The BES Fellowship is for leaders who are ready to step up to the plate and build an excellent school.



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Through The Fellowship, high-capacity individuals deeply committed to transforming urban education embark on a four-year process to design, build, and operate an excellent charter school.


Fellows participate in 85+ training days in Boston and beyond, visit over 45 exemplar schools nationwide, complete two extended residencies at high-performing charter schools, write and submit their charter application, and build a founding board.

Upon completion of the training year, BES continues to work closely with leaders in Years Two through Four through Follow On Support, to ensure that schools start strong.


Leaders become strong project managers, develop leadership skills where they have gaps, gain content knowledge, hire their founding team, recruit their founding students, move from lead founder to school leader, and crystallize the vision for the school.


Leaders continue to build on their vision, welcome their inaugural class of students, become strong teacher coaches, use data to aggressively move academic results, manage and cultivate talent, and implement personal organization systems that allow them to effectively deliver on their core responsibilities.


Leaders champion and uphold their vision as the school doubles, sharpen the academic focus, manage talent in a competitive market, develop talent for future school growth, and manage their role to empower others.

Not quite ready for The Fellowship? Consider the Summer Leaders Internship.


The Fellowship selection process is extremely rigorous, designed to truly understand who you are as a leader and what that school inside of your head looks like.

BES Fellows represent a vast range of professional experience in such fields as education, business, nonprofit management, law, and public policy.

Classroom experience is not a prerequisite for participation in the program. However, most successful applicants have three or more years of experience in the classroom. Additionally, all successful applicants to The Fellowship have had at least two years of professional experience.

What all BES Fellows have in common is that they are steady leaders who are committed to transforming education in the communities they serve. BES leaders are:

  • strategic thinkers
  • visionaries
  • entrepreneurs
  • strong communicators
  • highly flexible
  • persistent
  • relentless achievers
  • demanding of themselves and others
  • always willing to learn
  • humble





Training Year

BES Fellows will:


  • Build and lead founding board of directors/ trustees
  • Write charter application based on school design observed in exemplar schools and the needs of the community
  • Submit charter application with board of directors
  • Mobilize community support for charter school

BES will provide:


  • 100+ days of practice-based training, leadership coaching, and professional development
  • 45+ school studies at exemplar schools nationwide
  • 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 of directors/ trustees
  • Transition from Fellow to school leader
  • Recruit staff and students through community outreach
  • Develop curriculum and assessments
  • Secure facility for startup years of school
  • Create 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


Foundational Year

BES Fellows will:


  • Welcome founding cohort of students
  • Lead staff, students, and families on the path to college and 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 through a school audit
  • Leadership development
  • Assessment and long-term curricular planning
  • Data analysis, action planning, and closing gaps


Operational Year

BES Fellows will:


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

BES will provide support on:


  • Staff retention and development
  • School culture, instruction, and operations through additional school audits
  • Assessment and long-term curricular planning
  • Development of leadership bench
Calendar Key


No. While experience and expertise in the classroom is common among successful Fellowship applicants, there is so much more involved in designing and building an excellent charter school. Building Excellent Schools seeks candidates who have depth of experience in a variety of areas including education, organizing, public policy, law, non-profit leadership, project management, and strategic planning. The Fellowship focuses on many areas that represent the three essential components of a school founding process: developing a practice-based educational program, building a founding board along with school support through community outreach and development, and founding a viable nonprofit organization. Deep knowledge in each of these three disciplines is helpful, but it is also rare. Successful Fellowship candidates typically have a breadth of experience in one discipline; the Fellowship’s curriculum provides training and support to build their capacity in the other two.

Find out if The Fellowship is for you.

No. For the current Fellowship, applicants must be interested in opening a high-performing charter school in one of the designated areas. If you are interested in an area outside of the listed regions, please fill out the form here to keep in touch.

No. The Fellowship only supports Fellows who are interested in launching charter schools in the United States.

Applying for The Fellowship is a five-step process that includes a phone call with a BES recruiter, an online application, a video interview, a series of phone interviews, and a final in-person interview. Learn more here.

Yes. Learn about the BES approach to leadership development through the Summer Leaders Internship. Attend an intensive on-site training in Boston followed by an eye-opening residency at a Fellow-founded charter school. At the end of the program, BES may extend Fellowship offers to qualified individuals.

Nominations are an excellent way for us to discover great candidates for The Fellowship. If the person you nominate successfully enrolls in the program, you’ll receive a generous finder’s fee. Nominate a Fellow here.

Yes, The Fellowship is a four-year commitment composed of a training year, a planning year, a foundational year, and an operational year. Fellows receive a stipend during their training year that allows them to focus on The Fellowship as their sole professional engagement to design and develop their school. Click here for more information.

No. The Fellowship is a national program that welcomes candidates from across the country. BES hosts Fellows in Boston for on-site trainings and school visits.

Fellows spend over 85 to 100 days training and studying schools across the country and in Boston. Fellows can spend up to 17 days per month outside of their territories. All BES Fellows spend ample time in their respective communities building essential local support. Click here to see The Fellowship calendar.

Both. The Fellowship incorporates a mix of independent and group work. Through independent work, each Fellow follows a tailored program that helps fill in the gaps in his or her own learning, skill set, or experience. As a group, Fellows pore over the curriculum, discuss and dissect ideas and themes, participate in trainings, and share their developing ideas and work.

Fellows complete month-long residencies at a high-performing charter school in the winter and the summer of The Fellowship training year. Residency sites are chosen based on the strength of their academic and organizational records, their relevance to a Fellow’s school design plans, and their ability to embrace the skills and experiences a newly trained Fellow can offer. Over the course of the residency, Fellows complete projects that speak to their individual needs and skill sets as well as their larger goal of developing an urban charter school of excellence.

By the end of The Fellowship training year, the Fellow has successfully built a board of directors/ trustees and submitted a charter application to the charter authorizer. Upon authorization of their charter, Fellows move into the planning year, during which they work to hire staff, secure a facility, build curriculum, and enroll students. Once a charter is approved, Fellows are eligible to apply for an external grant to support their work during the planning year. See the timeline for more information.

Upon completion of the training year, BES continues to work closely with leaders through Follow On Support, to ensure that schools start strong and stay strong. Follow On Support focuses on hands-on practical skills, strategic planning, fund development, board development, curriculum, evaluation, and much more.

Yes. BES provides lodging at no cost to Fellows during Boston-based training days and in the event of required travel/training outside of Massachusetts.

Fellows are not employees of BES and receive Form 1099 for the tax years in which The Fellowship training year falls.

Yes, Fellows receive a stipend from BES to pay for medical coverage during their training year.

“I am driven to create a school that will contribute positively to education in my community. Data-driven decision making, family and community partnerships, high standards, and a hard-work mindset will allow me to create an efficient, informed, connected, and dedicated school.”

Joseph Bolduc envisions a school that thoroughly prepares students for college by setting a high academic bar and supporting teachers, students, and the community. He knows that “for a school to be successful, all stakeholders must hold the unwavering belief that all scholars and adults can and will achieve at the highest level.”

Joseph’s work experience proves that he can successfully create such a school for Memphis. Aftering serving as a Teach For America corps member, he worked as a first and second grade teacher before joining the Democracy Prep team, where he held roles from grade level chair to Family Engagement Leadership Fellow (through the Flamboyan Foundation) to the Elementary Representative on the Culture Planning team. Following his time as a Leader U Resident, he became Assistant Campus Director of Democracy Prep Congress Heights.

Joseph holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

“As a Memphis native, I am a product of the public school system. In the eighth grade I had the opportunity to attend Phillips Exeter Academy on a scholarship for the summer. I realized the education I was receiving did not compare to the education other students were receiving. I want to change this for Memphis. Every child deserves the opportunity of a high-quality education.“

Lakenna Booker of Memphis, Tennessee is a highly motivated instructional leader with over ten years of experience as an educator.

Lakenna’s wealth of experience makes her particularly attuned to the needs and cultures of her students and their shared community. She earned a bachelor’s degree in biology from the University of Tennessee at Martin and a master’s degree in teaching with an emphasis in instruction, curriculum, and leadership from the University of Memphis. While working towards her master’s, Lakenna studied with the Memphis Content Literacy Academy, working to improve quality literacy integration into core subjects. With a desire to have a greater impact on the educational community, she obtained her Instructional Leadership License for the state of Tennessee from Christian Brothers University.

Following her experience at turnaround schools, Lakenna joined the founding staffs of both KIPP Memphis, as a teacher leader, and Gestalt Community Schools, as Dean of Instruction of Humes Preparatory Academy Middle and Nexus STEM Academy Middle. To further her impact, she published The 5Es of Inquiry Based Science for both students and teachers, and coaches fellow educators inside and outside of school. Moved from a young age by the inconsistency of education, Lakenna believes in the intentional and deliberate practice of data-driven decision making to accomplish student achievement goals.

As she works to found and lead a charter school for the community of Memphis, Tennessee, her mantra is simple: “Do what is best for students“

“Statistically, the odds have always been stacked against me. Statistically, the odds are still stacked against our young impoverished students. They are less likely than any other group to attend and graduate from college. They are also least likely to be instructed by experienced, high-quality teachers. This is resulting in a growing national income divide that is affecting millions of lives. I am driven to do this work because it is absolutely necessary and needs to be done immediately.”

Ruben Alonzo is committed to making excellent education accessible to all students as he sets out to found and lead a high-expectations charter school in Los Angeles, CA.

Ruben is a native of Crystal City, TX, located in one of the poorest counties in America. A third-generation migrant farmer, he worked throughout his childhood to help support his family, all while attending school and working toward his goal of attending college.

After completing his graduate degree in Massachusetts, Ruben relocated to Pharr, TX as a 2012 Teach For America Corps member. He was a founding teacher at IDEA Pharr College Preparatory School and has served in multiple roles ranging from grade team leader to content leader. In his first year of teaching, Ruben’s students achieved a 98 percent passing rate on their STAAR Algebra I EOC (compared to a 78 percent state average). He was then selected to serve as IDEA Pharr’s Assistant Principal of Instruction, where he coached and developed 14 teachers.

Ruben plans to maximize student learning and performance towards specific goals and is determined to build a team of adults who “get it right” so that they can provide students with the tools they need to succeed.

Ruben holds a B.S. in Economics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and an M.Ed. from both Harvard Graduate School of Education and Columbia University.



For the 2019 Fellowship, BES is seeking bold risk-takers to design, found, and lead schools in communities nationwide.


Across grades 3-8, just 30% of students in Springfield met or exceeded expectations in ELA and 24% met or exceeded expectations in math.
SPRINGFIELD NEEDS YOU. ~ See data source



“BES is the only leadership and school development training that functions like an incubator for charter schools destined to close the achievement gap. Through expert guidance, counseling and training leaders are imbued with purpose and tools to enact their desired outcomes.”

Hrag Hamalian
2007 BES Fellow, Executive Director, Valor Academy (part of Bright Star Schools)

“I don’t know where I or RePublic would be without BES. It continues to be the best school leader selection, training, and support organization in the country and is getting better every year. When I look at the map of jaw-droppingly awesome BES schools across the country, I am proud to be a member of this community.”

Ravi Gupta
2010 BES Fellow, Co-Founder and CEO, RePublic Schools

“When I began crafting Classical Charter Schools, my vision was to build a first-class educational experience for kids who deserve it. The Building Excellent Schools Fellowship provided me with the critical knowledge and experience to make that vision more crisp, actionable, and attainable. The entire program revolves around seeing and learning the best practices in charter school creation and leadership. While The Fellowship lasts one year, the lessons continue to prove useful to me, over 10 years later. There is no other such program at this quality level.”

Lester Long
2004 BES Fellow, Founder and Executive Director, Classical Charter Schools

“The BES team really modeled for us what leaders should look like. They constantly reminded us of the expectation and the schools that came from this expectation. All the leaders who are just entering The Fellowship, will walk away with those high expectations instilled in them.”

Rosalind Murphy
2013 BES Fellow, Founder and Head of School, RISE Preparatory

“If there is one organization that has done the most to seed underserved communities across the country with distinctive, homegrown schools characterized by excellence and high expectations, it’s BES. Their work is a gift and their schools have consistently been the source of key insights and improvements that make all schools better.”

Doug Lemov
Author of 'Teach Like a Champion' and 'Practice Perfect'

“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