Ignition Grant Program for Teams Planning Teacher-Powered Schools

Research shows that 78 percent of teachers think teacher-powered schools are a good idea and 58 percent of teachers are interested in taking steps to start a teacher-powered school. One of the goals of the Teacher-Powered Schools Initiative is to increase the number of teacher-powered schools. These interested groups of teachers are in need of resources to help bring these schools to life. Ignition Grants for teacher groups in the planning phase would enable these teachers to create better designed schools on a shorter time frame.

Starting or converting to a teacher-powered school is a challenging process. Navigating the local and state politics and education code, as well as creating a shared governance structure and learning program designed to better meet the needs of their students takes time, money, and professional development opportunities. The application process for charter or innovative district schools is intensive and requires teachers to put in many hours on top of their regular day job of teaching in a classroom. Many teachers are unable to move past the initial planning stages because of an absence of resources, support, and encouragement.

Teacher groups that have successfully started or converted to teacher-powered schools report that among the most helpful things in the planning stages were: release time to plan as a group and visiting other teacher-powered schools. Both of these require funding; money specifically used to cover substitute costs, travel expenses, and consistent release time for teachers on the planning team.

The purpose of these Ignition Grants is to help committed groups of teachers in the planning process of designing and implementing a teacher-powered school. Teachers will need to have formed a design team and have completed the Forming Stage of the Steps Guide. The Ignition Grant is used in the Storming Stage. While, these grants are not designed to be all encompassing or enough funding to complete the whole start-up process, they will jump start the process and empower teachers to create schools that better serve the students in their communities.

Teams applying for this grant can propose to use the grant for any or all of the following (but can also suggest their own uses):

  • Travel expenses for members of the team to visit a current teacher-powered school or conference
  • Release time (i.e. paying for substitute teachers) to plan as a group,
  • Child care for evening or weekend design sessions,
  • Space rental and food expenses for meetings,
  • Miscellaneous supplies and materials.

The deadline for application for the first round was on November 30th, 2016 with grantees announced on January 13, 2017. The first round of grantees will have between January 13, 2017 - August 15, 2017 to use their ignition grant. The deadline for application for the second round was on April 30, 2017 with grantees announced on June 16, 2017. The second round of grantees will have between June 16 - December 15, 2017 to use their ignition grant. Teams are not eligible for two grant cycles.

The deadline for application for the third round will be Fall, 2017. Date TBA soon.

Applications will be reviewed by a national team of teachers who currently teach in teacher-powered schools, have hands-on experiences on a design team and have completed the Forming Stage and Storming Stage as they developed their own schools. Questions about the ignition grant may be directed to

The Ignition Grants program is hosted by Avalon School, with a grant from Labrador Foundation and a donor-advised fund at the Saint Paul Foundation.

Ignition Grant Application Form