Our Mission & Staff
"Dedicated to providing compassionate and holistic prenatal care, women's health services and a safe alternative to hospital birth for women and their families."
"Empowering care for every woman. Midwifery care for every mother."
Dar a Luz Birth & Health Center believes:
- In empowering women.
- Education is the foundation that is essential to optimal healthcare. We will freely exchange knowledge, offer a variety of educational classes and encourage women to make their own informed decisions about their life including: their healthcare, contraception, childbirth and motherhood.
- The proper utilization of current research and technology is valuable in providing the best possible care.
- Birth is a normal, healthy and powerful life event for a woman and her family. The duty of the caregiver is to trust a woman's capability to birth her baby, provide a safe and individualized birthing atmosphere free of unnecessary interventions, and recognize and manage deviations from the normal birth process with appropriate and safe interventions.
- Breastfeeding is the best option for women and babies. We encourage and support breastfeeding for all infants.
- Family is defined by the individual. We encourage the participation of family members in a client's healthcare, pregnancy and/or childbirth.
- Educating the general public about midwifery, natural birth, out-of-hospital birth, breastfeeding and holistic healthcare is worthwhile.
- In being a learning center for student healthcare providers such as nurses, midwives and physicians, and teaching the art of providing care in a respectful, considerate manner.
- In striving to be an environmentally conscientious organization, minimizing our environmental impact and encouraging others to do the same.
- In respecting and honoring all individuals regardless of age, race, ethnicity, religion/philosophy, sexual orientation, ability, gender expression, socio-economic status or any other personal characteristic.
- Women have the right to quality healthcare and the unique services offered at a birth center regardless of the ability to pay. We strive to serve underserved populations of women including the uninsured, underinsured and other marginalized peoples through the help of various grants and private donations.
- Compassionate care for women throughout their lifecycles, especially during childbirth, has a substantial and beneficial effect on the family and therefore society as a whole.
Meet our midwives:
Abigail Lanin Eaves CNM, MSN: Executive Director & Founder
I was born and raised in Albuquerque and attended the Albuquerque Academy. I went on to UNM and received both of my nursing degrees — a Bachelor's in 2000 and Master's with a concentration in nurse-midwifery in 2002. I knew from a very young age that being part of natural childbirth was my calling and I realized that I was to be a midwife by the time I was 16 years old. The path has been difficult and long, but midwifery is my passion, my life's work and worth every minute that it took to get here!
Birth is one of the most important moments in a woman's life and I believe the caregiver, whoever the birth attendant may be, should nurture and empower a woman in that moment. I am passionate about all women receiving care that strengthens them as individuals and gives them the power to make informed health decisions about their own care, as well as their family's care. I attended deliveries at Lovelace Women's Hospital from January 2004 through July 2009, but have always had a desire to attend women in a birth center. I fiercely believe that women need as many options as possible to birth their babies, and the birth center option has been missing too long and is greatly needed in our community.
My husband and I have three boys. My family gives me infinite joy and ongoing strength as I continue to work on growing this incredible organization. I am privileged to have a family that believes in my path and supports my every step. We currently live in Corrales and have a house full of dogs and cats, smiles and laughter.
Melanie Yanke, CNM, MSN: Clinical Director
I grew up on a farm in the Texas Panhandle and spent most of my life there. In 1979, I finished my nursing degree and taught childbirth classes and worked in labor and delivery for a while until I took time off to raise my family. Kids, farming and working in landscape design in Texas and California occupied my time until I moved to Albuquerque in 2006. You know how life happens in mysterious ways? Well, I found my passion rekindled for nursing after being in Thailand during the Tsunami and helping in New Orleans after Katrina. I got my Master’s Degree in nurse midwifery at UNM in 2008. Much of my research involved out-of-hospital birth and how to provide a supportive birthing environment.
Before joining the birth center, I trained at the Tucson Birth Center and worked for over 2 years at a UNM clinic, but my real dream since graduation had been to help start this birth center. I am convinced that for the majority of healthy women, the birth center is a very safe and supportive place to give birth.
I feel grateful to have experienced a life full of challenges and learned great life lessons that I use to help women though their own experiences. I am passionate about being with women through pregnancy and birth and strive to guide them to find their own power and strength to meet their own personal challenges and be great women.
Many describe me as a woman with many talents. My other interests include gardening, landscaping, sculpture, hiking and biking. I love plants of all kinds and especially orchids. You may notice the landscaping around the birth center, which is my creative work in progress and helps me achieve a more perfect balance in my life. I look forward to getting to know you and sharing in your birth and life experiences.
Susan Moore Daniels, CNM, MSN
I was raised in Albuquerque and decided I wanted to become a midwife during a Renaissance assignment in a high school English class, although my pursuits then were in theatre and music. Stumbling across a reference to midwives, I became enchanted by the topic. The things I learned changed the course of my life and have provided an extraordinary path to pursue many passions. I received my undergraduate degree in 1983 from UNM after studying a number of things, but ultimately majoring in nursing and minoring in psychology. I worked in a local birth center as a midwife’s assistant while building my resume for graduate school, and caught my first baby there when I was only 21 years old. I attended midwifery school at Yale University where I received my Master’s Degree in 1988.
When I moved to the east coast to go to midwifery school, I never expected to move back to New Mexico. Yet during my training I learned what a progressive place New Mexico was regarding women’s access to birthing options and midwifery care. I returned to Albuquerque where I have attended more than 2700 births over 25 years, mostly in hospitals, but covering the spectrum including some home births, and many water births in various birthing locations. New Mexico has the highest rates of midwifery-attended births in the U.S., and I am proud of my influence over the years of my career in building this success.
For me, midwifery is a rather perfect blending of the artistic with the natural sciences. It has proven to be a career in which I have the opportunity to do many things I love, in service to amazing women finding strength, courage, and creativity they never knew they had. My professional interests and passions attend to the psychological and quite remarkable transformations women face through pregnancy, motherhood, and other brave and ingenious feminine acts. My hobbies and personal interests include a strong involvement in many aspects of community arts, a love of astronomy, and studies in clinical musicianship.
I have been married a really long time to the same wonderful man. We have two daughters who were born at home, they were breastfed long through toddlerhood, cloth-diapered, homeschooled, and are now successful young women off in college.
Yelena Baras, CNM, MSN
I was born in Samara, Russia and immigrated to Philadelphia, PA, with my immediate family when I was 4 years old. I became interested in the sciences at a very young age; I spent my childhood exploring the natural world. I always knew that I wanted to work with women, to be an advocate for reproductive rights and contraceptive choices.
After college I worked as a research assistant to a renowned expert in infertility and reproductive endocrinology. I became fascinated with the reproductive system, placentas, uterine microbiomes and epigenetics. In 2012, I was accepted to and began the Accelerated Nursing Program at the University of Pennsylvania, where I completed my RN-BSN and a combined MSN in Midwifery and Women’s Health. During the program, I had the opportunity to be mentored by midwives in homebirth, birth center, and hospital settings. I cared for low-risk women in inner-city as well as rural communities, in addition to collaborating with physician colleagues on higher-risk clients. For my final integration clinical, I worked full-time at the oldest freestanding birth center in Los Angeles, CA.
I am excited to be part of the family at Dar a Luz. I come from a background of wellness nursing, and I am interested in supporting our clients in making positive and informed healthcare decisions. I am committed to learning ways to support safe and empowered birth in the out-of-hospital setting.
For the past ten years I have been studying several types of yoga, including Vinyasa and Acroyoga. I belong to the Shambhala Center and practice meditation both in individual and group settings. I enjoy spending my weekends on hikes and camping. I also have many-a-succulent plant that I brought all the way from Philadelphia to Albuquerque.
Sarah Weinstein, MN, CNM
Midwifery is special work, and we all find our path to it in a different way. I feel so grateful that my journey has brought me to Dar a Luz.
I was raised in southern CA, outside of L.A., and attended the University of California, Berkeley earning my undergraduate degree in biology. I became drawn to the physiology of reproduction, fetal development, genetics and birth, and was fortunate enough to be introduced to midwifery during this time. Learning about birth through this lens was like seeing the most minute and most enormous of our biology at once. For me, that experience was the answer to a big question, and I began taking steps to prepare for midwifery school.
I trained with the midwives at Oregon Health and Science University where I earned my bachelor's and master's degrees in nursing and midwifery. After completing training, I first worked as a midwife on the Navajo Nation, and then in a community hospital in rural New Mexico. I hold a strong belief in the empowerment that comes from supporting women through what is a normal and usually healthy part of life, and in providing wide access to this care. Attending birth is, for me, to awaken over and over again, to be reminded that what is so basic and so complex in our world is often one and the same. I feel so lucky to have found my home at Dar a Luz where we are able to serve women and families by providing access to respectful, compassionate care in a setting that encourages and supports physiologic birth. It is my honor to be present for our community in this work, and to preserve the space where one of nature's most powerful and most fundamental patterns unfolds.
When I am not working, I love to be outside, reading, and spending time with my husband Colin (who supports me endlessly) and our kitties, Honey and Sprout.
Donyelle Miller, CNM, MSN, IBCLC
My name is Donyelle Miller, but friends and family call me Donni. I am originally from Kentucky. I moved with my husband and two children to the Southwest from Minneapolis in 2011. I moved to Albuquerque in 2015 to complete my Master’s degree in midwifery. Aside from mothering my own kids, my greatest passion is advocating for health equity and supporting families to facilitate a holistic approach to pregnancy, birth, and long-term health care.
My experience working with women and their families began in my work as an Addiction Counselor. With the birth of my own daughter, I became increasingly aware of how important the birthing experience is in shaping our relationships with our children and the world we are bringing them into. Both of my children were welcomed into the world by midwives; my daughter was born in a hospital and my son was born in our home. I decided that women’s health was the area in which I wanted to be of service. I worked as a doula and as a Breast Feeding Peer Counselor with W.I.C. while I completed nursing school in Minneapolis. My first job as a nurse was at a reproductive health teen clinic in St. Paul, Minnesota. In 2011, we moved to the Navajo reservation where I had the opportunity to work as a labor and delivery, postpartum, and newborn nurse, and where I also completed training towards becoming an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC). In addition, I had the opportunity to serve as the nurse executive of the adolescent psych unit. In total, my experiences working with the women and their families on the Navajo reservation reaffirmed in me the importance of healthy families to the sustainability of healthy communities.
I find the most pleasure hanging out with my brilliant and supportive husband and two truly amazing kids. We enjoy listening to music, dancing and traveling to new places. Practicing yoga and implementing mindfulness in my daily life are other ways I have found to keep me grounded. Since first moving to the region in 2011, our family has grown to love New Mexico and have decided that this is where we want to stay. I am excited and honored to have this opportunity to meet and serve the families of New Mexico at Dar a Luz.
Meet our nursing staff:
Carly Nowicki, BSN, RN: Birth Assistant
I was born and raised in the small farming community of Lemitar, New Mexico. I was fortunate to have grown up under the great influence of my mom; she always surrounded my sister and me with natural and alternative care. At a young age, I learned how powerful and strong women can be. From this began my love of women’s health and labor and delivery.
I received my BSN degree from the University of New Mexico in 2013 and completed an internship at UNMH on the Mother-Baby and OB Special Care Unit. I completed another internship at Dar a Luz, and felt I'd found my home. I feel so fortunate to be working with the amazing women at the birth center, and cannot wait to be a part of more wonderful birth stories.
Stephanie Sanchez, BSN, RN, IBCLC: Birth Assistant & International Board Certified Lactation Consultant
A true New Mexico girl, I was born and raised in Northern NM, then moved south to attend New Mexico State University where I first earned a bachelor’s degree in agricultural biology. While I found this area of study fascinating, I felt compelled to medicine and working with people, thus went on to earn my bachelor’s in nursing in 2007. Women’s health has been my passion from the start, and all of my work experience has been in labor and delivery and outpatient OB/GYN here in Albuquerque.
My loving husband and I have two sweet little girls, both of whom I was fortunate enough to deliver gracefully in the water with the care of an amazing midwife. My second was born here at Dar a Luz and I have been in love with this place ever since! These beautiful birth experiences have had a huge impact on me not only as a patient and a mother, but also as a nurse. I strive to help more women have the birth experience they want and deserve. I am also very passionate about breastfeeding, and all of the benefits and challenges that go with it, and earned my IBCLC certification in 2013.
I am thrilled to be here working with this wonderful group of people supporting the women in our community, their health, and their families.
Cherro Hamadamin, RN, BSN: Birth Assistant
I was born in Northern Iraq but have lived in Albuquerque for most of my life. I also lived in Syria for a period of time which provided me with the perfect opportunity to learn Arabic. I arrived in Albuquerque when I was ten years old with my parents and twin brother and sister. I was attending CNM for my nursing degree in 2015 when my partner and I found out that I was pregnant and found Dar a Luz.
I have always been interested in working with expectant and laboring women, but did not realize how strong my passion was for this type of nursing until my daughter’s birth at the end of 2015.
It was at that moment I knew I wanted to be part of a team that made every woman’s experience as powerful and personal as I was fortunate enough to have. I am extremely grateful that upon graduating with my Nursing degree I was given the opportunity to be part of this incredible family and community.
Jenna Montano, ADN, RN: Birth Assistant
I began my healthcare journey in high school when I found the Career Enrichment Center LPN program. It transformed my way of thinking and sculpted me into the person that I am today. I went on to receive my Associates in Nursing several years later.
I've been a nurse in several different aspects of healthcare, and spent my most recent time on a Labor and Delivery unit. My passion for Women's Health started when I was pregnant with my first son. My eyes were opened to our healthcare system in relation to birth, and I wanted to help women make informed choices. The transition to Dar a Luz has been smooth and I am happy this place found me
I have a wonderful husband, and three boys. I had two home births and my youngest here a Dar a Luz. We love to play games, spend time with our families, and to travel the World.
I'm honored to be a part of this dynamic and powerful group of women! I hope you can be a part of it too.
Savannah Holloway, BSN, RN: Birth Assistant
I was born in Los Angeles, but I spent most of my life in the wonderful village of Corrales. I attended the Albuquerque Academy and then went on to attend the University of New Mexico. I was accepted into the College of Nursing where I graduated summa cum laude with my Bachelor of Science in Nursing.
By the age of two, I was certain about two things: I was going to be a mom and I was going to provide holistic health care to women and babies, though I’m sure I didn’t use those exact words. I am delighted to be starting my journey here at Dar a Luz. My amazing mom raised my sister and me with a holistic mindset and holistic healing from day one. I feel extremely blessed to have had, and to continue to have, her influence in my life. I strongly believe in a holistic approach to health and wellness. Our physical, emotional, and spiritual wellbeing are all intertwined, and, as such, I believe that good healthcare must encompass a person’s whole being. I fiercely believe in the power of a woman’s mind, body, and soul. I am passionate about the idea that pregnancy is not a sickness, but rather a beautiful journey, and I feel passionately that women should have the opportunity to birth their baby the way they choose.
I am married to a wonderful man who gives me confidence and encouragement to be my best self. In my free time, I enjoy spending time with my family, snuggling my adorable cat, serving at church, dancing, learning new languages, gardening, cooking, and baking. Some of my favorite things are cloudy skies, rainy days, red bell peppers, and dark chocolate ganache. I am thrilled to be part of this wonderful team here at Dar a Luz, and I am thoroughly excited to be part of many beautiful births.
Meet our Educators & Administrative staff:
Shelley Black: Director of Operations
I have been an advocate for natural birth and attachment parenting for as long as I can remember. Two natural births in hospitals convinced me that there had to be a better way to support women in labor and birth. After supporting my sister in an inspiring and beautiful midwife-attended birth, I was transformed into a cheerleader for midwives. When I found out that Abigail was starting a midwife birth center in Albuquerque, I immediately joined the cause, and served on the board of directors for three years. When Dar a Luz needed an Office Manager, I was thrilled to step into the role for a number of years. As Director of Operations, I enjoy supporting our staff and clients, as well as guiding much of the business side of our amazing and unique model of non-profit healthcare.
I graduated from the University of New Mexico and have been a both a business owner and a customer service manager in various industries from wineries to home improvement. I am also a certified hypnotherapist specializing in pregnancy and birth, and have been teaching childbirth education classes for many years. I am honored and privileged to support the birth center's business operations and to get to know all the wonderful clients who become part of the birth center family.
Tracy Cooper: Receptionist
Tracy greets everyone with a warm and friendly smile. She is dedicated to excellent customer service, and her peaceful, calm demeanor puts people around her at ease.
Tracy is a long-time advocate of natural birth. She grew up surrounded by natural births, midwives and healthcare. Her mother was a birth assistant at the Southwest Maternity Center, which was the first and only freestanding birth center in Albuquerque before Dar a Luz. Tracy's first child was born at home, as well.
Erica Deerinwater: Billing Specialist
I am a native New Mexican and completed my Psych degree from UNM in 2002. I have worked in and around medical communities almost my whole professional career, from medical filing to front office to providing technical training to nurses and doctors.
I became a stay-at-home mom in 2010 when my first child was born by cesarean. My second child was born naturally at Dar a Luz in 2011. Ever since my birth experience here, I have wanted to come back and be a part of this community and staff.
The perfect opportunity presented itself with the need for a certified professional biller and coder for the birth center. I also do insurance verification, submit prior authorizations and create client financial agreements. I enjoy helping Dar a Luz clients make the most of their insurance coverage.
I feel so very lucky and honored be part of such an amazing group of women and the birth center’s mission.
Amity McElroy: Educator for Traditional Childbirth Series, Newborns & Breastfeeding Classes
I’m blessed to be a mom to four children. I have also been working with families in the Albuquerque birth community for over 15 years. I started as a certified Birthing from Within doula, then went on to train as an ICEA childbirth educator and become certified as an infant massage instructor. I have had the opportunity to work as a doula and educator with many local family resource centers and hospitals. The amazing women who helped guide and nurture my journey through birth and motherhood are my inspiration.
My wish is that my work strengthens the connection within families and within the community during this important time of pregnancy and parenthood.
Laura Wood, CHt, BHE: Blissborn Class Instructor
I teach my Blissborn classes here at Dar a Luz, and I am so honored to support parents in this amazing life event. I grew up in New Mexico. I have three children and three very different birth experiences; one born by cesarean, one all-natural (but very long) hospital birth, and one peaceful five-hour home birth. My last experience with a midwife-attended home birth was life-changing in so many ways. I saw what birth can and should be, and it led me on a path to find a way to support other moms in finding their joy in labor and birth.
My degrees are in speech therapy and psychology, and I was a stay-at-home mom for 10 years ... before everything changed! Now I'm a certified hypnotherapist, as well as Co-Founder of the birth education program Blissborn. We worked to put together a program for savvy and involved parents, providing the best tools available in a comprehensive, fun course. Teaching Blissborn here at Dar a Luz has been wonderful -- I really enjoy the parents who share the class time with me, and teaching keeps me charged up and excited as we continue to build Blissborn and to support our other Blissborn teachers. We're growing fast worldwide, and I feel very blessed to do what I do -- I just skip around smiling most of the time!
I live in Los Ranchos with my supportive husband, our three awesome kids (one of whom is now away for college), and our two dogs.
Nancy Anthony: Certified Car Safety Instructor
I have been a NHTSA-Certified Child Passenger Safety Technician and Instructor since 2002. (NHTSA stands for National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.) I am passionate about protecting our children from one of the worst dangers in the United States – car crashes. I love to help parents select, install, and use their child’s car seat correctly. If you are unable to afford a car seat, I may be able to assist you in obtaining a new one.
I live in Sandia Park with my husband and two children, ages 10 and 1. Our daughter, Charlotte, was born at Dar a Luz in 2011. I am a huge proponent of natural, peaceful labor and birth, as I believe it can be very empowering and strengthening for women, families and society. I look forward to meeting you!
Kimberlee Boreson-Maresma, MA, LMHC: Therapist & Support Group Facilitator
I grew up in a small town in Washington state and received my BS degree in exercise physiology and nutrition with a minor study in psychology from Western Washington University. After graduating, I relocated to Maui, HI, where I worked as a health coach at a spa. Wanting to pursue my education in Ayurvedic Medicine, I relocated to Albuquerque to study with Dr. Lad. Upon completing the program, I started my own brokerage in the natural products industry, promoting health and wellness for 14 years. During that time I also felt called to further my education in counseling. I graduated from Southwestern College in Santa Fe with my MA in counseling psychology as well as a certificate in eco-psychology in 2009.
I worked for a private counseling practice from 2009 until January 2013, working with individuals of all ages, couples and groups. I have experience in working with issues of grief and loss, addiction, depression and anxiety, trauma, couples and relationships, life transitions and purpose, self-esteem, body image and health concerns. My approach integrates talk therapy with mindfulness, depth psychology, body-centered psychotherapy, dream work, coping/emotional regulation skills, rituals and art therapy.
I left the practice to take on the new role of motherhood! In February 2013, my husband Jose and I welcomed our baby girl, Priya. It has been the single most amazing, challenging and rewarding “job” in our 10-year marriage. Our wonderful experience with Dar a Luz helped in my decision to work here with the community in supporting families through all the various journeys parenthood takes us on. It is my commitment to you to help you through your personal journey with great compassion and care.
Robin Hayter, IBCLC: Lactation & Childbirth Educator
I was born and raised in Albuquerque. After high school I needed an adventure, and headed to the beaches of California, and I graduated from UC Berkeley with a B.A. in Psychology. I gave birth to my first daughter in 2007, and we welcomed our second daughter 18 months later in 2009. Having two young children so close together taught me that I had to lean on family, friends and my community. Later that same year, my husband's job took our family to Hyderabad, India, for 2.5 years.
In India, I had the fortune of volunteering with a midwife in the Healthy Mother Wellness and Care Birth Center. She taught me so much about the midwifery model. She also taught me that birth is normal and natural! Her passion was contagious, and I knew I had found my calling. Working with her, I became a Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator, and I began teaching breastfeeding classes and facilitating groups. When we returned from India in 2012, I was expecting my third child and felt so fortunate to find Abigail and Melanie at Dar a Luz to care for my pregnancy. Our third daughter Asha, was born that September.
In 2016, I became a Board-Certified Lactation Consultant. I enjoy helping women achieve their personal breastfeeding goals, and I am honored to have the opportunity to be with women in their individual transition to motherhood. It takes a village to raise a child, and I love seeing women become confident and empowered mothers.
Meet our Board of Directors:
Bogdan Pathak: Board President
Bogdan was born and raised in Albuquerque, NM. He attended the Albuquerque Academy and is a graduate of the University of Kansas with a B.A. in Biology and a M.S. in Electrical Engineering. His commitment to women’s health and birth centers has evolved out of his education, was born of being exposed at a young age to his mother’s work in family and community medicine, and is now rooted in the belief that healthy starts for mothers, babies, fathers, and families greatly enrich their communities and society at large. From this base and his experience with startups and small businesses, he is focused on using the best paradigms available to support bringing endeavors that change intrinsic aspects of our lives for the better, such as Dar a Luz, to fruition and sustainability.
Bogdan has served as a member of Dar a Luz’s board since 2010, and as President since 2015. When he is not helping with Dar a Luz, he works for a small technology development firm as a research and development engineer. His happily married to and draws inspiration from his wife, Brianne, who has a Master’s in Public Health and studies how the culture of developing and underserved communities, both international and domestic, affects and is affected by changing health care frameworks.
Javier Prada: Board Treasurer
Javier Prada was born and raised in Albuquerque, New Mexico. A graduate of NMSU with a bachelor and master’s degree in accountancy, he has over 10 years of experience as a CPA working in advisory and assurance services. His professional background has included serving a large spectrum of clients from large, international publicly traded companies to small, local not-for-profits and many companies and organizations in between. In addition to his experiences in the accounting world, he is a Return Peace Corp Volunteer who proudly served in Honduras as a small business advisor to the community of Comayagua. Javier and his wife, Sara, had both of their children at Dar a Luz; daughter Cecilia was baby #23 and son Rafael was baby #322. Javier himself was born at the Southwest Maternity Center, the only free standing birth center in Albuquerque until Dar a Luz was established. Javier and his wife are big advocates for the birth center’s place in our community.
Adrianne Lytle: Consumer Member
Adrianne Lytle is a life-long Albuquerquean who has dedicated much of her life to helping children. She has worked overseas with Operation Smile, helped to develop after-school programs for at-risk youth in Albuquerque middle schools, and is currently an educator with APS. She is also studying at UNM to go into administration and eventually complete a PhD. Additionally, Adrianne's son, Fox, was baby 237 at Dar a Luz, and she is committed to the mission of this fine institution.
Adrianne Turner: Consumer Member
Adrianne’s was introduced to Dar a Luz as a client; her youngest daughter was baby number 181 born at Dar a Luz. Adrianne is an attorney at the New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty where she leads the education team’s advocacy around improving New Mexico’s system of public education, with a focus on increasing opportunities for at-risk students.