“Innovation starts from the bottom up.
That’s where you find the true heart of the matter.”

– Sue Brumbaugh, Fourth Grade Teacher, Havelock Elementary School, Havelock, North Carolina


2020 TrueSchool Fellowship Application is Now Open!

School Leaders or Teacher Leadersapply now

District Leaders or TrueSchool Alumninominate now

  • School Application Deadline = October 15
    Start now and apply early!   

The next TrueSchool Fellowship runs Jan-Dec 2020. Educators participate as school teams of 4-6, including the school leader and at least 3 teacher leaders. 

Thanks to the generous support of our impact investors, the 2020 Fellowship experience is fully-funded for up to 20 school teams in Nebraska, North Carolina, + Missouri. Every team successfully completing the Fellowship receives a direct micro-investment of $500-$2000, based on evidence + potential for student impact.

The School Leader OR a Teacher Leader may submit the application on behalf of their school. If you are an educator outside of NE, NC, or MO and interested in applying for the TrueSchool Fellowship, please indicate your interest here by clicking here. We have a limited number of funded Fellowships for school teams elsewhere in the U.S.

A printable brief overview of the 2020 TrueSchool Fellowship Application Overview can be downloaded as a pdf by clicking here. 


Interested in learning more about the TrueSchool Fellowship? Have any questions?

Call our new application hotline at 857-216-5755 (PIN is 43727).  We’ll be there anytime in the below slots to help you out!

  • Thursday, October 10 : 12-3:30 pm CT  (1-4:30 ET)
  • Friday, October 11 : 10-12 pm CT  (11-1 pm ET)
  • Monday, October 14 : 3-6 pm CT (4-7 pm ET)

If you can’t make those times, email your questions to Maggie at marguerite@trueschool.org


TrueSchool is a social impact organization focused on realizing excellent, continuously improving education systems in which ALL students achieve and thrive. We do this by activating, developing, and investing in outstanding education leaders who are driving forward enduring systems-level improvements in schools, across districts, and throughout states.


The TrueSchool Fellowship is a national, fully-funded, year-long learning experience for school teams. Schools that are selected create a “TrueSchool Team” of 4-6 educators, including the principal and at least 3 teacher leaders. Every school successfully completing the Fellowship receives a direct micro-investment of $500-2000, based on evidence and potential for student impact.

During the Fellowship year, educators come together to address a critical call-to-action for educational equity. They adopt the mindset of innovators within their buildings and gain mastery of the TrueSchool Process for continuous school improvement. They stretch, grow, and develop as individual changemakers and exceptional school leadership teams. They connect with a learning community of visionary educators across their state. And they access a national platform to share their ideas and learn about the innovative work of other schools across the country.

The TrueSchool Fellowship has proven results and impact. By the end of the Fellowship year, each school team has created, implemented, and shared an innovative learning model to improve student achievement and equity. Across the cohort, the Fellowship significantly increases educator collective efficacy—the BEST leading indicator of student achievement. It also improves the commitment and retention of outstanding education leaders to their schools, districts, and the field of education. For more detailed information about the impact of the Fellowship experience, please visit our Impact page.


Each year, state-wide cohorts of school teams (100-200 TrueSchool Fellows per state) are selected through a competitive application process. The process is rigorous and selective, with only a small number of slots per state. We look for educators with exceptional drive and schools with potential to serve as models of student achievement and equity for their state and the country. When scoring the applications, we look for evidence of the following:

  • Champions of equity
  • Innovator’s mindset
  • Sense of ownership and bias towards action
  • Collaborative leadership and environment
  • Willingness to empower teacher leaders

Schools that are nominated by a district leader and/or previous TrueSchool Fellow are given additional points in the application scoring process. If possible, we highly recommend securing the nomination of your district leader or a colleague who participated in a previous year via this nomination form (click here to nominate).


The Fellowship experience includes three core components: Studios, Coaching, and Fieldwork Support

FOUR FULL-DAY STUDIOS: The core skill-building and community-building element of our Fellowship is our Studios: facilitated, fast-paced, cohort-wide workshops. There are four full-day Studios spread out over the 12-month period.

FIELDWORK: Between Studios, educators take everything they’ve learned back to their schools and apply the process, engaging in a wide range of what we call “Fieldwork” actions. Grounded in a human-centered approach, educators engage in fieldwork actions like interviews, shadowing, observations, and prototyping – continuously gathering feedback from students and stakeholders to improve. This empathy work continues to be core to everything we do.

COACHING: Between Studios, certified TrueSchool Coaches provide thought-partnership as teams
independently navigate Fieldwork actions, capture learnings in their digital TrueSchool Blueprints, and learn and improve fast. Coaching is differentiated based on school needs. Generally, each school team will have at least one Coach meeting between Studios.


Studios are the only component of the Fellowship which will require teams to travel in order to meet in-person. There are four full Studio days on Saturdays spread out over the course of the Fellowship year.

2020 Studio Dates in Nebraska
Region A: Metro NE – 1/25, 4/4, 8/1, 10/10
Region B: Western NE – 2/1, 4/18, 8/8, 10/24

2020 Studio Dates in North Carolina
Region A: Eastern NC – 1/25, 4/4, 8/1, 10/10
Region B: Western NC – 2/1, 4/18, 8/8, 10/24

2020 Studio Dates in Missouri
Region A: St. Louis Area – 1/25, 4/11, 8/1, 10/10
Region B: TBD – 2/1, 4/25, 8/8, 10/24

Studio Locations: Studios will be hosted by participating districts and exact locations are TBD based on the schools that are ultimately selected. We anticipate running at least 2 regional cohorts in each state in order to reduce travel time.


Can my school apply?

The application is open to all public schools, including traditional district schools, community schools, magnet schools, and charter schools.

How much does this professional learning experience cost?

The TrueSchool Fellowship is a fully-funded professional learning experience that is free for school teams.  Accepted school teams receive additional funding of $500-2000 to support their plans for student impact.  

Can more than one school in my district apply?
Yes! We think this only enhances the impact of the Fellowship and we very much encourage multiple schools in the same district to apply. Teams are able to learn from each other and collaborate to achieve overall district strategic priorities. This serves to create multiple proof points and models within a single district.

If my school or district participated in the 2018-2019 Fellowship, can we reapply for the 2020 Fellowship?
Yes! We highly recommend that districts engage across multiple years. This only enhances the power of the learning community and the potential for impact of the work.
Individual schools may reapply for the Fellowship. However, we encourage you to create a new TrueSchool Team that includes colleagues who have not previously participated. We also encourage alumni to click here to nominate other educators and schools in their district for the Fellowship.

Do district leaders or district team members participate in the Fellowship? What is the district time commitment?
The district point-person for TrueSchool participates in an initial virtual orientation and 2-4 virtual meetings/calls with the TrueSchool Impact Team over the course of the Fellowship year. These are critical opportunities to share updates school team progress, run through key learning objectives for independent fieldwork, and to gather feedback. We ask for a minimum of 5 hours of district team member time over the course of the year.
Further district-level engagement is highly encouraged, but not required. District leaders are always welcome to attend in-person Studios, observe school teams completing fieldwork actions, or join virtual coaching calls. We think greater district engagement can only enhance the impact of this work for students and we welcome your involvement and feedback always!

Are there opportunities to stay connected with TrueSchool after the end of the year-long Fellowship?
Yes, we recognize that achieving improvement and impact for students is a continuous process. The great thing about TrueSchool is that the learning community extends far beyond the Fellowship year. These visionary educators connect with like-minded colleagues within their district and across their state. This is often the beginning of multi-year collaborations and thought partnership among participating school teams. We also invite all alumni to annual in-person state and national convenings. And we regularly share other fellowship and funding opportunities with alumni.
In addition, alumni often return as TrueSchool Coaches! They are trained to facilitate the TrueSchool Process and receive a stipend to work with future Fellows. This is a great opportunity for educators who want to deepen their understanding of the TrueSchool Process and grow into new leadership roles. 2021 Coach applications will be live in Summer 2020 and posted to our Careers page. Stay tuned!

Are there opportunities for schools to receive funding through the TrueSchool Fellowship?
Yes! At the conclusion of the Fellowship, peer-to-peer micro-investments of $500-2000 are made to each school. The exact amount of the investments are determined by the educators within the cohort, based on their assessment of other school team’s potential for impact for students. In addition, TrueSchool shares and connects Fellows with other opportunities for funding.

Have another question that wasn’t answered above?

Email your question to Maggie at marguerite@trueschool.org. In your email, please also share your name, your school’s and/or district’s name, your role, and the best way to contact you.