Case Study: National Aspiring Principals Fellowship

Our Fellowship is the focus of a case study by the Stanford Graduate School of Business. Learn how the Fellowship came to be and how we are developing transformational school leaders.
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Blog date
1/18/24
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New Leaders—and our National Aspiring Principals Fellowship—was selected as a subject for a case study by the Stanford Graduate School of Business. The case study will be featured in the course Transforming Education through Entrepreneurship.

The case study shares our journey and the strategic challenges we faced in scaling the Fellowship, navigating through the complexities of a changing educational landscape to become one of the largest principal preparation programs in the country for teachers of color. 

What is the Fellowship?

Launched in 2022, and built upon New Leaders’ original flagship program, the Fellowship prepares full-time teachers to be highly effective principals. Started as a “moonshot” or big idea, the Fellowship has now enrolled over 150 aspiring principals, with our inaugural cohort having completed the Fellowship in March 2023.

Designed in partnership with two preeminent minority-serving institutions—Morehouse College and Clark Atlanta University—the Fellowship honors the experiences and identities of educators of color and develops leaders who remove barriers to student success. As an online program, the Fellowship offers pathways to principal certification—with or without a master’s degree—in  more than states through a network of accredited college and university partners. 

How did the Fellowship begin?

To answer that, we have to go back to the beginning. New Leaders was founded in 2000 during a national principal shortage. We set out to address educational inequities by not only elevating the importance of school leadership, but by preparing and developing highly effective school principals. Our flagship Aspiring Principals program launched in cities across the nation, with our leaders serving in school systems with high-need student populations. Year over year, the number of leaders we trained continued to grow, reaching more than 2,400 leaders by 2020 with our alumni spread across 41 states, and in Washington D.C. and Puerto Rico.

Then in 2020, as you know well, everything shifted—the Covid-19 pandemic, widespread adoption of online learning, George Floyd’s murder and the Movement for Racial Justice, to name a few. We wanted—and knew—we could do more. After extensive market research and program development, we launched the Fellowship, combining the evidence base of our flagship program with equity-centered frameworks from Morehouse and Clark Atlanta into a new hybrid experience. Today, Fellows practice their leadership skills in real time, in their current role, with coursework online. Our Fellows are ready to lead from day one.

What do stakeholders say about the Fellowship?

“The Fellowship provided, created, and sustained a space where we could have like-minded people solving problems together for the future of our nation’s schools.”
Jean Hill, Fellow

“When we talk about fundamentally changing what is happening in education in our country, this is what we mean: transforming the system so that every school is led by an equity-focused principal with the highest expectations for every child.”
J. Fidel Turner, Dean, Clark Atlanta School of Education

“Our goal with the Fellowship is to create a pipeline of diverse school leaders who have high expectations, hold themselves and teachers accountable, and see the brilliance and potential of children, especially historically underserved students. It also presents an important opportunity to create a hybrid model for the broader education sector that leverages philanthropy as an accelerant to innovation and a pathway to scale and impact.”
Jean S. Desravines, CEO, New Leaders

“In the pursuit of excellence and equity in K12 education, particularly for students of color, New Leaders is a powerful ally. The impact of the aspiring principals New Leaders develops is lasting—empowering students, teachers, and school communities to not only thrive, but build a bolder, more just world.”
Julie Mikuta, Co-President, Charles and LynnSchusterman Family Philanthropies

Interested? Here are the next steps you can take. 

  1. Learn more. Read the full case study.
  2. Tap the next future leader on the shoulder. Do you know someone who would make a great principal? Talk to them: Here are a few pro tips for that conversation.
  3. Bring the Fellowship to your school system. It’s easy—here’s how.

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