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RIDGELAND, Miss. – A new initiative will help educational entrepreneurs start new schools in Mississippi.

Today, Empower Mississippi launched Embark, which will assist school founders in starting charter and private schools.

“Our charter sector desperately needs a jump-start,” said Grant Callen, CEO of Empower. “It’s been eight years since the legislature passed enabling legislation and Mississippi only has seven charter schools to show for it. Additionally, since the start of the pandemic, families have shown increasing interest in small, flexible, more individualized options like private microschools. We are launching Embark to find promising new school founders, guide them through the start-up process, and invest in the most promising school ideals. Embark aims to double the number of charter schools by 2025 and accelerate the growth of private microschools along the way.”

The initiative is run by Elyse Marcellino, who previously served as Vice President of Education for Empower. Prior to that, Elyse helped launch Atlanta Classical Academy, a charter school in Georgia, where she taught for three years.

“I’m excited to work with people who want to start new schools in Mississippi and have a passion for offering students a great education,” Marcellino said. “As a local partner with a vision for improving the education landscape, Embark is uniquely suited to come alongside prospective school founders to help them develop their ideas and launch successfully. Starting a new school can be daunting, and Embark is here to walk alongside school founders and shorten the distance between idea and doors open.”

Elyse received her Bachelor of Arts degree from Belhaven University in 2008 and her Master’s degree in Education Policy and Management from Harvard University in 2014. She is also an alumna of the John Jay Institute in Philadelphia, PA. Elyse grew up in Laurel.

Learn more at is an online news source serving Simpson and surrounding counties as well as the State of Mississippi.


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