Innovating for the 21st Century

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.

Bringing Leaders Together

We are gearing up to launch the sixth Catalyst Fellowship cohort. We will meet in person across six sessions to imagine, build, and test new ideas and approaches to teaching and learning. We will expand our thinking around how learning environments in St. Louis need to evolve through inspiration visits to innovative schools, with travel tentatively planned for February. The culmination of the program will be concrete designs that help transform the student experience and a plan of action to launch and pilot those ideas.

November 12, 2022

What problems are facing education in St. Louis and what solutions is the community looking for?

January 7, 2023

What will be your future area of impact?

February 7-9, 2023

How do we pull inspiration and ideas from others who are reinventing school?

March 11, 2023

How do we articulate and bring our visions to life in small pilots?

April 1, 2023

How do we invest stakeholders while navigating change?

May 6, 2023

Where do we go next and how do we continue to leverage our village?

Kelli Best-Oliver

Founder, LitShop

Thanks to the Catalyst Fellowship, I was able to take LitShop, a program that provides hands-on building and making opportunities for middle school girls, from pilot to non-profit organization through a careful process of design, feedback, mentoring, and networking. We are now able to provide unique learning experiences for girls in St. Louis that didn't exist two years ago.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are you looking for?

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
  5. A commitment to partnering with students and families
What does the commitment look like?

Given the nature of the program, it is critical that participants can attend all six cohort meetings. Catalyst Fellows will come together in-person for full-day convenings on the following dates:

  • Saturday, November 12
  • Saturday, January 7
  • Tuesday – Thursday, February 7-9
  • Saturday, March 11 
  • Saturday, April 1 
  • Saturday, May 6 

Participants must commit an average of five hours to learn and engage in the process between Catalyst meetings. In the spring, as Fellows design and implement their pilots, they will need to commit additional time outside of scheduled convenings.

Key Dates

Applications open Apply for Catalyst

Dig deeper into what's happening in education in St. Louis, learn a bit about yourself, and get inspired for how you can impact change!

Application deadline

Follow-up conversations as needed

Cohort selected

Applications for Catalyst Cohort 6 are currently being accepted!

  1. Submit your application

    Applications for Catalyst Cohort 6 are now open! Submit your application by October 17th to be considered to join this exceptional community.

The Opportunity Trust invests in educators and school systems eager to build the capacity required to make significant and measurable change.

If that's you, check out our opportunities