Answers to your questions about the Principal Fellowship

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

Drive. Passion. Focus. Leadership. Grit. Those are just a few of the words used to describe the Accelerate Institute Principal 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 Principal 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 Principal Fellowship  

The ideal profile of a Principal 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?

In order to enable every child – regardless of their ZIP code – to reach their full potential, we partner to create high-performing schools by dramatically accelerating student achievement.

How can my school/network partner with Accelerate Institute to support an aspiring school leader through the Principal Fellowship?

Accelerate Institute partners with schools/networks that have a predictable need for incoming school leaders (e.g., opening a new campus, preparing for succession planning). It is incumbent upon the partner school/network to identify the educator who will undergo the Principal Fellowship. If the Fellow is already on staff as an assistant principal/director of instruction (or similar position), s/he can continue in their role during the Fellowship Year. Partner schools are required to sign a memorandum of understanding that states both parties' commitment to working together to develop an aspiring school leader.

Please note that Fellowship regions can change each year depending on regional need and funding. If your school/network is interested in discussing the Principal Fellowship in more detail, please have your school/network leader reach out to Vice President of Partnerships Erin Brooks at

Where is the Principal Fellowship located?

The Principal Fellowship begins in July with the Summer Institute at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University in Chicago, Illinois. Following Summer Institute, Fellows return to their region and begin their Field Study. Once Principal Fellows complete the Field Study and begin their principalship, they continue to work closely with Advisors and receive ongoing professional development during the first two years of principalship. Fellowship regions can change each year depending on regional need and funding.

All Principal Fellows make a minimum commitment of three years to their region. In some instances Fellows may also have a “planning year” after the Fellowship Year 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 Principal Fellow and the school site, and Accelerate Institute will begin Year 1 support when the Fellow is in a principalship with students in attendance.

How much does the Principal Fellowship cost for participants?

The total cost of the Principal Fellowship is $150,000 per person; however, there is no cost to the participant. Accelerate Institute works with regional funding partners and/or school partners to cover the cost of tuition and materials as well as room and board for Accelerate Summer Institute, Mid-Year Strategic Planning Retreats, and Annual Strategic Planning Retreats (Years 0-2). Principal Fellows receive salary and benefits from the school partner. This is an agreement solely between the school and Principal Fellow.  

What is the success rate?

While we cannot guarantee principal placement, the rigorous training that Principal Fellows undergo—as well as the partnerships Accelerate Institute forms in each region—makes Fellows highly competitive (and sought after) candidates for principal positions. In total, 94% of Principal 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 (based on NWEA). Overall in the 2014-15 school year, partner principals achieved 1.44 years growth (K-8 based on NWEA) and 1.2 years growth (HS based on ACT). 

Who can I contact to learn more?

Please contact Erin Brooks, Vice President of Partnerships, at for more information about the Principal 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 To file a complaint, visit the IBHE online complaint system at Accelerate Institute is not accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting body.