Design Fellowship.

Design Fellowship guides participants as they learn about challenges facing DC education and design, implement, and evaluate pilots of equity-centered solutions.

Design Fellowship

Are you a DC-based educator or aspiring education entrepreneur ready to deeply explore a challenge and test potential solutions? Design Fellowship provides customized tools, coaching, and financial support to design, test, adapt, and scale a right-sized pilot solution.

During this four-month immersive fellowship, you will build the knowledge needed to clearly define your problem and design, implement, and evaluate two tests of your proposed solution.

Design Fellowship is currently paused for School Year 2023-2024.

At CityBridge, we believe that piloting is a core practice for equity-centered design. Pilots are experiments, big and small, that are systematically designed to answer a set of learning questions. Through pilots, which are low-risk opportunities to learn, innovators are able to “try-on” a solution aimed at addressing inequities within our education system.

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.

Design Fellowship supports teams in our School Design and Transformation and Ventures pathways through the same shared experience of workshops and coaching:

  • School Model Design: Teams that want to begin the work of designing a new public school model in Washington, DC.
  • School Transformation: Teams at existing DC Public Schools and DC public charter schools that want to design or redesign an element of their school program.
  • Ventures: Teams that want to define and test the core ideas for a social enterprise that supports rigorous and equitable public education.


Over the course of the semester, Design Fellowship will ground you in equitable design principles and teach you how to conduct empathy research; create a theory of change; and plan, run, and learn from pilots. Participants will leave Fellowship with two pilot plans that will help their team understand the problem and advance a proposed solution. Ventures participants will also develop a Value Proposition that will help them build pilots that test the fit between customer needs and their core idea.


Fellowship teams receive strengths-based and identify-affirming support from CityBridge experts during and between workshops. Our coaches uniquely tailor coaching sessions for each team in order to meet their individual needs and the requirements of Design Fellowship, providing a safe space to take risks in order to grapple with new and rigorous concepts.


CityBridge supports our Design Fellowship teams in coalition-building to ensure the sustained success of solutions. Teams are guided through a stakeholder identification and evaluation process and supported as they create engagement plans. In the months after Design Fellowship, participants can receive support for implementation and learning from their pilot work. They will also officially become CityBridge alumni and gain access to the CityBridge alumni newsletter and network.


Teams are eligible for up to $5,000 to support piloting. Design Fellowship 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.

CityBridge programming provides a space where educators and education entrepreneurs can boldly design groundbreaking solutions to entrenched challenges, to better serve DC students. Each cohort joins a supportive community where members are dedicated to creating a public school system worthy of all of our children.


No, all CityBridge programming is provided free of charge to all participants.

Design Fellowship consists of four full-day workshops, typically running from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. ET. Fellowship is designed explicitly as job-embedded learning so that teams can learn, test, and explore alongside learners before moving to larger-scale work.

Ahead of the first in-person workshop, you will convene virtually to get oriented to the program and build community and will be assigned pre-work that should take no more than four hours. Between-session work and coaching sessions should take participants between four and six hours. You will meet with an expert coach once a month between workshops. Post-Fellowship, coaches will review pilot progress and learnings during two hour-long check-ins.

The 20-minute application helps CityBridge understand how you think about the problem you want to work on and how you’ve already tried to address that challenge. Preview a past application. Please note: The application preview includes questions for all pathways. The actual application is shorter and will prompt you to respond to only the questions related to the pathway you select.

Our Design Fellowship is currently paused. To learn about application openings, subscribe to our emails below or follow us on LinkedIn.

Design Studio is not a prerequisite for Design Fellowship. CityBridge’s programs are not linear; they are designed to meet educators and entrepreneurs at different points in their design journey. At the end of each program, participants outline next steps and CityBridge staff are available to discuss additional programming opportunities. 

We’re available to discuss any questions you may have about our programming. Please contact us.

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