June 2017 Honoree
United Way of Buffalo & Erie County, director of education
Charter School of Inquiry, co-founder
Melodie Baker is the director of education at the United Way of Buffalo & Erie County, where she designs, implements and secures funding for evidence-based education programs. In 2014, she co-founded the Charter School of Inquiry, where she is also chair of community engagement and a member of the board of trustees.
When she was assistant director at Bethel Head Start, Melodie and Read to Succeed executive director Helene Kramer received a grant to implement early reading skills for Head Start children ages 2 to 5. The children, who started the program about 5 months below their developmental age, were 5 months ahead in reading after the program.
Melodie and Helene, along with two other people, founded the K-6th grade, Charter School of Inquiry, to take children from this disadvantaged background, build on early reading skills, and have them reading well through the third grade critical milestone. The school received enthusiastic backing from both the Buffalo Public Schools board and New York State.
Melodie earned a bachelor’s degree in public relations from SUNY Buffalo State in 2005 and got her master’s degree in executive leadership in 2008. She also recently received the Buffalo Niagara Partnership’s Athena Young Professional Leadership Award.
Melodie and her husband, who is the principal at a Buffalo school, have five children (ages 8 to 18).