Catalyst Fellowship Application

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 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 second cohort of Catalyst Fellows—educators and entrepreneurs who want to imagine and launch 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 November and March to imagine, build, and test new designs and approaches to teaching and learning. The culmination of the program will be concrete ideas you can begin piloting in your current context, and potentially the foundations of a school model to accompany an application to join the Entrepreneur-in-Residence Program in the future.

November 9-10th

  • What are the aspirations and realities of our students?
  • What are the values of the families we serve?
  • What future do they hope for? For themselves and St. Louis?
  • What is the current lived experience in school?

December 9-11th

  • How are schools evolving to meet the needs of today and tomorrow?
  • What are the leading edge ideas in school innovation? What’s the next frontier?
  • What are the skills, knowledge, beliefs our students will need to thrive in/transform the future?
  • What might we imagine and build back in St. Louis?

January 25-26th

  • How do we 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 8-9th

  • 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?


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 deep conviction and optimism about the need to reimagine school;
  3. A voracious curiosity and openness to learn;
  4. A commitment to partnering with students and families; and,
  5. Interest in being part of a team that opens or transforms a school in the next five years.

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 Saturdays, except for the December meeting, which will be an inspirational visit to the San Francisco Bay Area (running from Sunday afternoon to Tuesday evening).

To spark ideas for our own designs, we’ll explore provocative schools and non-school learning environments in the Bay Area, meet with leaders of those communities, and synthesize ideas and insights we can apply to our own design. 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 two of the days.
Each year, The Opportunity Trust supports a small number of leaders with two years of funding and support to design, test, and launch new school models in St. Louis. The application process for the EIR program culminates in March. The Catalyst Fellowship provides a powerful opportunity to develop your vision for a new school community, which is a critical component of the application for the EIR program.


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.

Contact Genevieve Alander with any of your questions and complete the short application.


We will have a rolling application process as outlined below:

  • Aug 6: Application launches
  • Aug 29: A Virtual Info Session. View recording to learn more.
  • Sept 6: First application deadline
  • Sept 12: Second application deadline (if cohort is not full)
  • Oct 1: 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.

The Opportunity Trust logo
4660 Maryland Ave #260,
St. Louis, MO 63108, USA
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