San Luis Obispo

Ms. Margaret Gertrude Fortune is the president and CEO of Fortune School. A highly regarded innovator in K-12 education, Ms. Fortune established a network of charter schools in California with the goals of closing the African American achievement gap and preparing children for college at an early age.

A native of Sacramento, Ms. Fortune earned her baccalaureate degree in political science from the University of California, Berkeley, where she was the first African American woman to be elected student body president. She later earned her master’s degree in public policy from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government.

Originally established as a teacher training school by her father in 1989, the Fortune School was transformed by Ms. Fortune when she dramatically improved Sacramento High School in 2003, increasing college acceptance rates there exponentially. She has since established six other tuition-free, college-preparatory, public charter schools in Sacramento and San Bernardino counties.

The Rex and Margaret Fortune Early College High School (ECHS) opened in August 2017 and features a California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo connection. ECHS is among Cal Poly’s diversity inclusion initiatives. Located in Sacramento, the school includes a dual enrollment model in partnership with the Cosumnes River College in Elk Grove. With an emphasis on STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics), students earn a high school diploma and an associate of arts degree in just four years. Ms. Fortune wants each and every student "Cal Poly-ready" when they graduate. Cal Poly faculty and staff are working directly with ECHS administrators and staff to develop the ECHS mathematics and science curriculum.

Ms. Fortune served as a trustee of the California State University from 2008 to 2016 and was recently named a trustee emerita. She sits on the Board of Directors for the California Charter Schools Association and serves on the President’s Council of Advisors at Cal Poly. Ms. Fortune is a Pahara-Aspen Fellow and has served as an education advisor to two California governors, Gray Davis and Arnold Schwarzenegger.

In recognition of her impactful role as a political advisor, leader and advocate of education reform, the Board of Trustess of the California State University and California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo are proud to confer upon Margaret Gertrude Fortune the honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters.