New Fellowship Program Announced to Support Education Sector’s COVID-19 Response

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Education Pioneers to provide essential capacity for districts and schools as they address pandemic-related challenges

“Schools need management capacity to respond to this crisis and create a better future for students,” says Melissa Wu, CEO, Education Pioneers. “Our purpose is to mobilize a diverse network of leaders to address education’s challenges—and recruiting talent to address COVID in schools is critical.”

Education Pioneers (EP), a national nonprofit that builds the leadership and management capacity of the K-12 public education sector, announced today a new program to support the education sector’s response to the ongoing challenges posed by COVID-19. The EP COVID Response Fellowship will place talented education professionals with school districts, charter school networks, and state education agencies where they’ll provide chief of staff-type support to senior education administrative leaders managing COVID plans and priorities.

As the 2020-2021 academic year begins, school systems are facing unprecedented challenges related to community safety, student learning, and finance and operations. Eighty-five percent of the 20 largest U.S. school districts are starting with remote-only models, and studies project existing achievement gaps will widen by another 15-20% in the coming year.

“School districts and charter school networks need more management capacity to respond to this crisis and identify ways we can create a better future for students and communities,” says Melissa Wu, CEO of Education Pioneers. “Education Pioneers’ purpose is to mobilize a diverse network of leaders who bring the capacity needed to address education’s most pressing challenges — and recruiting talent to address COVID-19 in our school systems is critical work in today’s context.”

Partner school districts, charter school networks, and state education agencies will receive COVID Response Fellowship capacity at no cost to themselves. Education Pioneers will recruit and pay COVID Response Fellows directly, matching them with a 12-month placement directly at the partner organization. Fellows will bring deep management and execution skills, have an orientation towards equity and inclusion, and possess an ability to strategically organize priorities to ensure leadership teams are able to tackle the most urgent and essential issues with their limited time.

“To successfully serve our students, teachers, and communities, we need additional capacity to urgently address the acute challenges created by COVID-19, while also seizing this opportunity to solve larger structural issues in education,” says Brittany Monda, Assistant Superintendent of Charter Schools at Shelby County Schools in Memphis, Tennessee. “Given these unprecedented times, we appreciate the swift response of Education Pioneers to meet this moment and support organizations, such as ours, who need to add capacity to our team.”

Education Pioneers has more than 15 years of experience recruiting and developing talent for the education sector, with more than 4,500 Alumni across the nation. The COVID Response Fellowship is adapted from Education Pioneers’ signature program models, with a more specific focus on the pandemic and more senior talent profile.

In addition to their work placements, COVID Response Fellows will participate in a national cohort, providing leadership development and knowledge-sharing opportunities among a group of peers doing similar work.

“Navigating through ambiguity is remarkably hard, and managing through this COVID crisis is the leadership challenge of my career, to date,” says Andrew Solomon, 2014 EP Alumnus and CFO, Excel Academy Charter School in Boston. “The training and support I received from Education Pioneers made a huge difference and gave me the foundation for how I respond to this crisis in ways I couldn’t have expected. Education Pioneers has seeded the sector with talented people, and the sector benefits from it immensely, especially during these moments requiring thoughtful and inclusive leadership.”

Schools, districts, and state agency employees interested in exploring a partnership can learn more at http://www.educationpioneers.org/COVID. Education professionals searching for a new opportunity are invited to learn more and apply before August 31 for the cohort beginning in October. Education champions interested in investment opportunities are encouraged to reach out to Terrence Kneisel, Vice President of External Relations at Education Pioneers (terrence.kneisel@educationpioneers.org).

About Education Pioneers

Education Pioneers builds the pipeline of leaders outside the classroom who enable teachers and students to be successful inside the classroom. Since 2003, Education Pioneers has recruited and trained over 4,500 leaders in partnership with more than 900 education organizations nationwide.

Of the organization’s Alumni in the workforce, more than 70% serve in education and lead or contribute to work that impacts public school students in major cities across the nation, most of whom are students of color and growing up in underserved areas. Learn more: http://www.educationpioneers.org/our-impact.

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Terrence Kneisel
@edpioneers
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