Answers to your questions about The Ryan Fellowship

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 in underserved urban 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 their students. 

Selection Criteria for The Ryan Fellowship  

The ideal profile of a Ryan Fellow is a candidate who has the following qualities, experiences and career achievements: 
  • Alignment with Accelerate Institute's mission
  • Strategic Thinking
  • Growth Mindset
  • Professionalism
  • Communication
  • Instructional Expertise​
  • Work Ethic
  • Confidence
  • Relationship Building
  • High Level of Emotional Intelligence

What is the mission of Accelerate Institute?

Closing the achievement gap by creating high-impact school leaders who accelerate student achievement.

Where is The Ryan Fellowship located?

The Ryan Fellowship begins in July with a 4-week Summer Institute at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University in Chicago, Illinois. Following Summer Institute, Fellows begin thee Field Study (7-11 months) at an urban charter school in the Ryan Fellowship region where the Fellow is located. Once Ryan Fellows complete the Field Study and are hired as school principals in their region, they continue to work closely with Advisors during the first two years of principalship.

Ryan Fellowship regions can change each year depending on regional need and funding. Please reach out to Director of Talent, Stephanie Shear (<<insert hyperlink to sshear@accelerateinstitute.org), for more information on current Ryan Fellowship regions. We strongly encourage candidates who have a personal knowledge of one of our regions (i.e., currently living in region or previously lived in region) to apply.

All Ryan Fellows make a minimum commitment of three years to their region. In some instances Ryan Fellows may also have a “planning year” after the Fellowship Year (Year 1) in anticipation of a new school launch or principalship opportunity where they may remain in an AP/DOI position or in a formal planning year. This is a decision between the Ryan Fellow and the school site, and Accelerate Institute will begin Year 2 support when the Fellow is in a principalship with students in attendance.

Who can apply?

The Ryan Fellowship’s criteria are based on five main areas: 

  1. Fit with Accelerate Institute's mission
  2. Instructional expertise (minimum of 3+ years of K-12 full-time classroom teaching experience, as well as experience with instructional coaching)
  3. Formal school-based adult management experience (minimum of 1+ years in a supervisory role such as AP or director of instruction)
  4. Experience teaching and leading in a high-need school (70%+ students of color and 70%+ students receiving free/reduced lunch)
  5. Leadership/management qualities (e.g., growth mindset, confidence, grit, the ability to motivate and inspire, etc.)

How do I nominate someone for The Ryan Fellowship?

Please contact Kyle Smucker to nominate a candidate for The Ryan Fellowship. Please include the candidate’s name, contact information (email/phone), current title, and school/organization as well as a brief statement about why you are nominating them.

How much does The Ryan Fellowship cost for participants?

There is no participant cost. Accelerate Institute covers tuition and materials as well as room and board for Accelerate Summer Institute, mid-year Strategic Planning Retreats, and annual Strategic Planning Retreats (Years 1-3). Ryan Fellows also continue to receive a full salary during Year 1, either from the school/CMO where they currently work or through Accelerate Institute. In most cases, Accelerate Institute will match a candidate’s current salary. During Years 2-3 Ryan Fellows receive a salary from the schools/networks where they are hired as a principal. 

What is The Ryan Fellowship’s success rate?

While we cannot guarantee principal placement, the rigorous selection process and training that Ryan Fellows undergo—as well as the partnerships Accelerate Institute forms in each region—makes Ryan Fellows highly competitive (and sought after) candidates for principal positions. In total, 94% of Ryan Fellows recommended for principalship were hired as principals.

Elementary and middle schools led by Accelerate Institute alumni are closing the achievement gap and growing an average of 1.2 years in math and reading on average (Based on NWEA). Overall in the 2014-15 school year, Ryan Fellow principals achieved 1.44 years growth (K-8 based on NWEA) and 1.20 years growth (HS based on ACT). 

What is the selection committee looking for?

Ryan Fellows are chosen based on their past achievements in urban education and their potential and commitment to becoming leaders who can close the achievement gap. Candidates must have a strong growth mindset, strategic thinking skills, relentless focus and disciplined execution. For more details, please see our selection criteria at the top of this page.

When is the application deadline?

The Ryan Fellowship has a rolling application and selection process. The application for the Class of 2018 will open in August. Application deadlines are:

  • November 18, 2017
  • January 15, 2018
  • February 28, 2018
  • March 31, 2018

We have a limited number of Fellowships available for each region, so we encourage candidates to apply early. Please contact Stephanie Shear, Director of Talent for more information. 

What is the selection process? 

The Ryan Fellowship selection process consists of 6 steps:

  • Online application
  • Phone screen (if applicable)
  • Phone interview
  • Video interview
  • In-person finalist interview
  • References check 

Who can I contact to learn more?

Please contact Stephanie Shear, Director of Talent, for more information about The Ryan Fellowship.


Accelerate Institute is approved by the Private Business and Vocational Schools Division of the Illinois Board of Higher Education. You may contact them by calling (217) 782-2551 or send an email to info@ibhe.org. To file a complaint, visit the IBHE online complaint system at www.complaints.ibhe.org. Accelerate Institute is not accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting body.