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 fifth Catalyst Fellowship cohort. We will conduct this year’s program through a hybrid approach with six sessions (four in-person, two virtual) to imagine, build, and test new ideas and approaches to teaching and learning. We will engage in inspiration visits to innovative schools outside of Missouri to expand our thinking around how learning environments in St. Louis need to evolve. We hope to accomplish this through a trip to New York City, however we are prepared with virtual inspiration opportunities should the Covid-19 pandemic make travel impossible. 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.

October 2, 2021

Why must we reimagine learning?

November 3-6, 2021

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

December 9, 2021

How do we communicate + enlist others in our idea?

January 22, 2022

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

March 3, 2022

What are we learning from our pilots?

April 2, 2022

What did we learn + where do we go next?

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 9 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 on the following dates:

  • Saturday, October 2 (8:30am-3:00pm in-person)
  • Wednesday-Saturday, November 3-6 (tentative trip to NYC)
  • Thursday, December 9 (5:00-8:00pm virtual)
  • Saturday, January 22 (8:30am-3:00pm in-person)
  • Thursday, March 3 (5:00-8:00pm virtual)
  • Saturday, April 2 (8:30-3:00pm in-person)

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 are being accepted Apply here

Virtual info session at 4pm CST RSVP here

Application deadline

Follow-up conversations as needed

Cohort selected

The Opportunity Trust is now accepting applications for Catalyst Cohort 5!

  1. Apply for Catalyst

    Complete this brief application to share your commitment to reimagining education and more information about yourself. We aim to bring together diverse educational leaders from across educational systems in St. Louis. We look forward to reviewing your application.

  2. Attend the Info Session

    Learn more about the Catalyst experience at our virtual info session on Tuesday, August 3 at 4:00 pm.

  3. Express your Interest

    Not quite ready to apply yet, but interested in learning more about the Catalyst Fellowship? Complete this interest form to be included on future communications about the fellowship and application process.

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