In 2008, Rachel Canter co-founded Mississippi First with her childhood friend and fellow-Mississippian, Sanford Johnson. Mississippi First is a nonprofit organization that wants more for Mississippi kids.

Rachel and Sanford started Mississippi First because Mississippi needed a policy organization dedicated to championing transformative policy solutions ensuring educational excellence for every Mississippi child.


Mississippi is last in educational achievement

  • But, we are first in the teen birth rate.

We are last to access to healthcare per capita

  • But, we are first in obesity.

Mississippi is last in the number of adults with a high school diploma

  • But, we are first in the number of people incarcerated.

We are last in median household income

  • But, we are first in the number of children living in poverty.

Mississippi is last in life expectancy

  • But, we are first in infant mortality.

We are last when we should be first, and we are first when we should be last. We envision a Mississippi first in educational excellence. For over a decade, we have been a leading voice for state-funded pre-K, high-quality public charter schools, rigorous state learning standards, and commonsense testing policies. This past year, we launched our newest work, teacher pipeline research. Join us as we advocate for the best educational policies that will make Mississippi first.

Join us in making Mississippi First.