Founders Program

Drexel Founders Program Fellows & Alumni

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

The Drexel Fund Founders Program is a one-year paid 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, Louisiana, Tennessee, North Carolina and Arizona. The eighth cohort of the Founders Program is designed for entrepreneurs who will begin the fellowship in Summer 2024 and be ready to launch a new private school in Fall 2025.

Through the fellowship, school founders will develop their school’s education model and finalize the nuts and bolts of their school launch, including board and budget development, market analysis, facility location, student recruitment and staff hiring. Founders will create a plan that will make it possible for their school to achieve top-tier results for children while maintaining a sustainable financial model.

The Drexel Fund wants Fellows 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.  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.

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

Following The Drexel Fund’s approval of the business plan developed during the Founders Program year, Fellows will be eligible to receive a school start-up investment to see the plan realized.

Fellowship Highlights

  • Competitive stipend package
  • Customized learning and development plan and “catalyst grant” for each Fellow
  • Ongoing learning reinforced by monthly cohort training sessions focused on readiness benchmarks for launch
  • Workshops by experts in school budget and board governance, among other topics
  • School visits to high-performing schools across the country
  • Near-term opportunity to apply for school start-up funding as well as the long-term opportunity for strategy and financial support as the school replicates 

Fellow Qualifications

A Drexel Fund Fellow has done considerable work toward refining their school vision and model, securing resources, and forming a board. Fellows are also:

  • Deeply committed and driven
  • Visionary and entrepreneurial
  • Self-aware and committed to continuous improvement
  • Results-oriented and results-proven
  • Experienced, results-oriented and results-proven leaders
  • Committed to equity and building strong relationships with all stakeholders
  • Strategic thinkers
  • Strong communicators who possess charisma
  • Resourceful project managers
  • Persistent and relentless change agents

Interested in the Program?

Application Process & Deadlines

The application for the eighth cohort of The Drexel Fund Founders Program will open in October 2023. In the meantime, email with any questions.

The Drexel Fund uses a rigorous application process that delves into candidates’ leadership and entrepreneurial experience—as well as their school design—because while many applicants are enthusiastic about this opportunity, it takes a unique leader to successfully design and launch a new school.

Application Process

Round 1: Candidates will upload a resume and submit answers to short answer questions about their leadership capacity and school proposal. 

Round 2: After a phone interview with a member of the Drexel team, second-round candidates will upload a draft school design and budget, submit references, and complete a set of video interview questions.

Round 3: Finalists will complete performance tasks, have a live interview, and be visited by a member of the Drexel team at their current school or workplace.

Application Deadline

November 26: Application Deadline For Early Review

March 1: Application Closes

Winter/Spring 2024: Decisions  Finalized On A Rolling Basis