The Application
The Drexel Fund is no longer accepting applications for the 2017-18 Founders Program. Please visit our site later this summer regarding the application timeline for the 2018-19 Founders Program.

Framing Your Vision for a Transformational School

The application process for starting a new school with support from the Drexel Fund is designed to assess your readiness to embark on an immense challenge: the founding of a new, sustainable private school for underserved students that will ultimately be replicated into a network of schools. With stakes this high – nothing short of an exceptional vision translated into an exceptional school – our application process focuses on what makes you uniquely qualified to found a new school.

The Drexel Fund does not expect candidates to have a fully formed proposal (replete with academic, strategic and business plans) at the start of the application process. It is our hope, however, that the totality of the process – from the self-study to the planning grant to the final selection – will give successful applicants the opportunity to concretize their vision for a school, as each stage is purposefully graduated in rigor and detail.

The Self Study

Founding a new, sustainable private school is not limited to individuals or teams who meet one particular type of professional profile.

In the self-study, you will gain an insight into the diverse backgrounds that describe successful school founder candidates. The self-study is intentionally anonymous, so as to give you the opportunity to discern whether or not this is the right path for you.

Initial Application

The initial application is an opportunity to frame your school’s founding principles – in mission and design – that will serve to guide the school’s creation and operation. The goal, at this stage, is not a comprehensive description of those founding principles. Instead, through a series of short answer responses and multiple choice questions, candidates will provide a basic description of why your school will achieve exceptional results for children; the how will come later in the application and selection process.

Additionally, the initial application is a first measure of leadership capacity, allowing you to evidence what in your background gives you the informed belief that you can found a transformational school. The leadership capacity requirement can be met by an individual founder, an identified founding team or a sponsoring organization; the initial application allows you to denote the path that you or your team are seeking.

It bears noting that the Drexel Fund does not preference sponsoring organizations, founding teams or individual founders, one over the other. Instead, we preference applicants who take a good, honest look at what they know and do not know, and then lead accordingly. To that end, please be mindful of the following:

  • If you are applying as an individual applicant, you will be asked to answer specific questions about your background and, at the conclusion of the initial application, to upload your resume.
  • If you are applying as the lead applicant of a founding team, you will be asked to answer specific questions about each member of your founding team and, at the conclusion of the initial application, to upload the resumes of each of your team members.
  • If you are applying as the designated representative of a sponsoring organization (religious order, non-profit, etc.), you will be asked questions about your organization and its interest in founding a new private school that will grow into a network of schools. Additionally, you will asked to upload a 1-page letter of support, from the appropriate leadership of your organization, which articulates the organization’s interest in developing such a school network.

The Video Interview

Strong founding principles and strong professional backgrounds of founders are baseline ingredients to the launch of a new high-performing school. And yet, the actual voice and presence of the founders – how they present, project, explain and respond – matters much more than what is found on paper. The video interview is our first measure of the leadership presence within selected applicants.

In the video interview, selected applicants respond – with the camera rolling – to a series of staged questions. Some are fact patterns taken from scenarios common to the founding of new schools, while others dig deeper into your interest in starting a school. The Drexel Fund is most interested in 1) how you analyze the question, and 2) how convincingly you present that analysis. To that end, please be mindful of the following:

  • If you are applying as an individual applicant, you will be responsible for completing the entire video interview without assistance.
  • If you are applying as the lead applicant of a founding team, you will be responsible for answering the majority of questions. However, near the conclusion of the video interview, the additional members of your founding team will be called upon to participate, and therefore, must be in attendance.
  • If you are applying as the designated representative of a sponsoring organization, you will be contacted by the Drexel Fund in lieu of a video interview.

Phone Interviews

With a solid preliminary plan from the initial application and with a successful demonstration of presence in the video interview, selected applicants will then take part in phone interviews with senior members of the Drexel Fund investment team. You will be asked to delve into the context for your vision for a new school – why this model, why this market, why you as founder. The intent of these conversations is to flesh out further your aspirations as a founder, as well as to gauge your readiness to execute on those aspirations.

In-Person Interview

Each phase of the application process has focused – with growing intensity - on your capacity to lead and on the principles that will be the foundation for your school; the last phase is no departure. The in-person interview is a final test of capacity and principles, in which an individual applicant (or applicant teams/sponsoring organizations) will participate in a half-day in-person interview with the senior leadership of the Drexel Fund. Applicants, in most circumstances, will receive notification within two weeks of the in-person interview as to whether or not they have been selected for The Drexel Fund's Founders Program.
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Start the groundbreaking work of leading a new, sustainable private school through the Drexel Fund today.

Photo courtesy of Cristo Rey Network.