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 an inspired 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, and Louisiana.

Through the fellowship, school founders will engage in 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.

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.

Serious candidates for the Founders Program will possess a high-level understanding of their vision for a new school. Drexel’s design and planning support 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, 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. 

Fellowship Highlights

  • Competitive stipend package
  • Customized learning, development and practice plan for each Fellow
  • Coaching sessions on leadership development and assistance with school launch plans
  • Ongoing learning and practice reinforced by monthly cohort training sessions
  • 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
  • Extended support after completing the Fellowship if the Fellow’s school model is selected for school start-up support
 *Visits will be made in accordance with COVID-19 considerations.

Fellow Qualifications

A Drexel Fund Fellow has done considerable work toward refining their vision, securing resources, and forming a board. He or she is also:

  • Deeply committed and driven
  • Visionary
  • Entrepreneurial
  • Self-aware and committed to continuous improvement
  • An experienced, results-oriented and results-proven leader
  • Committed to equity and builds strong relationships with all stakeholders
  • A strategic thinker
  • A strong communicator with charisma
  • A resourceful project manager
  • A persistent and relentless change agent

Interested in the Program?

Application Process & Deadlines

The application for the sixth cohort of The Drexel Fund Founders Program will open in fall 2021. 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 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.

*Visits will be made in accordance with COVID-19 considerations.

Application Deadlines

December 1: First application deadline

February 1: Second application deadline

March 1: First application cohort decisions finalized

May 1:  Second application cohort decisions finalized