Caprice Young is the president and CEO of KC Distance Learning and was formerly vice president of business development and alliances of Knowledge Universe. Prior to joining KU in September 2008, Caprice was president and CEO of the California Charter Schools Association. From 1999–2003, Caprice served as a member and president of the Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education. She serves on numerous boards, including the Governor’s Advisory Committee on Education Excellence, the Chime Institute, and the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools. She is a recipient of the Coro Foundation Crystal Eagle Award for Achievement in Public Service. Caprice earned her bachelor’s degree from Yale University, her master’s in public administration from the University of Southern California, and her doctorate in education from the University of California, Los Angeles.
SM: Caprice, first let’s talk about your background. Where are you from?
CY: I am a sixth-generation Californian. I was raised in a foster family where my parents were the foster parents and I was one of the biological kids in the family. I have one biological brother and three adopted siblings; two sisters and a brother. My parents had 24 foster children between the time I was born and the time I went off to college. They have since had more than a dozen children pass through their home. It was a pretty exciting way to grow up.
SM: Was their legacy to educate children from different families?
CY: My mom and dad really believe that you have to save the world one person at a time. They have taken it as their personal mission to give every child that comes into their lives an example of a loving home. They all get to experience a family that works. My dad was a juvenile probation officer and later became a Unitarian minister. My mom is a special education teacher. We had the perfect foster family. Social workers always called my family first because it was a perfect place for a kid.
I grew up in a household with kids from all kinds of different ethnicities, backgrounds, and languages. My brothers and sisters also had difficult experiences with the educational system. That has followed me into adulthood.
SM: What is your college background?
CY: I went to Yale as a history major. I then worked with high-risk inner-city kids in southeast Los Angeles. Afterwards I went to work for the Los Angeles County transportation commission. I eventually became the acting budget director. While I was doing that I got my master’s in public administration. I then became deputy assistant mayor for Dick Riordan when he became mayor. I handled technology and budget for him.
I left for a short while to work for IBM when the mayorcalled me and asked me to run for the school board. At the time I was a volunteer chair of Hoolygrove, a home for neglected kids. I was very angry about the state of public education in Los Angeles, so I ran and was elected. I served for four years. During those four years I held a series of tech jobs before going to a startup called PeopleLink that built online communities, which we now call social networking. I then went to work as a director of development for UCLA’s business school.
I lost the next election, so I started California Charter Schools Association. When I started it there were about 400 charter schools in California, and when I left there were 750. Today there are over 800. I am now focusing on providing online education to children across the country.