click to read more about the Education Commission of the States’ official announcement of awardees.



Angela Jerabek developed BARR in 1999 as a result of her experience as a school counselor in a first ring suburb of Minneapolis, Minnesota. In response to the school’s high failure rate, in 1998 Angela designed and implemented methods, which she named BARR (Building Assets, Reducing Risks), to improve student and staff outcomes. The ninth-grade failure rate fell from 47 percent to 28 percent in a single year, and continued to fall over subsequent years, to less than 20 percent.

Angela continued to develop and refine the BARR model to serve students and staff K-12. In 2010, the U.S. Department of Education’s Investing in Innovation (i3) program provided Angela with three grants: innovation, development, and scale-up to conduct randomized controlled trials involving 78 schools over a period of ten years. The results were evaluated by the American Institutes for Research (AIR). These evaluations found that BARR achieved statistically significant outcomes in 20 areas, including increased whole child skills, fewer risk behaviors, more credits earned, and higher achievement test scores for students, as well as higher levels of collaboration, use of data, and self-efficacy for teachers.