Now more than ever, BES is working alongside local partners and identifying diverse leaders with a strong vision for schooling who place community input at the center of their work.

Founding Locally-Responsive, Equitable Schools


We are accepting applications for the BES Fellowship in the following regions:

Arizona | Georgia | Tennessee

Fellowship placements in any of the regions listed above are made possible by local funding and support from our various regional partners, with an additional 1-2 placements per year made possible through national funding that can be flexibly allocated to regions with demonstrated community need. Click here to learn more about applying for other regions which include a priority for: Alabama, Colorado (outside of the Denver metropolitan area), Connecticut, Indiana, Iowa, Maine, North Carolina, Rhode Island, South Carolina, and Texas.


We accept applications on a rolling basis.



BES Fellowship Compensation & Benefits Include:
$100,000+ stipend plus health benefits for each training year | Travel and accommodations for training and during school study travel | Technology support | Reimbursement for up to $5,000 in moving expenses | Reimbursements for school design expenses, design team expenses, or professional development (amount dependent on track) | The opportunity to apply for BES start-up fund awards and/or those provided exclusively to Fellows by our partners

A Rigorous Multi-Year Process

Fellowship Overview

Through the BES Fellowship, individuals deeply committed to transforming education embark on a four or five-year process to design, found, and lead an excellent public school.

Training & School Design: (1-2 years)

Fellows take part in one of two tracks:

BUILD TRACK: All Fellows found and lead a locally-responsive, fresh-start public charter school.
– Build Fellows spend one year designing a school model in response to community needs and grounded in learnings from excellent schools.
Community Co-Design Fellows spend two years co-designing a school alongside a community co-design team.
Character and Equity Fellows spend one or two years designing a school model focused on equity and human development, in addition to other locally responsive elements as a Build or Community Co-Design Fellow.

GROWTH TRACK: Fellows found and lead the replication or expansion of an existing charter school

Fellows participate in 300+ training hours (450+ for Community Co-Design Fellowship, 150-300+ for Growth Track), study 20+ exemplar schools nationwide, complete a minimum of two residencies at excellent and equitable schools, write and submit their charter application, and build a founding board.

many regions, BES collaborates with local education champion organizations to support Fellows to design and found new schools.

Over the course of the training and school design phase, Fellows, with the support of BES, commit to raising startup funds for the school. Upon completion of the training and school design phase, Fellows partner with a dedicated BES coach, who works closely with leaders in years 0-2. This coaching program, called Follow On Support, ensures that schools start strong and stay strong.

Planning Year: (Follow On Support)

Leaders become strong project managers; develop leadership skills where they have gaps; gain content knowledge; identify, vet, and onboard their founding team; recruit their founding students; move from lead founder to school leader; and crystallize their vision for the school. Leaders receive further coaching and training on anti-racist school leadership, which we believe is essential to enacting the kind of transformational change that students deserve.

Note that the planning year may look different for Fellows taking part in the Growth Track, depending on the needs of the region, school, and community.

Year 1 of Operation: (Follow On Support) 

Leaders actualize their vision for an anti-racist, equitable school when they welcome their inaugural class of students, become strong teacher coaches, use data to intentionally move academic results and address achievement and opportunity gaps, and manage and cultivate diverse talent.

Year 2 of Operation: (Follow On Support)

Leaders champion and uphold their vision as the school size doubles. Leaders primarily work on sharpening the academic focus, attracting and managing talent in a competitive market, developing a strong leadership bench, and sustaining a culturally relevant and anti-racist environment.

Fellowship Selection Competencies

The Fellowship selection process is extremely rigorous, designed to truly understand who you are as a leader and your vision for a high-achieving, locally responsive school. The following are the competencies we look for during the selection process. To be considered for the BES Fellowship, all applicants must have at least five years of full-time professional experience, including at least two years working in K-12 education and at least two years of formal experience leading and managing adults. All successful candidates will also be aligned with BES’s beliefs about equitable and anti-racist schools. In addition to these minimum requirements, the following competencies are assessed during the selection process.

Please note that additional minimum criteria may exist for Growth Track opportunities as well as regions where partner interviews are required, contingent on partner requirements. Please connect with our team to learn more.




Training & School Design

(1-2 years)

Build Fellows will participate in training, coaching, and school study to:

  • Develop and implement a community engagement plan
  • Engage with the community to gather input and feedback on the proposed school model
  • Build and lead founding board
  • Write charter application based on the needs of the community and observations of exemplar schools
  • Submit charter application with board of directors
  • Mobilize community support for the school

Year 1 Community Co-Design Fellows will participate in training, coaching, and school study to:

  • Develop and implement a community engagement plan
  • Build and lead a community co-design team
  • Research and study exemplar schools
  • Create a draft school design plan through the engagement with the community co-design team

Year 2 Community Co-Design Fellows will participate in training, coaching, and school study to:

  • Engage with the community to gather input and feedback on the proposed school model
  • Build and lead founding board
  • Write charter application based on the needs of the community and observations of exemplar schools
  • Submit charter application with board of directors
  • Mobilize community support for the school

BES will provide:

  • 300+ hours of practice-based training, leadership coaching, and professional development
  • 20+ school studies at exemplar schools nationwide
  • Board governance training on selecting and growing founding board members
  • Charter application feedback and support in navigating the local authorization process
  • Community engagement training and support

Planning Year

BES Fellows will:

  • Shift founding board to governing board
  • Transition from Fellow to School Leader
  • Recruit and hire mission-aligned staff
  • Enroll students through robust community outreach
  • Develop curriculum and assessments
  • Secure facility for start-up years of school
  • Create a plan to ensure that students, families, and staff embrace school design

BES will provide support on:

  • Board transition retreat
  • Budget reviews
  • Student recruitment planning
  • Curriculum and assessment planning
  • Staff and student orientation planning
  • Networking with BES school leaders

Year 1 of Operation

BES Fellows will:

  • Welcome founding cohort of students
  • Lead students on the path to academic and non-academic excellence
  • Maintain sound governance through active work with board members
  • Continue to hire staff, recruit students, and write curriculum in preparation for future years

BES will provide support on:

  • Staff recruitment
  • School culture, instruction, and operations
  • Leadership development, including leading with equity
  • Assessment and long-term curricular planning
  • Data analysis, action-planning, and closing gaps

Year 2 of Operation

BES Fellows will:

  • Continue to lead staff, students, and families on the path to academic and non-academic excellence
  • Sharpen academic focus, operational systems, and school culture
  • Develop a leadership bench for future school growth

BES will provide support on:

  • Staff retention and development
  • School culture, instruction, and operations
  • Assessment and long-term curricular planning
  • Development of leadership bench

The five application steps are designed to understand a candidate’s vision for and beliefs about excellent schools and gain a clear sense of their leadership strengths. The steps outlined below may shift or include additional conversations depending on regional needs and partner processes. 


Step One: Online Application

Next, we’d like to learn about you through our online application. The application consists of questions about your background, qualifications, vision for a locally responsive school, and commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion. The application takes approximately 30-60 minutes to complete and applications are accepted on a rolling basis throughout the year. Applicants are encouraged to submit their applications as soon as they are ready to secure a spot in regions with limited availability. Note that you will not be able to save your work and return, so the online application must be completed in one sitting.

Time between steps 1-2: Approximately 1-2 weeks

Step Two:
Phone Screen

After BES reviews your online application and resume, you may be invited to participate in a phone screen. This call will give you an opportunity to learn more about the Fellowship and will give our recruiting team an opportunity to learn more about you. Our team can answer any questions you may have about the Fellowship, and will be able to update you shortly after if you qualify for the interview phase of the process.

Time between steps 2-3: Approximately 2-4 weeks

Step Three:
Initial Virtual Interview

After the Phone Screen stage, select candidates are invited to participate in a 45-60 minute Zoom interview with two members of the selection committee. In preparation for this interview, candidates are asked to do some pre-thinking about their proposed region and their rationale for their school model. 

Time between steps 3-4: Approximately 4-8 weeks

Step Four:
Final Virtual Interview

After the first Virtual interview, select applicants will be invited to participate in the final interview process, which consists of a performance task that is completed independently followed by timed pre-work ahead of a final virtual interview with members of the BES leadership team and the BES Fellowship team. Final interviews will occur at set times that correspond with application deadlines. Please see the table below.

Time between steps 4-5: Approximately 2-6 weeks

Step Five:
Interview with Funders or Partners (select candidates)

Depending on the Fellowship track and/or region, candidates may be asked to interview with local partners or funders before a final decision is made. In these instances, the selection of a candidate is a mutual decision between BES and the partner organization, with BES managing the process to ensure consistency and equity.

Please email with questions about the application process.

The time between step 5 and a final decision may vary depending on partner requirements and processes, or due to other regional factors.



Through the Build Track of the BES Fellowship, Dr. LaTasha Adams is proposing to found a high school in Columbus, GA, her hometown. She has over two decades of experience working as an educator and administrator in both traditional public schools and public charter schools in Georgia, as well as working in higher education in the state. As a student in Muscogee County elementary, middle, and high schools, LaTasha was repeatedly tracked into lower levels. Were it not for her parents’ advocacy and fundamental belief that education could change her trajectory, LaTasha recognizes that her opportunities in life could have been far more limited. “My parents knew excellent schooling was one way to change the trajectory of my family for generations. They succeeded, and I want other children to have the opportunity to receive an excellent education and the ability to choose outcomes for their families.”

LaTasha is an equity-focused, innovative educational leader who fosters a culturally responsive, rigorous, and collaborative learning environment for all members of the school community to thrive in college, careers, and life. She proposes to dismantle oppressive systems that seek to marginalize and destroy the opportunities, access, and abilities of underserved youth and families. She is set apart by her resilience, agency, and hard work towards ensuring that all students have the opportunity to excel given their unique talents and abilities. To this end, she seeks to found a school that will focus on personalized, flexible learning. Design thinking will be utilized to help students explore solutions to complex community problems within a culturally responsive, inclusive school environment.

LaTasha is a tenured Associate Professor at Clayton State University, where she trains teachers with an equity lens. She founded Dominion Literacy, a nonprofit that focuses on family advocacy. Prior to this, LaTasha spent 20 years working in K-12 education as an administrator, teacher, curriculum specialist, and educational researcher. She received her B.A. in English from Spelman College and holds a Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction from The University of North Carolina at Charlotte.

By the time Brandian Bufford made it to high school, she was experiencing life in ways she had never imagined. As a teen mom, she felt discounted and dismissed. When sharing with a counselor that she wished to be a doctor, Brandian was encouraged instead to consider a career that would not require as much knowledge. For a long time, Brandian believed that, for her, opportunities would be limited if not impossible. Then one evening, she had a conversation with an educator that changed her life forever. She was encouraged to apply to colleges, for grants, and for financial aid to major in whatever she wanted to be. 

“That was the first time I believed that I did not have to be defined by my circumstances. It was in that moment that I wanted to become the one conversation that changed a life for as many students as I could touch.” 

For Brandian, being an educator is more than a vision or mission statement; it is personal. She sees herself in the students she chooses to serve, and it is her hope that they can see themselves in her to choose their own paths post high school.   

Prior to joining the Community Co-Design Track of the BES Fellowship, Brandian was the principal at Laurel High School, where she served students in grades 9-12. Previously she served as the dean of instruction at a high school in the Houston Independent School District. Prior to this, Brandian served as reading specialist, 9th grade administrator, and department chair. Brandian received her bachelor’s and master’s in Elementary Education from William Carey University and holds a Doctorate in Educational Leadership from Prairie View A&M University.

As a student, Katie Hahn (she/her/hers) benefited from a school community that encouraged her to think critically, explore her passions, and take ownership over her learning. “Although I experienced strong educational opportunities, as a biracial student I often felt othered within a largely homogenous student body. I want to found an intentionally integrated school that will stimulate students intellectually while celebrating their unique identities and supporting them to find their sense of purpose in our increasingly diverse society.”

Throughout her career, Katie has learned that educational experiences like those she benefited from are rare for all students, and particularly for students of color. Many schools she’s worked in have primarily focused on basic skills for students deemed “at risk” or “high need,” which she sees as an equity issue. “Our school will combine high-level academic content and skills education with a focus on purpose finding, identity development, and community building. This type of environment will equip students to navigate the current workforce and build a better future,” Katie says. Using her background in social work and community schools, Katie and her team will work closely with families and community partners to provide essential wraparound support to students. Katie is partnering with her husband on designing the school, where he will serve as co-director.

Katie recently completed the New School Creation Fellowship with High Tech High Graduate School of Education while earning a master’s in educational leadership. Previously, she served as a program manager in the New York City Department of Education’s Office of Community Schools, and a founding community school director at a sixth through twelfth-grade school in Brooklyn. Katie holds a bachelor’s in social studies from Harvard University and received a master’s in social work from New York University.

A native of the Charlotte, NC area, Paul Barnhardt (he/him/his) has spent the last decade serving as a school and nonprofit leader in the region. In this time, he has interacted with countless families who are seeking stronger educational options for their children. “Our current educational landscape has left students from low-income families out of the equation for success. We must do better as a Charlotte community. Our school will be a part of the answer.”

Having grown up mainly interacting with families similar to his own, it wasn’t until college that Paul was confronted with the inequities that existed for his fellow students from different backgrounds. This inspired him to join Teach For America, where he started on his path to leadership, working to close the opportunity gap for the students in his schools. Through the BES Fellowship, Paul seeks to found a school that focuses on students’ worth and potential as tomorrow’s leaders. This starts with rigorous academics and a focus on character education, meeting students’ needs through support around nutrition and health care, and cultivating strong school-family partnerships. “Families are an integral part of a student’s long-term success. We plan to utilize the multiple opportunities that the Charlotte community has to offer to provide various wrap-around supports. Relationships and alignment between the school and families will allow students to rise to their full potential.”

Most recently, Paul served as the chief operating officer at Freedom School Partners in Charlotte. Previously, he has held a variety of leadership roles, including executive director of New Leaders, recruitment director at Teach For America, and a principal in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools and the Greenwood Public School District in Greenwood, MS. Paul holds a bachelor’s degree in political science and elementary education from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a master’s in educational leadership from Delta State University.


What Leaders Are Saying

Yutaka Tamura

“BES has recognized that in order for a school to excel and sustain its excellence for generations of students, the leader must be highly prepared and continually developed. The BES Fellowship gives access to a team of qualified coaches and a network of like-minded colleagues, and pulls back the curtain on the practices of high-performing schools around the country. And, the program is doing all this with high fidelity on a national scale.”

Yutaka Tamura
2002 BES Fellow, Founder of Excel Academy Charter Schools, Boston, MA

Rebecca Francis

“The BES Fellowship was unlike anything I have ever experienced. The access to the expertise of founders and the leaders in my cohort, and the opportunity to study high-quality schools across the U.S., made it a truly invaluable experience.”

Rebecca Francis
2018 BES Fellow, Founder of Elevate Collegiate, Houston, TX

Mitch Flax

“The BES Fellowship raised my bar and sharpened my lens in preparation to open and lead our school. One of the most valuable experiences was being able to see leaders, teachers, and strong systems in schools across the U.S. work in concert to produce student learning and joy.”

Mitch Flax
2017 BES Fellow, Founder of Valence College Prep, New York, NY

Dr. Josh Pinto Taylor

“The two-year Community Co-Design Fellowship has given us the gift of more time to build a co-design team; to authentically engage the community; to include parents, students, and educators in our planning process; and to design a school that’s responsive to what we are hearing through the stories of young people and their families. There are not a lot of organizations that are invested in giving people the time and resources required to deeply engage with the community, to study effective school models, and to construct a comprehensive vision for school. The BES Fellowship gives us those resources.”

Josh Pinto Taylor, Ed.D.
2020 Community Co-Design Fellow, Founder of The Anchor School, Atlanta, GA

Shara Hegde

“The BES Fellowship helped me see everything that went into running an excellent school. When I was on the ground in my community, I knew exactly what I needed to do – the questions I needed to ask, the level of preparedness I needed to bring, and the level of work I needed to put into making a vision a reality. I’m grateful to have had an experience that showed me what it took to do the work successfully before actually doing the work.”

Shara Hegde
2008 BES Fellow, Chief Schools Officer, Alpha Public Schools, CA

Ignacio Prado

“Coming from the classroom and anchored in having a strong passion and vision in instruction and community building, I only know of one way to take the leap and learn the operational, technical, financial, and leadership skills to found an excellent school to match that vision: the BES Fellowship.”

Ignacio Prado
2015 BES Fellow, Founder and Executive Director, Futuro Academy, NV

Ben Samuels-Kalow

“The BES Fellowship showed me that while there is no one way to run an excellent school, all excellent schools start with a clear plan. I’m grateful for the ongoing coaching, practice, school visits, and residencies in BES schools, all of which remind me that everything is still possible for kids, even when the work is hard.”

Ben Samuels-Kalow
2017 BES Fellow, Founder and Head of School, Creo College Prep, NY

Nina Rees

“Developing leaders that can get charter schools off to a great start from day one is the best way to ensure students will achieve. No one does this better than BES. It is hard work, but critical to the success of the movement.”

Nina Rees
President & CEO, National Alliance for Public Charter Schools