Catalyst Fellowship
2019-2020

The average school today looks, feels, and runs just like school did when we attended.

And when our parents attended. And their parents. Like the factories on which our current system is designed, kids are seated in rows, instructed to listen quietly and practice rote skills — preparing for jobs that are unlikely to exist when they graduate. This design zaps the creativity from both children and teachers and reinforces inequities in our community. For St. Louis to thrive in the 21st century, we need something different. We need a system designed to foster ingenuity and to be agile and dynamic. School should be a place where diverse people come together to solve common and relevant problems.

This will require rethinking school.

This fall, we will bring together leaders to
begin building that future.

We are assembling the third cohort of Catalyst Fellows—educators and entrepreneurs who want to forge the next frontier of learning environments in St. Louis. Together, we’ll embark on a journey to really understand the needs and hopes of our students, look broadly for inspiration, and begin to build a blueprint for the future. We’ll come together four times between October and March to imagine, build, and test new ideas and approaches to teaching and learning. The culmination of the program will be concrete designs that can help transform the student experience and a plan of action to launch and pilot those ideas.

October 18-19

  • What are the aspirations and realities of our students?
  • What are the values , aspirations and realities of the families we serve?
  • What will the future demand of them?

November 14-16
(New York City)

  • How are schools evolving to meet the needs of today and tomorrow?
  • What are the leading edge ideas in teaching and learning?
  • How do our learning environments back in St. Louis need to evolve?

January 17-18

  • How do we refine + begin to bring our visions to life?
  • How can we strengthen our ideas through feedback and research?
  • How might we begin to pilot our ideas in small, but meaningful ways?

March 6-7

  • What is required for innovation to thrive?
  • What is required to design, lead, evolve an innovative learning environment?
  • Where do our visions and learnings go from here?

FAQ

We hope to build a diverse cohort of 12-15 leaders with a range of backgrounds and experiences. As a common thread, we are looking for people who have demonstrated:

  1. Leadership in their school community;
  2. A track record of achieving strong results with their students;
  3. A deep conviction and optimism about the need to reimagine school;
  4. A voracious curiosity and openness to learn; and,
  5. A commitment to partnering with students and families.

Given the nature of the program, it is critical that all participants can attend all four cohort meetings. These will run on Friday evenings and all-day on Saturdays, except for the November meeting, which will be an inspirational visit to New York City (running from Wednesday midday through Friday afternoon).

To spark ideas for our own designs, we’ll explore provocative schools and non-school learning environments in New York, meet with leaders of those communities, and synthesize ideas and insights we can apply to our own context. All costs will be covered by The Opportunity Trust, but you will need to work with your school community to be away from campus for three days.

Interested?

If you’re feeling the limitations of schooling’s status quo and are willing to learn, think big, and commit to trial and error in pursuit of different outcomes for kids, then we want you to join the conversation. RSVP for the virtual information session on August 7 at 4pm here, or you can go ahead and submit an application before August 19th. If you have any urgent questions, please reach out to Genevieve at galander@theopportunitytrust.org.

Timeline

We will have a rolling application process as outlined below:

  • July 1: Application goes live (link will be on this website)
  • August 7: Virtual Info Session at 4pm
  • August 19: Application deadline
  • August 22-30: Follow-up conversations as needed
  • September 9: Cohort finalized

Quotes from last year’s fellows

“The catalyst fellowship provided a platform that for me to acknowledge and accept the current state of education in St. Louis City. More importantly, it provided me the opportunity to be a part of the change.”

“I can’t reiterate enough how I appreciated to thoughtfulness of the fellowship design overall. I don’t know where else I would have gotten these types of experiences as a part of a fellowship.”

“I felt that this fellowship empowered us to move forward to make change in the educational landscape in St. Louis. It did not just focus on the history and problems in our current schools, but it also focused on several angles we can start working toward to make it better.”

For St. Louis.
From St. Louis

The Opportunity Trust is the result of nearly a year studying what is working in our nation’s most dynamic regions and by engaging with parents and teachers, as well as leaders in schools, communities, and businesses on how we can help to accelerate the pace of change in St. Louis.

We envision a St. Louis where every single person is able to find success in a rapidly changing world and a region that draws people from all backgrounds because of its renewed sense of possibility, growing economic opportunity, and safe, just, and joyful communities.

The Opportunity Trust is led by St. Louis natives Eric Scroggins and Marcus Robinson.

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