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Social Capitalists: New Leaders for New Schools

43 entrepreneurs who are changing the world
Social Capitalist 2008 Winner

New Leaders for New Schools

Jon Schnur, CEO
New York, New York

New Leaders CEO Jon Schnur and a team of other social entrepreneurs founded New Leaders for New Schools in 2000 based on clear evidence that effective principals are fundamental to school improvement and student achievement, and on the belief that every student, regardless of circumstance, can achieve at high levels.

The nation's prosperity depends on the ability of all young people to reach high levels of knowledge and achievement, but there is a profound achievement gap disproportionately affecting students of color and students from low-income backgrounds. Compounding this issue are two other growing problems: the nation's growing shortage of principals and the failure of traditional principal development programs to adequately prepare principals for leading urban public schools.

The mission of New Leaders is to ensure high academic achievement for every student by attracting and preparing outstanding leaders and supporting the performance of the urban public schools they lead at scale. Through a comprehensive program, New Leaders provides aspiring principals with rigorous, hands-on training; a year-long, full-time residency in an urban public school; ongoing leadership and school support from successful veteran principals; and a lifelong community of like-minded peers.

By fundamentally reshaping how principals are prepared, New Leaders for New Schools has seeded significant improvement in urban schools and school systems around the country, including Baltimore, California’s Bay Area, Chicago, Memphis, Milwaukee, New Orleans, New York City, Prince George’s County, Maryland, and Washington, DC.

Over the next seven years, New Leaders for New Schools is working towards the following goals in pursuit of their mission: 1) 80% of schools led by New Leaders principals for at least 5 years will have 90-100% of students achieve proficiency in core academic subjects and be on track to graduate from high school ready for college, careers, and citizenship, 2) over 50% of schools in most of their current partner cities filled with high-quality New Leaders principals, and 3) New Leaders for New Schools will be a world-class, scalable, sustainable, and innovative "action tank" whereby the results of and lessons learned from highly successful schools and principals are coupled with a strong knowledge base. Indeed, New Leaders are achieving impressive results:

  • To date, New Leaders has grown to a national community of 431 school leaders serving over 200,000 students in nine cities.
  • Ninety-six percent of New Leaders participants have been hired for school leadership positions, and the organization is on its way toward meeting its goal of training 20-25% of the new principals in the U.S. needed for urban, low-income schools by 2014.
  • In most cities, schools led by New Leaders principals for at least two years are outperforming their district counterparts who serve similar populations.
  • Last year, two-thirds of schools led by New Leaders principals outperformed their district counterparts serving similar populations and 30 percent of New Leaders schools made academic achievement gains of at least 10 percent in reading and math.

New Leaders is in search of current or former educators who have an unyielding belief and sense of urgency to ensure that all students achieve academically at high levels, instructional expertise in a K-12 classroom, a record of success in leading adults, and a relentless drive to lead an excellent urban public school. Additionally, New Leaders seeks candidates who have the capacity to define a vision, build teams to get results, and achieve despite tremendous obstacles. Over the next decade, New Leaders will build a 2,000-person national principal corps to impact one million urban students annually. The priority application deadline for the 2008-2009 program year is October 25th, 2007. For more information, to nominate a New Leader, or to apply, visit