Booker Promise Foundation Team
Earl Young, President/CEO
Leading the Booker Promise Foundation as President & CEO, Earl Young is a proven advocate for educational empowerment. With a philanthropic career that spans over 15 years, he began as an AmeriCorps volunteer in the VISTA program. Through that opportunity, he gained essential leadership skills and practical experience, helping local organizations build capacity in fields related to poverty, public health, homelessness, and education. This experience set him on a lifelong path to provide students with the essential tools and resources for both academic and lifelong achievement.
Before stepping into his current role with the Booker Promise Foundation, Earl gained valuable experience serving in key roles with various nonprofit organizations and local foundations. As a key member of numerous initiatives and community investment programs, he has supported and improved education across the entire learning continuum. His decade at the Community Foundation of Sarasota County is particularly noteworthy. There, his donor-focused approach significantly boosted funding, while his expertise in program management redefined their scholarship program. Earl’s leadership has redefined educational programs, ensured the effective allocation of millions, and established new standards for student success.
A Finance graduate from the University of South Florida, Earl has been a Sarasota resident for over two decades. Outside his career, he’s a committed husband and father, valuing family time and imparting the principles of community service and generosity to his children.
Dr. Rachel Shelley, Booker High School Principal
With over 34 years of experience in education, Dr. Rachel Shelley has devoted her life to empowering each student to reach their fullest potential. Having grown up in Sarasota’s low-income housing, she understands the challenges her students face firsthand. Graduating from a local high school and earning both her master’s and doctorate degrees, Dr. Shelley embarked on her teaching career in Sarasota County Schools back in 1989, eventually assuming the role of principal at Booker High School in 2011.
Dr. Shelley’s own life experiences have deeply influenced her educational philosophy. She passionately believes in the transformative power of education and its ability to shape individuals’ lives. Recognizing the parallels between her own journey and those of her 1,300 students, she is dedicated to ensuring each student recognizes their potential beyond just obtaining a high school diploma. Through relentless efforts, Dr. Shelley and her staff tirelessly work to instill in every student the belief that they are capable of achieving even greater heights, encouraging them to develop post-secondary plans that open doors to a bright future.
Her outstanding contributions as a principal and leading educator have garnered well-deserved recognition. Dr. Shelley’s exceptional leadership earned her the prestigious key to the city of Sarasota, along with accolades such as the 2019 Florida Arts Education Principal of the Year, the 2018 Florida Association of Secondary School Principals Principal of the Year, and the 2017 Florida Principal of the Year. These honors are a testament to her unwavering commitment to educational excellence and her unwavering dedication to the success and well-being of her students.
Dr. Rachel Shelley’s extraordinary career and tireless efforts have left an indelible mark on the educational landscape. Her unwavering belief in the potential of every student and her relentless pursuit of educational excellence are truly commendable, making her a true inspiration and role model for both her students and colleagues alike.