Blog: The Educated Reporter

Study: Education Field a Boon For Young Professionals, Especially Minorities

A new report found that young professionals who come from minority backgrounds are more likely to find leadership roles in the education sector than in consulting groups, law firms, corporations and other private sector employers.

The findings were published by Education Pioneers, a nonprofit organization that places professionals in education leadership roles. The group, which is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, came out with the report to highlight its efforts in bringing more diversity to education groups that support schools.

Young professionals in general are more likely to take on leadership roles in the education space. According to the report, nearly a quarter of recent alumni landed an education management position while 12 percent of their private sector peers had a management role. The gap is even wider for young professionals of color, where one in five obtains positions in education, compared with one in 25 elsewhere.   

“We’re proud of our alumni. These high-performing professionals have made an immediate impact on education organizations seeking to develop more effective policies and systems to support educators and achieve increased learning in tight economic times,” said Scott Morgan, founder and CEO of Education Pioneers, in a statement. ”We hope this report raises awareness about the potential for the sector to continue to use this talent and sets the stage to address the need for more leaders and managers in the years to come.”

More than two-thirds of the fellows who have gone through Education Pioneers and were polled in the report have continued their careers in education. Forty percent work in school-operating organizations, such as those charged with managing a turnaround school, and nearly a third in education support services. Another 15 percent work in government, public policy and advocacy. The group has awarded 1,600 fellowships since 2003 and 1,300 of those fellows participated in the report.

Education Pioneers is part of a growing patchwork of philanthropic-backed organizations like Teach for America, the Broad Academy and The New Teacher Project (TNTP). Education Pioneers receives money from The Broad Foundation, The Michael & Susan Dell Foundation, The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and MetLife Foundation.

Fellows are young professionals with expertise in finance, strategy, marketing and operations, among other specialties. For one program, Education Pioneers recruits current and former graduate school students who have at least two years of work experience and places them in 10-week or yearlong fellowships at various  such as the Houston Independent School District and NewSchools Venture Fund. The 10-week program comes with a $7,000 stipend, while yearlong fellows earn between $60,000 and $80,000. Another 10-month program exists for analysts who have at least a bachelor’s degree and two years of work experience. Employers who receive the fellows cover the pay. Roughly three-tenths of Education Pioneer graduates are black or Hispanic.

The fellowship positions are competitive. Education Pioneers has received 17,000 applications for 2,000 openings since 2008.

Leadership disparities in public education continue to exist. For example, just 4 percent of school district superintendents in the U.S. are black or Hispanic, even though those minority groups represent 40 percent of the nation’s public school students.