Empower Schools is a national nonprofit that partners with educators and communities to build sustainable solutions for students and schools. Since 2018, Empower Schools has worked at the state, district, network, and campus level to transform outcomes for Texas students. As an Executive Advisor team through the Texas Education Agency’s System of Great Schools, they advise district leadership teams providing high-quality, best-fit options for every child in the district. In partnership with local leaders and educators, Empower Schools has launched and/or supported nine autonomous SB1882 partnership networks leading 29 campuses across ten districts: Transformation Waco in Waco, TX; Rural Schools Innovation Zone in Premont, Freer, and Brooks County, TX; Lubbock Partnership Network in Lubbock, TX; the Leadership Academy Network (in partnership with Texas Wesleyan University) in Fort Worth, TX; East Texas Advanced Academies in Longview, TX; Third Future Schools in Ector County and Midland, TX; and School Innovation Collaborative and Public School Partners in Benavides, TX. These networks serve more than 14,000 students across the state.
The Thoma Foundation’s two-year, $200,000 grant will support two activities:
- The LeadRural Fellowship, an opportunity to catalyze rural leaders who are seeking to bring innovation to their communities, learn new ideas, and connect and network with other leaders across the state and country. In partnership with Steady State Impact Strategies, the LeadRural Fellowship will bring rural leaders together through a series of 6 formal, in-person learning opportunities during the 2022-2023 school year. Fellows will learn in a cohort model from each other and additionally have opportunities to meet experts in the field knowledgeable about school funding, CCMR/postsecondary outcomes, CTE pathways, labor market analyses, partnerships with higher education, and human capital strategies to catalyze change in their communities.
- Technical assistance for another rural schools collaborative in Texas, similar to the Rural Schools Innovation Zone.