Mississippi First is a non-partisan, nonprofit education
public policy advocacy organization.

We were founded in 2008 by Rachel Canter and her childhood friend, Sanford Johnson. Driven to change the fact that Mississippi has historically been last, our founders set a bold vision: a Mississippi first in education nationally.

Mississippi First is dedicated to advancing the best education policy ideas through the policy continuum. We follow a unique approach to inform our policy agenda.


Our Mission

Now in our second decade, Mississippi First is ready to dramatically accelerate our impact. The mission of Mississippi First is to champion transformative policy solutions, ensuring educational excellence for every Mississippi child. 

Our Vision

Mississippi First envisions a Mississippi first in prosperity, innovation, and quality of life. To accomplish this goal, our work is dedicated to increasing educational achievement and graduation rates and decreasing achievement gaps.

Our Values

Our actions and decisions are guided by our values: engagement, results, collaboration, transparency, non-partisanship, accountability, and equity.

Our Impact

Since our founding in 2008, Mississippi First has made major contributions to education in Mississippi. We’re proud of the impact we’ve been able to achieve and are constantly striving to improve Mississippi’s education system

Our Priorities

Each year we evaluate our past goals and create an updated strategic plan for the upcoming year. We have organized these goals and projects around each of our issue areas.