A little over a year ago, we announced the Tiny Fellowship, a rework of our flagship program designed to be accessible to people before they quit their job. More recently, we upgraded our earlier-stage program, the Essentials Fellowship, to create a tighter handoff to Tiny. In 2016, we invested in 150 Essentials Fellows and 75 Tiny Fellows. Today, we’re excited to announce that we’re recruiting our next round of fellows.
These changes were motivated by a staunch belief that the current path to launching tomorrow’s schools, learning programs and tools is too opaque and too inaccessible to too many people. At 4.0, we’re committed to creating a more equitable founder path. Here’s how we aim to do that this cycle:
1. We will recruit more intentionally
2. We will keep chipping away at barriers in our programs
3. We will invest in more ideas that fight inequity
4. We will invest in more people building schools
We will recruit more intentionally
- Why it matters: In the past year, we met our goal of investing in a community of fellows that is 50% women and 50% people of color. But we recognize this is just the beginning. We would love to invest in more students, more parents and grandparents, more immigrants, more people living in rural communities, more people who identify as LGBTQ, more people with exceptionalities, and more people who are trying to solve their own problems. To do so, we can’t rely on folks finding us on their own.
- What we’ll do next: We’re going to concentrate our recruitment efforts to allow us to deploy our resources more intentionally. We will recruit for both Essentials and Tiny Fellowships at the same time. We will work with our alumni in cities around the country to reach people we can’t reach through social media alone. We will make sure that the people who are doing the recruiting reflect the people we want to recruit.
We need YOU: We want our fellows to represent our country’s rich, nuanced and complex diversity. If you know someone who has a unique lens to building the future of school, help us reach out to them.
We will keep chipping away at barriers in our programs
- Why it matters: We are striving for both kinds of equity: making our work as much about sharing power as it is about seeking justice. We continue to ask ourselves: What barriers prevent people from accessing and thriving in our programs? We started to answer this question by removing the requirement to quit your job and move to New Orleans. These changes brought more women, more people over 30, and more people of color to our community. But our diverse community of fellows now has a diverse set of needs, and we learned a lot about the challenges of supporting them in a part-time, self-paced, remote program. We think these are the right challenges to keep wrestling with.
- What we’ll do next: We’re partnering with organizations like the Center for Restorative Approaches to continue to identify and chip away at barriers in our programs. We’re going to try more ways to connect fellows with their peers virtually, in-person, one-on-one, and in groups because they can often support each other faster and better than we can. We’re beefing up our staff and systems to become more responsive to the needs of individual fellows. We’re going to contract with 4.0 alumni in the cities where fellows live to act as local connectors to the resources in that city.
We will invest in more ideas that fight inequity
- Why it matters: An equally important question is: How might the ideas we invest in be better at identifying and then fighting racism, sexism, ableism, classism, homophobia, Islamophobia and xenophobia? Solutions to this question are often viewed through a system- or policy-level lens, but we believe that inclusive schools and responsive learning spaces are important pieces of the puzzle. Teams like Adventure Girlz, Peer Connect, Cow Tipping Press, and oneTILT have been leading the way in our community. We want to invest in more ventures that fight inequity head on.
- What we’ll do next: We will hold equity as a core design value. We’re partnering with our colleagues at the Equity Design Collaborative to build tools for defining user needs and problem statements that acknowledge the embedded equity implications. We will provide our fellows with criteria for assessing and selecting solutions through an equity lens.
We need YOU: If you are working on an idea for a school, learning program or tool that directly addresses issues of equity, representation, and anti-racism in education, we want you to apply.
We will invest in more people building schools
- Why it matters: If we’re going to rethink school for the 21st century, we need to rethink how we create schools. Through our sequence of Essentials and Tiny Fellowships, our goal is to reduce the risk of creating new schools by vetting promising concepts at a small scale with willing families and students who provide high-frequency feedback to school leaders before they build a full scale school. Last year, less than 20% of the ideas we received were schools. We want to see that number grow this year.
- What we’ll do next: We’re creating host sites for our school builders to pilot their model with two of our New Orleans based alumni, NOLA Micro Schools, an independent school currently serving grades 2–7, and Rooted School, a high school scheduled to open in August 2017. We hope to make this opportunity available in more communities as more of our alumni launch high quality schools around the country. We’re also partnering with organizations like NewSchools Venture Fund to create pathways for school builders who graduate the Tiny Fellowship.
We need YOU: Our goal this year is that 50% of the fellows we invest in are school builders. If you are an educator and have an idea for a school model that students and families in your community are asking for, join us to bring it to life.
As with the past year, we’re looking to invest in people who will continue to shape and push how we do our work. If you want to build the future of school with us, apply by May 14. If you have questions we can answer, come to one of the webinars we’re hosting on April 25 and May 8. To stay up to date, follow us.