Leadership in education is super hot right now, and we've covered funding in this area from a number of angles. Big new money is flowing for leadership development as new demands are being made of educators at all levels. For example, as new teacher evaluation systems roll out left and right, the dirty secret behind them is that they put a huge burden on school leaders to implement and execute with fidelity. Not to mention the myriad ways in which school leaders are expected to improve teacher practice through professional development and resource allocation.
Yet even as funders focus new resources in this area, the fact remains that leadership pipelines in most school districts are weak or nonexistent. New Leaders is one organization working to fill this critical void and, not surprisingly, it's attracting support from a number of funders.
New Leaders takes folks with strong instructional talent and places them in an aspiring principals program to develop their skills with a school-based residency. The organization also helps system partners such as districts and charter management organizations with developing policies and practices that develop and improve their school leadership pipelines.
New Leaders also provides training for existing administrators through their leadership development programs. The organization is working in twelve urban areas including the Bay Area, New Orleans, New York City and Chicago. New Leaders reports that it's trained nearly 800 school leaders over the past eleven years, resulting in an impact on more than a quarter million students everyday.
Regarding that impact, a 2010 study by RAND showed a positive association between student achievement and having a New Leader in their second (or higher) year of tenure, along with a small negative relationship between achievement and attending a school led by a first-year New Leader. Shocker.
So where's the money coming from for New Leaders? Nearly a third of the organization’s funding comes from public sources, including the U.S. Department of Education has invested which invested in New Leaders’ work as part of its School Leadership Program as recently as last year.
Half of New Leaders’ resources come from foundations, with the Boeing Company, the Noyce Foundation, and the Robertson Foundation serving as three of their biggest contributors. Boeing focuses their support on the work New Leaders is doing in Chicago Public Schools, while Noyce slots the organization within their larger Human Capital portfolio that supports multiple education leadership efforts. Other notable major funders include the Carnegie Corporation, New Profit, and the Hyde Family Foundations.
Carnegie's funding is especially significant: It recently gave New Leaders $1.5 million and, two years ago, gave it $2 million.
Looking across the portfolios of New Leaders’ funders, most support a heavy human capital agenda that focuses on the capacities of teachers and school leaders to drive student achievement. Results like those from the 2010 RAND study (and the general arc of education reform over the past two decades) suggest that teacher and principal leadership are important, but certainly not the whole ballgame.