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Who can participate in the CityBridge Design Fellowship?

  • Teams of entrepreneurs and educators interested in starting a new education venture or charter school in DC.
  • Teams of educators based in existing DCPS or charter schools interested in addressing evidence-based instruction in early literacy or social and emotional well-being of secondary students.
  • Participants who are able to commit 4 to 6 hours between each workshop to apply the tools with students and the school community.
  • The Fellowship is designed for teams, not for individuals. We encourage teams consisting of three members.
  • Teams within schools should consist of faculty, staff, and leaders working at DC Public Schools or DC Public Charter Schools. Teams can also include a central office or non-school-based staff.
  • Teams focused on building a new school or non-school venture should have at least one member of the team be based in a school or work directly with students on a regular basis.


Do I have to apply as a team? Can CityBridge help me find team members?

  • Yes, you must apply as a team. We’ve learned from experience that the work of designing and scaling a solution is more successful if team-based.
  • No, unfortunately, we do not have the capacity at this time to help participants form teams. However, the first stage of the CityBridge Incubator, Design Studio, is designed for individuals.


What will participants do in the Design Fellowship?

  • Explore and define a student-centered problem and the conditions that shape it
  • Design two pilots to test, adapt, and scale innovative and equity-centered solutions
  • Draft a theory of change that explains how the activities of a team or an organization fit together to create the outcomes they want
  • Craft personal stories about their design journey in order to build a strong coalition of supporters for their work
  • Learn, collaborate, and connect with a community of like-minded educators, entrepreneurs, and leaders


What will participants create and walk away with? 

  • Two pilot plans that will help your team understand the problem and advance a proposed solution
  • A theory of change
  • A set of storytelling tools and a plan for building a supporting coalition
  • Learnings and insights from testing


What follow-up support is available to participants?

  • Participants are eligible for grants to support their ongoing pilot work. Participants can also receive ongoing support to continue piloting following the workshops through our communities of practice, Targeted Networks.


What is the time commitment?

  • The pre-work for Design Fellowship will take participants approximately 3-4 hours prior to the first workshop.
  • The four workshops will be full-day experiences, typically running from 8:30 am to 3:00 pm EST. These will remain virtual until public health recommendations change.
  • Monthly applied design work and coaching sessions will take participants between 4-6 hours.
  • Two 45-minute check-ins during the semester following Fellowship where coaches will check in on pilot progress and learnings.


Do team members need to quit their jobs to participate?

  • No. The Fellowship is specifically designed as job-embedded learning so that teams can learn, test, and explore alongside learners before moving to larger-scale work.


How much funding do participants receive?

  • Non-school ventures and new start charter teams are eligible for up to $5,000 to support piloting. Up to $7,500 is available for existing school teams focused on one of the two problem areas. Teams must track all grant spending and work with a coach to access the resources. More information about the grant application and process will be available after teams apply.


What happens if a team’s pilot project doesn’t work?

  • The purpose of piloting is to learn. If a pilot doesn’t produce the student experience that the team intended, then a well-designed set of measures will help teams learn why it didn’t work the way they hypothesized. That, in turn, will help teams iterate and build better solutions over time.


What kinds of projects have fellows worked on in the past?


For Existing Schools:

Do I need to have experience addressing one of these problems to apply to the spring Fellowship?

  • Yes. We are looking for participants, working in existing public schools, who have experienced the problem and made attempts, even minor, to solve it. Our goal is to help participants capitalize on their existing knowledge of the root causes of the problem and the contextual challenges of implementation in order to catalyze more robust piloting while in the program.


How do we define the Science of Reading?

  • It is the evidence-based body of research and knowledge of how children learn to read. It is grounded in brain science, theory, and phonology. In practice, literacy instruction includes the five evidence-based components of reading as defined by the National Reading Panel: phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension.


Why are the problem areas focused solely on designing solutions in existing schools?

  • We want to decrease the barriers to early piloting which oftentimes includes the inability to access educators and students. Additionally, we hope the resulting solutions that emerge from piloting have immediate “school homes” as the problems we have selected are urgent.


What does it mean to have access to a “network of experts”?

  • We are currently cultivating local and national researchers and practitioners to bring greater insight and knowledge about the problems to our program participants. There will be opportunities for our participants to attend convenings and receive dedicated feedback and coaching to increase the rigor and sophistication of the solutions they design.