The Drexel Fund’s Founders Program

The Drexel Fund seeks aspiring founders of new schools who are interested in gaining access to the supports necessary to take an inspired dream for a new, sustainable, high performing private school model that will grow into a network of schools from possibility to reality.

We believe that there are not enough private schools serving low-income students, and we know that there are entrepreneurial leaders that should be supported to launch private schools in high-need communities. Thus, we have created The Drexel Fund Founders Program: a one-year fellowship that helps outstanding leaders plan and open an innovative and effective private schools.

Drexel Fund founders are driven to open one of two kinds of private schools that serve low-income students:

  • faith-based schools 
  • other innovative private school models

Drexel Fund founders want to open schools that are academically rigorous, financially sustainable, and help students develop strong character.

Photo courtesy of the Alliance for Catholic Education.

Drexel Fund founders commit to working alongside The Drexel Fund to complete a one year fellowship that will support personal leadership development while solidifying the new school plan, design, and launch. Through the fellowship, the Founders develop a plan for the school’s education model, character development, community and parent engagement, and sustainable funding (most likely through public vouchers or public scholarship programs). Drexel Fund founders will open schools that will eventually be sustainable on less than 15% philanthropy and that can be developed into strong school networks.

Currently, The Drexel Fund’s target states include Arizona, Florida, Indiana, Louisiana, Ohio and Wisconsin, which have robust programs of public funding for students to attend private schools. School leaders that are able to build a financially sustainable model in another state may also apply.

Following a rigorous selection process, investments from The Drexel Fund may include:

Through The Drexel Fund’s Founders Program, educational entrepreneurs participate in a fellowship that allows you to concretize the academic, strategic and financial plan at the heart of your school design. This planning process will deliver a roadmap for the manner in which the school will achieve top-tier results for children, while maintaining a sustainable financial model.

Serious candidates for the Founders Program will possess a high-level understanding of their vision for a new school. Drexel’s design and planning supports will deepen your capacity to concretize that vision. The Drexel Founders Program will provide resources you will budget to maximize your growth as a founding school leader, which could include training in partnership with successful national programs, residency or shadowing of high performing school models, and support from experts in the practical components of founding and leading a school.

Following Drexel’s approval of the academic, strategic and business plan for your first school, you will be eligible to receive a school start-up investment to see the plan realized. Start-up funding is intended to put the school on the path to sustainability, recognizing that the early years of a school launch will likely require philanthropic support.

Our school launch supports are intended to meet your specific needs in the actual running of your school. To that end, the Drexel Founders Program will offer structured leadership coaching in the first two operational years of the school, so that you remain both faithful and nimble in the pursuit of your vision.

When your school has secured a strong foothold in both academics and organizational viability – typically after year three or four – you will be eligible to receive funds to assist in the build out of a high-quality network of private schools, modeled on the successes of the original campus. For more on Drexel’s replication fund, see Schools & Networks.