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 fourth Catalyst Fellowship cohort. We will conduct this year’s program virtually through six virtual sessions to imagine, build, and test new ideas and approaches to teaching and learning. We will engage in virtual inspiration visits to innovative schools across the U.S. to expand our thinking around how learning environments in St. Louis need to evolve. 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 17, 2020

Why must we reimagine learning?

November 14, 2020

What are the specific shifts needed in our community?

December 12, 2020

How are others innovating to address those needs?

January 9, 2021

How do we communicate + enlist others in our idea?

February 6, 2021

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

April 10, 2021

What did we learn + what does it take to sustain innovation?

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 virtual cohort meetings. Catalyst Fellows will meet on the following Saturdays from 9 am-2 pm:

  • October 17
  • November 14
  • December 12
  • January 9
  • February 6
  • April 10

Participants must commit an average of five hours to learn and engage in the process between Catalyst meetings. In the spring, as Fellows work towards completing their pitches, they may need to commit additional time outside of scheduled convenings.

Key Dates

Initial applications accepted on a rolling basis

Virtual info session at 4pm CST Watch the recording

Application deadline

Follow-up conversations as needed

Cohort selected

Applications are now closed.

  1. Catalyst Interest Form

    Share your information to be included on future communications about the application process. We will follow up this summer with more information when the application goes live.

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