Empower Schools

Empower Schools partners with communities to help them get the schools they want with the results students need. We believe that schools and communities thrive when educators are empowered and held accountable for making key decisions at the school level that are best for students. We work with district and community leaders, educators, state education agencies, and funders to align interests and develop sustainable pathways for change. Our organization has developed Empowerment Zones that create locally driven solutions that combine school autonomy, accountability, and support to empower schools to provide an excellent education to their students. In addition, we support districts in launching systems and structures that support and sustain autonomous schools and ensure they have the necessary conditions to thrive.

Empower School’s work is informed by our on-the-ground experience as the design and launch partner of several public school improvement and innovation efforts across the country. To date, we have supported the design and launch of 14 district partnerships, serving more than 29,000 students across 48 schools. Click here for additional information about Empower Schools and the zones we’ve helped to launch.

Whether working with a large, urban school district like Denver Public Schools or a small, rural district like the Benavides Independent School District in rural South Texas, Empower pairs flexibility and a desire to customize its support to local needs with core commitments to equity, sustainability of efforts, empowering educators, and improving the educational experience for students.

Empower Schools does not directly operate zones or campuses or provide direct coaching to school-based teams. Rather, we provide strategic and technical support and connect the district and operating partner with subject-matter experts as needed throughout the process of zone design and launch. Our team ensures that the partnership has the enabling conditions – the strategy, governance structure, legal agreements, operational plans, and team – to bring the ambitious and innovative zone plan to life. We also ensure that the district has the associated policies and capacity to authorize, support, and evaluate partnership networks over time, ultimately offering excellent educational opportunities to students.

Across schools in the zones that Empower has supported to launch educators teams (including zone leadership, school leaders, and teachers) have the following autonomies:

  • Educator teams control an increased share of per-pupil revenue and have the autonomy to make spending decisions in service of their students
  • Educator teams have the flexibility to hire new staff of their choosing, determine staffing structures, and create new roles that meet the needs of their school
  • Educator teams can adopt new and different curricular programs and, using their budget autonomy, can decide how and who will support them in curriculum adoption and instructional improvement
  • Educator teams can design schedules and school calendars that meet the needs of their students and teachers - allowing for increased teacher collaboration and professional development, as well as additional time for intervention and enrichment programming
  • Educator teams have the flexibility to design a school culture that is aligned with their priorities and with student needs. Schools can adopt programming or support structures of their choosing