What does it take to become a transformational leader? What does it take to become a Ryan Fellow?  

Drive. Passion. Focus. Leadership. Grit. Those are just a few of the words used to describe today’s Ryan Fellows. They’re the leaders who are out there with a plan—the right plan to make a dramatic impact in the lives of children living in high-poverty communities.  

It’s not easy. Any Ryan Fellow will tell you that. But they’ll also tell you that the hard work they put in—tirelessly, day in and out—pays off in the success stories they’re helping create for all of our children. 

Hear from some Ryan Fellows in their own words 

Have questions about The Ryan Fellowship? Go here.

About the Ryan Fellowship  

Training, developing and supporting the nation’s next generation of top education leaders

The Ryan Fellowship is the country’s foremost principal fellowship that prepares aspiring school leaders through a rigorous three-year program. The first year is a paid fellowship that provides aspiring principals like you with the opportunity to step back and develop a high-impact strategy and plan for creating a high-achieving urban school—in the year prior to your first year as a principal. 

Once placed as a principal, Ryan Fellows receive two years of customized support to ensure success in those early critical years on the job. 

At the end of it all, Ryan Fellows are stronger, more effective leaders than ever before. Ryan Fellows complete the first year connected to their inner drive to make things happen—unleashing the potential of their students and teachers and allowing for dramatic acceleration of achievement.  

Answers to Frequently Asked Questions

  Download a detailed timeline of The Ryan Fellowship here.

Meeting the Challenge: A Pragmatic Approach to Developing Transformative Aspiring Principals

Program Model  

Preparing individuals to lead start-up schools and achieve accelerated growth in the beginning years of operation

The Ryan Fellowship develops the critical skills that are needed to achieve success as an urban school principal. From day one, candidates work with the best of the best to explore proven practices in K-12 leadership and academic strategies. 

The Fellowship adheres to a practical, hands-on approach to developing the leadership skills of the most accomplished educators in the United States. These future leaders focus on specific, proven strategic skills to develop high-impact plans for achieving academic success—a full year before they become principals. 

The elements of The Ryan Fellowship include:  

Highest Potential Educators: Identifying and selecting the highest leadership potential urban educators in the United States, each of whom has demonstrated the ability to accelerate student achievement as a teacher or administrator.

The Academic Foundation is delivered through the Accelerate Summer Institute in partnership with Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management. The Accelerate Summer Institute is a four-week institute that brings together the nation-wide cohort. Together the Ryan Fellows learn the Accelerate Framework that covers cutting edge entrepreneurial business and school leadership principles and practices that Ryan Fellows must master to create a high-achieving urban school.

The Accelerate Summer Institute culminates in each Ryan Fellow creating a Leadership Strategy and Playbook detailing the leadership strategies and tactics they plan to test and develop through action research in their Field Study experience.

Building on the Accelerate Summer Institute, Ryan Fellows spend six months in a Field Study. There, they develop a deep understanding of how to successfully execute on the critical capabilities of the Accelerate Framework within the context of a high-achieving urban school environment.

Placement as a Principal and Mentored Launch: After completion of the Field Study, each Ryan Fellow will be hired by a charter or autonomous school in their region as a principal preparing to open or take over leadership of the school for the following school year.

As Ryan Fellows move into their principal roles, they participate in a two-year support cycle aligned to the Accelerate Framework. The hallmark of The Ryan Fellowship is our unparalleled and interwoven system of advisory support, professional development, and network of Ryan Fellow Principals connected in mission.

VIEW Accelerate Framework

Advisory Model  

Ryan Fellows come into the program with a continuous improvement mindset


  • Shows a relentless pursuit of perfection
  • Learns and iterates constantly; gets better all the time
  • Has a “whatever it takes” mindset

The Ryan Fellowship does not subscribe to one type of coaching, but instead draws from proven techniques and the knowledge and experience of our team members. These include the techniques from the Talent Code, Blended Coaching, and Six Steps of Effective Feedback. Practice coupled with professional support is what strengthens one’s ability to handle the greatest challenges and highest pressure situations as if we have been there before.

Academic Foundation  

Ryan Fellows spend the first part of the Fellowship at Accelerate Summer Institute, in partnership with the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. They learn proven strategies by working directly with some of the most recognized educators and business leaders in the country.

Past Accelerate Institute speakers  

  • Seth Andrew, Founder of Democracy Prep
  • Chester E. Finn, Jr., President, The Thomas B. Fordham Institute
  • John Aiello, Co-Founder and Chairman of the Board, The SAVO Group, Ltd.
  • Kim Marshall, Marshall Memo
  • Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management professors
  • Larry Levy, Co-Founder and Chairman, Levy Restaurants
  • Bryant Keil, Chairman of the Board, Potbelly Sandwich Works
  • Jeanne Allen, Senior Fellow and President Emeritus, The Center for Education Reform
  • Paul Bambrick-Santoyo, Managing Director, Uncommon Schools Newark
  • John Rowe, former Chairman and CEO, Exelon Corporation
  • Accelerate Institute Team
  • Frederick M. Hess, Director, American Enterprise Institute
  • Pat Ryan, Founder and CEO, Incisent Labs and Founder, Accelerate Institute
  • Plus, principals of high-performing schools from across the country, including Ben Marcovitz, Collegiate Academies and 2013 Ryan Award winner

Field Study Sites

Ryan Fellow Led Schools Across the U.S. 

Ryan Fellow Cities  

Where they are making a difference?

Click on the links below to see these transformational leaders by city. They come from across the nation, but they all have one thing in common: a passion and drive to close the achievement gap in underserved schools.


Ryan Fellows continue to make an impact across the nation

Ryan Fellows have established themselves as a corps of transformational leaders who take a relentless approach to unleash the potential of our most vulnerable students. Here are just a few of their recent accomplishments: