Raj Vinnakota is the seventh president of the Woodrow Wilson Foundation. Prior to joining the Foundation in July 2019, Vinnakota served as the Executive Vice President of the Youth & Engagement division at the Aspen Institute, a new venture focusing on youth leadership development, civic engagement, and opportunity. Before work at the Aspen Institute, he was the co-founder and CEO of The SEED Foundation, the nation’s first network of public, college-preparatory boarding schools for underserved children. Vinnakota remains on the board of The SEED Foundation.
A graduate and former trustee of Princeton University, Vinnakota has dedicated his career to educating, empowering, and supporting America’s youth, particularly those from disadvantaged communities. His work as a social entrepreneur and non-profit leader has earned him fellowships from Echoing Green, The Ashoka Foundation and the Aspen Institute, as well as awards such as Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson Award, Harvard University’s Innovation in American Government Award, and Oprah Winfrey’s Use Your Life award.
Vinnakota is currently leading a project with a group of institutional funders, including the Hewlett Foundation, the Koch Institute, and Bloomberg Foundation to (a) map the general civic education space, (b) provide a high-level synthesis of the knowledge and research base on which the field depends, and (c) identify and describes the major constellations of organizations and work, to include some assessment of the diversity of actors in the space. A mapping of funding streams and analysis of philanthropic effort through interviews with foundation officials seeks to help the field in assessing its overall capacity to grow and generate impact.