EP COVID Response Fellowship Briefing

What leadership and general management talent does the K-12 sector need to meet the challenges of COVID-19?

That’s the question Education Pioneers set out to answer when we first conceived of the COVID Response Fellowship in April 2020. At the time, we knew there would be an urgent response to the crisis, as well as a longer-term effort to recover and rebuild – but we couldn’t predict the details of the work.

We are proud to share stories of impact from the EP COVID Response Fellowship, and to announce EP’s new COVID Recovery Fellowship for 2022. 

Over the course of 12-month work placements from 2020-2021, our 24 COVID Response Fellows had outsized impact on education’s COVID response, providing critical COVID-specific capacity to 20+ school systems serving 7M+ students nationwide. Fellows’ day-to-day work varied, but a common theme rang true: they pushed systems to meet the moment. Their legacy includes:

  • 7 Fellows who drove COVID vaccination or testing efforts;
  • 5 Fellows who ensured systems had the technology, PPE, and other supplies needed to reopen;
  • 5 Fellows who supported effective teaching and learning;
  • 4 Fellows who led efforts to secure or allocate ESSER funding; and
  • 4 Fellows who led the creation or implementation of long-term strategic plans.

Download the full report  or view online >>

K-12 has faced an impossible situation during this pandemic, and small victories matter as school systems balance health and safety with learning. Fellows stepped into this moment with a focus on mitigating COVID risk and finding opportunities to address long-standing inequities. We are heartened to see Fellows enabling students and families to better access technology and academic supports, receive whole-child care, and engage in their communities. Their work has demonstrated that change in education is possible, even and especially in moments of crisis, as long as we keep pressing onwards. 

When we launched the COVID Response Fellowship, we intended it to be a one-time cohort — but we cannot ignore the need for additional capacity as Omicron rages on and schools are receiving unprecedented investment for recovery. Seizing this opportunity requires strategic resource deployment and effective management. Some districts and charters still need capacity to manage ever-changing health and safety considerations; others need leaders who can manage plans to equitably provide students with instructional and social-emotional supports for recovery. All will have the need to make plans, implement them, evaluate success, and adapt.

EP will help to meet these needs by creating a second cohort of COVID Fellows in Spring 2022. The EP COVID Recovery Fellowship will again bring Chief of Staff-level capacity to K-12 school districts, charter school networks, and state education agencies for a full year of impactful work.  Placements will begin April – May 2022, and applications for both talent and Partners are open now. Read our press release or learn more >>

These past two years have been grueling for everyone, but especially those in essential, front-line services like education. Yet we consistently find hope in our community of EP leaders: our Fellows and Alumni who are showing us what change is possible in this generational turning point. Together, we can realize the potential of this moment and make education into a lever for equity.  

In partnership,

Melissa Wu, CEO

January 20, 2022