Accelerator Cities: Four Places to Support Equity and Boost Your Career Like Nowhere Else

If you want to create equity and effect meaningful change in public education, take civil rights leader Bryan Stevenson’s advice: Get proximate. Get close to people and communities – and stay close.

There are four particularly important and unique cities to get proximate and make your mark: New Orleans, Memphis, Kansas City, and Tulsa. At EP, we call them “accelerator cities.”


Accelerator cities are high priority sites that have a particularly high demand for talented leaders. They hold unique opportunities to impact education and advance your career rapidly. Here, you’ll be on the forefront of what’s next for public education.

Why should you consider New Orleans, Memphis, Kansas City, or Tulsa?

  •  You’ll be a big fish in a small pond. Accelerator cities represent some of the smaller cities where EP works. Waiting for you in our accelerator cities are local Alumni, senior leaders, and a seat at the table alongside them. Here it’s not about just shaking hands with powerful, influential people — it’s about working side-by-side with them and the communities you’ll serve.

  •  You’ll accelerate your impact with opportunities. Pioneers who work in education become senior leaders at much higher rates than Pioneers who work in other sectors. In accelerator cities especially, there is intense demand for people who can step into big roles immediately on behalf of students and communities.

  •  You’ll accelerate your career with connections. Our Fellowship cohorts are smaller in our accelerator cities, which means a more intimate and personalized Fellow experience. Our Alumni working and living in accelerator cities are excited to welcome new colleagues.

New Orleans, Memphis, Kansas City, and Tulsa each has its own unique identity, strong culture, and proud communities — and they’re each leading innovative work to transform public schools in their most under-resourced communities.

New Orleans. After Hurricane Katrina’s massive destruction in 2005, New Orleans, LA was determined to rise like a phoenix. NOLA seized the chance to rebuild its public schools. There, local leaders threw out the traditional playbook, built a school system that is nearly all charter schools, and started innovating for its young people like few other cities could.

“Few systems have empowered educators up and down the system to improve the quality of public education like New Orleans has. If you want to work in a highly adaptive and responsive education system, with people who are constantly pushing to improve across the system as a whole, come to New Orleans.”

EP Alum Josh McCarty (2011, Chicago), Managing Director of Communications at New Schools for New Orleans

Memphis. Seeing NOLA’s strong results, Tennessee stepped up boldly. In 2009, the state put together an aggressive “Race to the Top” grant application to transform its schools, and won a $500 million, four-year grant (one of the largest grants of the Obama administration’s education program). Eyeing complete turnarounds of some of the city’s lowest-performing schools, in Memphis specifically, education leaders are tackling big challenges and opportunities head-on.

“My purpose in education is to use my skills to bust barriers that cause the achievement and opportunity gaps. Memphis presents incredible opportunity for growth in this area, perhaps even more so than other American cities.”

— EP Alum Melissa Perry (2014, Memphis), Business Analyst, Seeding Success

Kansas City and Tulsa are bold new company for Memphis and NOLA. Supported with philanthropic funding and talented local leadership, these two cities are putting themselves on the public education map and poised to lead the next big changes on behalf of their students.

“To address the challenges Kansas City schools face, passionate and competent education change agents are required. A lot is happening in education in Kansas City. I’ve found it a great place to work and also have fun, with great places to visit and eat. Come to Kansas City—it’s calling you!”

— EP Alum Tanoj Meshram, (2016, Kansas City), Ph.D. Candidate in Social Policy at Brandeis University

Most importantly, working in an accelerator city — like in all of EP’s locations — means that you’re proximate. It’s not about having the answers; instead, it’s about wanting to get close.

Up close, in all of the cities and communities where EP places Fellows, you can hear the perspectives and nuances of the community and the people you want to work alongside and advocate for. Up close, you gain meaningful understanding and empathy. Up close, you can make a real difference.

If you’ve got the guts to step outside your comfort zone, EP’s accelerator cities are calling. There’s no place quite like them to build your legacy.  

Apply today and indicate your interest in New Orleans, Memphis, Kansas City, or Tulsa.