Seeking Visionary School Founders

founders crop

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

The Drexel Fund Founders Program

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: Arizona, Florida, Indiana, Louisiana, North Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee and Wisconsin. The eighth cohort of the Founders Program is designed for entrepreneurs who will begin the fellowship in Summer 2025 and be ready to launch a new private school in Fall 2026.

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 seeks Fellows whose schools will have a student body that is at least one third eligible for free/reduced-fee lunch, be 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 will be faith-based or will feature 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 founding school leaders, 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 apply for a school startup investment.

Alternate Path Founders

Compelling school founders who apply to the Founders Program but are not selected may be eligible for Alternate Path support. Applications to Alternate Path are by invitation only.

Fellowship Highlights

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:

Application Process & Deadlines

Application Process

Key Dates