South Carolina Announces $250,000 Fellowships for Educators to Launch Top-Notch Charter Schools
Attention, ambitious leaders interested in starting charter schools: South Carolina policymakers are seeking to provide substantial funding to exceptional educators with the expertise to establish their own charter schools.
The South Carolina Public Charter School District has initiated an incubator program with the goal of nurturing high-performing charter schools that cater to underserved populations, specifically those from low-income backgrounds and minority communities.
While some of the state’s current charter schools have shown promise and employ effective strategies, they do not reach the same level of success as renowned networks in other regions of the country, such as those recognized with the prestigious Broad Prize for Urban Education. Superintendent Elliot Smalley of the South Carolina Public Charter School District expressed, "We do not currently have schools of that caliber here."
In 2019, the district intends to award two or three charter school leaders with a fellowship of $250,000 each, enabling them to establish schools in underserved communities. The funds would be allocated towards salary, curriculum development, and the creation of a school model. The fellowship winners would also have the opportunity to travel to other parts of the country to visit successful charter schools.
Interested applicants for the incubator program can propose expanding an existing charter school in South Carolina, bringing a successful charter school or charter management organization to the state, or founding an entirely new one.
The selected fellows will spend one year designing the structure and curriculum of their schools. A significant portion of their time will be devoted to studying the specific needs of the communities they plan to serve, according to Rich Richards, the district’s chief of staff. Richards emphasized, "We will not place even a proven CEO in a community that does not welcome them."
Applications for the fellowship were made available online on June 16 and will close in mid-July. The district anticipates conducting interviews and announcing the winners by early August.
Smalley believes that successful outcomes from this investment will involve the establishment of two to three schools that have a transformative impact on the lives of students from impoverished backgrounds and minority populations.