The Drexel Fund seeks visionary founders who are interested in gaining access to the supports necessary to take an inspired dream for a new, sustainable, replicable high-performing private school model from possibility to reality.

The Drexel Fund believes that there are not enough private schools serving low-income students, and we know that there are entrepreneurial leaders who should be supported in launching private schools in high-need communities. Thus, we have created The Drexel Fund Founders Program: a one-year fellowship that helps outstanding leaders already on the path to launching a school continue to plan and open an innovative and effective private school in one of The Drexel Fund’s target states: Florida, Wisconsin, Indiana, Ohio, and Louisiana.

Drexel Fund Fellows want to open schools that have a student body that is at least a third low-income, are academically rigorous and financially sustainable, and help students develop strong character. Drexel Fund Fellows have a strong rationale for opening a private school, either because their school is faith-based, or the school features an innovative approach that requires the autonomy of a private school.

Photo courtesy of The Good Shepherd School.

Drexel Fund Fellows commit to working alongside The Drexel Fund to complete a one year fellowship that will support their efforts to solidify the critical components needed to launch a new school. Through the fellowship, school founders develop their school’s education model and engage in the nuts and bolts of their school launch, including board and budget development, market analysis, facility location, student recruitment and staff hiring. Drexel Fund Fellows will open schools that are replicable models that can be sustained operationally on less than 15 percent philanthropy.


The Founders Program is designed for entrepreneurs who will be ready to launch a new private school at the end of the program year. If you are interested in replicating a current school, or are too early in your concept development to be ready for our Founders Program, please get in touch with us and describe your project here so that we can follow up regarding your specific situation.

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.

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