We are committed to...
  • encouraging diverse points of view.
  • continuous reflection and on-going improvement.
  • collegial relationships and ethical leadership.
  • independent education options for families.
  • promoting the independence of our schools.
  • quality standards without standardization.
  • assisting schools in fulfilling their missions.

NWAIS Fellowship for Collaborative Innovation:

Exploring Critical Questions Impacting NWAIS Schools

For each of the last seven years, NWAIS invited a small group to take a deep dive into a question critical to the future of Independent Schools. Teams applied, were selected and explored their question through a design experience with an interdisciplinary group of colleagues.

Previous Fellowship Overviews:

2014-15 - Makerspace Labs

2015-16 - Instructional Coaches

2016-17 - Emerging Leaders Cohort R&D

2017-18 - Intentional Innovation Toolkit

2018-19 - MicroPD: Podcasts and Discussion Guide

2019-20 and 2020-21 - Exploring Public Purpose

Fellows were charged with investigating their topic topic over the course of a year and then disseminating their learning to the rest of the NWAIS community.

Outcomes and resources from the various projects are housed on the microsite linked below.

Click Here To Explore the Resources and Products They Have Created

In addition to the library of tools and resources housed in the microsite, there were several other outcomes that have continued to reverberate through the NWAIS Community. Other outcomes have included:

  • A Multi-School Maker Fair
  • A Instructional Coach Round Table to Support Collegiality and Shared Resources
  • Background and Research to Help Launch the emerging Leaders Cohort (now on its 3rd cohort)

and more!

Thank you to all of the NWAIS Fellows for Collaborative Innovation for the wealth of resources you have created for member schools.


Applicants must be employed at NWAIS schools (more than .75 FTE)

Team members may be teachers, administrators or staff

Each applicant also needs the endorsement of their Head of School as well as a recommendation from a colleague. Your Head of School can provide both your endorsement and your recommendation if you like.

Members of teams who have previously applied are welcome to reapply

Time Line

January: Application open

March: Application deadline

May: Fellows will be announced

August: First disbursement of funds ($1,000 each)

October: Kick off retreat

October - September: Project Development, Research and Compilation of Findings: Meetings throughout the year will be designed and carried out independently by the team. They will have access to video meeting platforms, and may choose to meet in person as well. The awards should be used to cover the costs of meetings during the year.

June: Second disbursement of funds ($1,000 each)

Fall: Presentation at an NWAIS event such as Fall Educators Conference or Fall Heads Meeting.


Applications open in January and are due in March for teams that will begin the following year. Applications Are Now Open.

They Must be Completed in One Session. The longer form questions are below in case you would like to prepare answers in advance:

  • Share Brief Biography / Professional History
  • Please briefly describe how your background would contribute to the richness of the team
  • Please briefly describe how your skills would contribute to the team's success
  • Why is an exploration of public purpose interesting and exciting to you
  • Share some of your hopes for the work of the fellowship team's work in this area.

Apply Here



The team will design a product that will make their learning visible to NWAIS and its member schools and help them navigate the issue in the future. We hope that the group will have a chance to present their ideas in a workshop or presentation as well, but the product must be something that can be referred back to over time and shared among our schools. It can be physical or digital.

Examples of products might include:

  • Report exploring the variety of current interpretations, applications and impact of Public Purpose in NWAIS Schools
  • Website exploring the national landscape of independent schools work around public purpose
  • Framework, continuum or model for how schools can assess their work around public purpose and set goals for the future development
  • Toolkit for schools to use as they consider public purpose in their strategic planning
  • Infographic which schools could use to communicate with the various stakeholders who may have varying levels of comfort with directing resources toward programs around public purpose
  • Collection of NWAIS public purpose program exemplars, and the stories of their launch and development

Recommendation and Endorsement

Recommendation & Endorsement

Each applicant also needs the endorsement of their Head of School as well as a recommendation from a colleague. The endorsements is a very brief form where the head of school acknowledges and supports the applicant in their participation. The recommendation is an opportunity for a fuller reflection of the applicant. If you choose, your head of school can serve both roles.

1) Recommendation Form

2) Endorsement Form

These must be received by the application deadline.


Retreat: The group will gather in person in October for the kick-off retreat, with a facilitator to develop the group into a team, grow skills around design thinking and start the designing process. Fellows will leave with a clear picture of their design questions, a work plan for the year, and a vision for their project product. The costs for programming will be covered by NWAIS.



Each fellow will be awarded $2,000 to contribute to the expenses of the project and to compensate team members for their time and work. The first disbursement of $1,000 will be made at the time of the award (August). The second disbursement of $1,000 will be made, in the same way, at the time the product is submitted. Award funds may be used to pay or reimburse team members for project related expenses, such as materials and meetings. It is also expected that a portion of the budget will be for stipends for the team. Typical expenses might include: travel, meeting expenses, conference registrations, research expenses, production of the team's product, substitute expenses, materials, etc. The cost of the retreat will be covered by NWAIS directly and will not need to be funded through the awards.

Each team member will need to submit a w9 form to receive his or her disbursement. Team members will be responsible for any tax-related implication of receiving the award.

  • Guiding
  • Inspiring
  • Advancing
Northwest Association of Independent Schools
5001 California Ave. SW, Suite 112
Seattle, Washington 98136
T: 206.323.6137 • info@nwais.org
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