The Drexel Fund is a venture philanthropy fund that invests in private school founders who are willing to bring innovative educational models to communities of the highest need. This blog series will keep you in the loop on my Drexel Journey!
On October 6 I returned to Chicago, Illinois for the Drexel Fund's Annual Convening. After my first visit to meet the rest of this year's Drexel Fund Founders in August I was excited to return to this incredibly vibrant city and find time to visit several innovative middle/high schools.
The Drexel Fund Annual Convening brings together the Drexel Fund Board with Drexel fund portfolio members (schools, founders and school networks) to meet, share updates, strategize, network and learn from luminaries doing the work of serving students through education. In between bites of Chicago - style pizza (sorry, NY pizza still wins!) I was able to attend individualized learning sessions designed to build those areas where I must make the greatest growth to become a better school founder: board and fundraising development, hiring best practices, diversity and inclusion and social-emotional frameworks (including building parent-school partnerships). I also had the opportunity to sit in on consultancy panels where educational leaders hear the challenges of other school founders across the nation and rapid brainstorm suggestions and solutions for success. A truly amazing experience.
I was also able to visit three schools on this trip:
Noble Schools UIC College Prep
Cristo Rey School
Rowe Elementary School
At each school site I was able to speak with children about the student experience, chat with administration about school culture and address the unique challenges of innovative school models.
Highlights for me included:
- Restorative "Compass" Circles used at the Valor Schools
- Schoolwide Internship model at Cristo Rey
- Picking the brain of Darren Jackson, current Drexel Fund board member and former CFO of Best Buy and Nordstrom
School visits are a big part of the Drexel Fund Fellowship experience and my next trip is the most ambitious one yet! From Sunday, October 20 - Monday, November 11 I will travel to five states to see 10 amazing schools:
Texas (Manor New Tech and Cedars International)
Idaho (The One Stone School)
Oregon (Al Kennedy High School)
California (Edible Schoolyard, LifeLab, Design 39, Empower Academy)
Wyoming (Teton Science Schools)
I am so excited to be able to visit schools that are changing the lives of families and changing the face of education as we know it!