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Joshua Mbanusi


West Orange, NJ

Joshua is from West Orange, N.J., and graduated from Cornell University in 2012 as a Merrill Presidential Scholar, one of the highest academic awards given by the university to recognize those who have demonstrated a significant “propensity to contribute to the betterment of society.”

A former community college student, Joshua used most of his undergraduate experience to learn about the educational and economic policies needed to combat structural barriers inhibiting families from escaping poverty. He interned at the U.S. Department of Education; the New York State Senate; and the Center for Community Self-Help, where he conducted academic performance and demographic data analysis on charter schools serving low-income communities in North Carolina.

As a senior at Cornell, Joshua developed and launched a campus-wide, one-to-one mentoring program to combat persistently low graduation rates among black males at the university. As the program’s architect, manager, and fundraiser, Joshua managed its expansion; organized bi-weekly workshops and professional development events; and raised more than $17,500 in his first year, in part from a $5,000 grant from PepsiCo. Upon graduating, Joshua joined KIPP: Gaston College Preparatory in Gaston, North Carolina, as a 2012 Teach for AmericaCorps member. There, he developed the course material and curriculum for the freshman-level social justice course and taught the course before joining MDC in 2014.

As an Autry Fellow, Joshua is excited to learn strategies for creating lasting relationships within communities in order to bring about community-driven systemic change.