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    Introducing an equitable
    and strategic response
    for reentry and recovery

Accelerate Ignite exists because every school community is unique and there is no one-size-fits-all solution for education in a post-pandemic world. 

This new program was created specifically as a response to the inequity, trauma, and unfinished learning that were exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic among students of color. Accelerate Ignite will help leaders strategically and equitably approach reentry and recovery while taking the unique needs of their school community into context.

Why Ignite is needed now more than ever before

After an extensive analysis of schools led by our Accelerate Institute leaders, we found that no matter the city or district, school leaders who were able to maintain higher than district average attendance rates and balance social and emotional development needs with academic progress monitoring did five things well:

  1. Focused on student engagement at the center of decision making

  2. Executed a strategic plan, adjusting plans based on the changing environment

  3. Leveled up systems by creating innovative ways to respond to the realities of remote learning and responded to what the data was indicating was and was not working

  4. Managed staff capacity and burnout through strategic prioritization

  5. Leaders persisted with resilience because of their commitment to their students, families, and teachers

This resulted in Accelerate Institute building the Ignite Program—a roadmap to achieve a successful reentry and recovery for students who need our help the most.


Participant Information

Chicago school principals are invited to apply with at least (1) member of their school’s leadership team (and no more than 5 team members). Please see the selection criteria below for full details on how to qualify.

  • The principal must apply with at least (1) member of their school’s leadership team (and no more than 5)

  • All enrolled participants are expected to participate in all Ignite programming (Summer Institute, Forums, Advisory, etc.)

  • If the principal is not able to enroll their entire leadership team (e.g., not all can attend Summer Institute) and is unsure which member of their leadership team would be best to choose, we recommend the assistant principal/director of instruction (or similar role)

  • Leadership team members should be staff who have been identified to support the principal as the leader in co-leading instruction and culture work school-wide, preferably without a full-time teaching load


Summer Institute: 5-day virtual cohort experience where leaders will grapple with content in small groups, assess and reflect on the current state of their school and their individual leadership skills, and create a School Strategic Plan

Forums: Ongoing professional learning, cohort problem solving, and continued progress monitoring/course correction of the School Strategic Plan

Microlearnings: Access to weekly 5-min PD videos

School Assessment (3x/year): Identifies trends, challenges, and opportunities for the school

School Advisory: After the Assessment, Ignite participants will meet with their Advisor to review and discuss the results and next steps


The Ignite program focuses on deepening your understanding of how school leaders create an equitable education for children based on three core principles of what schools need:

  1. Systems, structures, and adult mindsets that align with the expectation that all students will achieve.

  2. A positive, relationships-based culture that fosters student belonging and is conducive to high levels of achievement.

  3. Instruction that centers on what (and which) students learned, with support to make high achievement possible.


Summer Institute (August 2-6, 2021)


September Forum

October Forum

November Forum


February Forum

March Forum

April Forum



Selection criteria:

  • Preference given to schools with 70% or more of students who are eligible for FRL and 70% or more of students who identify as people of color.
  • School is located within the city of Chicago, IL
  • Principal is applying with at least 1 member of the school leadership team, preferably the assistant principal/director of instruction (or similar position)
  • Healthy adult culture – principal has a clear vision for the school; leadership team and teachers are on-board and support that vision, even if it includes change.
  • The principal values constructive, critical feedback to help them develop in their own leadership abilities.
  • The principal is ready to put in the necessary work to create strong schoolwide systems and structures that will improve culture and academics at their school.
  • The principal is a strategic thinker committed to improving their school so all students are academically successful and feel safe, respected, and motivated
  • The school leadership team has the skill and will to make their school successful.

Selection process:

  • Complete the application.
  • Phone interview with the principal

Please note, this will be a rolling selection process. 

How much does it cost?

Accelerate Ignite is a fully funded program. Once you have been selected to participate, there is no cost to your school.