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NWAIS Fellowship for Collaborative Innovation

Join a Team Selected To Explore A Critical Question Impacting NWAIS Schools

Applications Open January 14 – March 4, 2019

Apply Here

NWAIS invites you to imagine the future of Independent Schools through a design experience with an interdisciplinary group of colleagues. Fellows apply and are selected to explore a topic over the course of a year and then disseminate their learning to the rest of the NWAIS community.

Guiding Question: How Might We Explore the Potential of Independent Schools' Public Purpose?

NWAIS is exploring how we can help our schools deepen their work around defining, living and assessing the impact of independent schools’ public purpose. While we as a region (and beyond) have struggled to find a shared interpretation of this phrase, we would like the fellowship team to go further than simply developing a common definition of public purpose. We challenge the team to assess the landscape of the different interpretations, create a product to help schools move forward in their understanding, their programming, and their impact.

To accomplish this exciting and perhaps daunting task Fellows will be teamed with a group of other big thinkers in the community to utilize a design-thinking approach.

Not Sure Where To Start? Here Are Some Resources for Starting to Exploring Public Purpose

We are actively looking to create a diverse team in terms of individuals and skills sets. Faculty, administrators and staff are all encouraged to apply.

Congratulations for the 2018-19 Team of Fellowship Awardees:

Jennifer Davenport, Art Teacher

Saint George’s School

John Harnetiaux, Director of Outdoor Education

Catlin Gabel School

Michael Hyde, STEAM and Maker Integrator

Portland Jewish Academy

Roberta Renton, Director of Business Operations

Seattle Girls’ School

Joe Romano, Faculty / Librarian / Innovative Projects Coordinator

Annie Wright Schools

Explore the Drop Down Menu Below for More Information


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 7, 2019: Application open

March 4, 2019: Application deadline

May 2019: Fellows will be announced

August 2018: First disbursement of funds ($1,000 each)

October 10, 2019: Kick off retreat

October 2019 - September 2020: 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 2020: Second disbursement of funds ($1,000 each)

Fall 2020: Presentation at an NWAIS event such as Fall Educators Conference or Fall Heads Meeting.


In the first three years of the fellowship, teams applied as a group and one was selected to explore a topic of their choosing over the course of a year and then disseminate their learning to the rest of the NWAIS community.

More recently the fellowship has shifted to individual applicants who are selected to join an interdisciplinary group of five colleagues.

Applications for 2019-20 will open January 7, 2019 and are due March 4, 2019



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 on October 10, 2019 for 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 2019). 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.

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