The Tiny Fellowship supports people with bold ideas for schools, educational programs and services, and edtech tools. The Tiny Fellowship is designed to take you from an idea with early stage validation to a proof point. As a fellow, you’ll get access to coaching from experts, a $10,000 grant, and a community of peers, all pushing you to build your organization by running disciplined tests.
The fellowship is part-time and includes virtual and in-person programming that supports you no matter where you live. Best of all, you don’t have to quit your day job to participate. In fact, we welcome part-timers — we don’t think worrying about your next meal will help you think big. By the end of the Tiny Fellowship, you’ll have piloted your idea and collected evidence that it works, people want it, and that you can build a sustainable path forward.
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Tiny Sprint (online course): August 6-September 1
Camp for Fellows in New Orleans: September 15-17
Minimum of one required monthly coaching call with a paired coach for the duration of the Fellowship
Graduate from the Fellowship on a flexible timeline
between 4-12 months.
Application Opens: April 17
Webinar #1: April 25
Webinar #2: May 8
Application Closes: May 14, 11:59pm CST
Interviews: May 29-June 16
Selection Announced: June 23
Tiny is great for teams who have started working on their idea, but are still in the early stages. It may be a good fit for you if the people experiencing the problem you’ve identified have tried the solution you’ve built and given you feedback. Sound too far along for where you’re at? Take a look at the Essentials Fellowship.
We work with founders launching different types of ideas. These include for-profits, non-profits, schools (anything from pre-k to high school), programs, services, and tech tools. Our goal is that 50% of the teams we serve are school builders.
Being a successful founder means taking tough feedback on your idea from your users. We look for founders who are obsessed with the problem they’re trying to solve, but flexible about what’s the best way to solve it.
# of states Tiny Fellows are from
% of Tiny Fellows are women
% of Tiny Fellows are People of Color
% goal for Tiny Fellows building schools
Tiny Fellowship coaching is designed to be responsive to your needs by being flexible and self-paced. You’ll have access to on-demand virtual coaching from a paired coach, the 4.0 team, and a bench of experts we’ve assembled, along with virtual programming that develops you as a founder. When you complete the Fellowship, we’ll support you as an alumni to move forward with your idea.
We believe the best use of money at the earliest stages is to test your ideas. As a fellow, you’ll receive a $10,000 grant that you can use to build your idea and run pilots with your users. We’ll push you to design tests that help you learn quickly about your idea’s potential. Specifically, we want you to quickly validate that it works, your users want it, and that there is potential for financial sustainability.
We believe ideas grow stronger and faster in community. You’ll be part of a cohort of up to 30 founders building schools, educational programs, and edtech tools. You’ll come together in person at the beginning of the fellowship and we’ll organize peer-learning groups for you to learn from one another. As a Fellow, you’ll have access to our national community of over 500 alumni and be invited to alumni-only experiences like the annual 4.0 Community Summit.
We push every founder in the Tiny Fellowship to run a small-scale pilot of their school, tool, or program in order to complete the fellowship. Whether this is a paid beta of your edtech software, a month-long version of your school, or something in-between, we expect you to have worked with real users before you finish the program. Specifically, to graduate from the program, you have to submit data from your pilots and share what you’ve learned. This doesn’t guarantee the viability of your idea or prove its efficacy, but it’s a good early indicator that your idea may have enough legs to build a sustainable organization. We believe the data you collect from a pilot provides more credibility than any program ever could.
As an adult I have seen the ways in which gardening is a metaphor for life. When My wife asked about my Tiny school builders experience I used a gardening reference. In order to grow new crops you have to completely till the soil. My knowledge about being a school builder was that used soil. Through the amazing feedback and support of my Tiny family I have fertilized and prepared that soil for new growth. Building a school is like a prize fight and I have the best coaches in my corner.
I applied to Tiny because I was excited to get support from area experts around pushing my idea to the next level. Thus far, I loved ‘sprint’ [Tiny’s ‘mini-MBA’] – we worked through 4 of the most important topics in starting a business, including negotiations and time management. It really helped kickstart my process. I also love being able to reach out to coaches when ever I have a question. Joining Tiny is exciting because it gives you the chance to join a team of entrepreneurs all working on cool, exciting things that make change in education.
We know that BridgeYear would not be where it is today without the Tiny Fellowship. We’ve loved being immersed in a community of people who “get it” – who believe that education can and must get so much better and who believe that we as entrepreneurs have distinct and important roles to play in making that change. The amount of support has simply been amazing. Tiny coaches and peers simultaneously challenge us to think critically about our forward strategy while also remaining some of the most encouraging and energizing people for our work!
Want to learn more about the Tiny Fellowship and hear stories from our founders? Check out our blog.
Founder & ED
Christine is a Harvard GSE grad and a practiced entrepreneur coach. She’s an expert in prototyping and human-centered design, especially when applied to building schools and education programs. She has the unique perspective on education that you can expect from Tiny Coaches.
Mickey successfully founded a multi-million dollar business and is currently building a Birmingham-based K-12 education incubator. He has the practical wisdom of a seasoned entrepreneur that you’ll have access to as a Fellow.
Director of Development
Nicole is a former teacher and founder, an expert on philanthropy, and a strategic advisor to Ed entrepreneurs across the country. She has the targeted expertise you can expect from Tiny Coaches.
To put it simply, we believe big ideas start small, with tiny tests. “I actually haven’t been calling it the Tiny Fellowship,” Nate, founder of STEMhero and one of our first wave of Tiny Fellows, lamented to to us during Camp, the Fellowship’s opening weekend. “I’ve just been calling it the 4.0 Fellowship. I mean, it’s not like the opportunity is tiny.”
This was flattering and disappointing at the same time. Tiny has always been about this dissonance; at the right time, a small investment can be fundamental in shaping a nascent idea. This is especially true in education, where capital and support structures are focused on ’scaling what works.’ The ideas, and the brave folks who bring them to light, were always meant to have a big impact.
Ultimately, if you’re committed to building something that betters K-12 education in the U.S. for students and families, go ahead and apply. That said, here’s a glimpse at our hunch about the future of school – this hunch is informing our priorities as we invest. You can see the rubric we use for applicants here.
Nope! That would be silly. We have the internet!
It’s flexible. You apply to graduate when you’re ready, but we expect most founders will complete the program in between 4-12 months.
Basically, we ask you to opt-in to the supports you need (we advise you) at the beginning of the program. The specifics will change, but here’s the syllabus from Wave Two of the program.
At a minimum, you’ll have a coaching session once a month and with an entrepreneur advisor to keep you on track and help you work through challenges you face.
You can find more FAQs here.