Early Childhood Policy Fellowship

Program At a Glance

Early Childhood Policy Fellowship

For over 100 years, Bank Street College of Education has been a leader in early childhood education, a pioneer in improving the quality of classroom practice, and a national advocate for children and their families. Bank Street was integral to the formation of Head Start and recently established Learning Starts At Birth (LSAB), an initiative focused on investing in the early childhood workforce. 

Drawing from our experience, Bank Street is in the second year of recruiting for its Early Childhood Policy Fellowship, which is tailored to the needs and interests of participants and includes: 

  • A 3-day in-person kickoff in New York City (travel expenses covered)
  • Monthly full-day virtual convenings that connect research, policy, and practice 
  • Cohort-based learning with a network of peers
  • Coaching support to help fellows reflect on their leadership and support the completion of a capstone project
  • A $500 stipend to support the costs of participation
  • Participants

    Bank Street seeks early childhood policy and systems leaders at the federal, state, county, and city levels, including administrators in state early childhood agencies. Given our commitment to inclusion, equity, and representation, the selection process will prioritize those who have been historically excluded from policy leadership positions, especially leaders of Color including those who identify as Black, Indigenous, Asian, Latinx, Pacific Islanders, and other People of Color. 

    Qualified candidates must: 

    • Demonstrate a commitment to designing high-quality equitable early childhood education systems
    • Have the full support of their supervisor and organization’s leadership to participate, including  approval for the scope of the capstone project, endorsement of their experience and leadership, and time commitment for participation in the fellowship—including during working hours. Reference calls will be made for finalist candidates.
  • Capstone Project

    Capstone projects will serve as an anchor for learning, enabling fellows to apply new skills and knowledge from the fellowship to their work in real time. Each applicant will propose a project grounded in existing or new work that will leverage their current role to drive sustainable systems-level change. Fellows are encouraged to design capstone projects that are within their sphere of influence and are not limited to the examples below.

    Example Capstone Projects

    • Operationalizing equity in QRIS systems: A fellow will examine their state’s current QRIS system to make recommendations to inform how to operationalize equity across each tier. Over the course of the year, the fellow will complete an impact analysis of the current QRIS system by (1) examining the current QRIS system to identify equity gaps and opportunities; (2) conducting an analysis of research centered on equity in QRIS; and (3) reviewing other states QRIS and/or continuous quality improvement policies to identify current realities of the system, intended outcomes, challenges, and accomplishments. This will culminate in a report detailing recommendations for equitable QRIS reform for state leadership teams that could include specific shifts in funding, workforce equity, equity in workforce preparation and development, high-quality curriculum and pedagogy, global classroom quality measurement, harsh discipline, equity for children with disabilities, linguistic equity for multilingual learners, family engagement, or data-driven continuous equitable quality improvement.
    • Recommendations to strengthen the workforce: A fellow will examine a current workforce issue—such as the workforce deficit—to identify ways to close the workforce gap(s). Over the course of the year, the fellow will (1) complete a landscape analysis of the current state of the early childhood education workforce in their respective state or context; (2) conduct a literature review around the workforce deficit in early childhood education (2) identify trends and patterns creating and/or reinforcing the deficit; and (3) review the current state of the workforce in their respective state. This will culminate in an action plan to address the workforce deficit for workforce leadership teams, which may include addressing one or more of the following: equitable pay parity, teacher preparation programs, the development of and/or strengthening apprenticeship programs, and career pathways.
  • Commitments

    We commit to providing fellows with: 

    • Responsive programming that meets their needs both in content and delivery
    • A community and network of other leaders dedicated to advancing high-quality equitable systems change
    • Time and space to reflect and grow professionally
    • Coaching and programming with relevant experts in the field 

    Fellows commit to:

    • 10 months in the fellowship (September 2023 – June 2024) 
    • Active engagement and participation in all programming, pre-work, and assignments, including an in-person kickoff
    • Collaborating with peers, coaches, and advisors to complete the capstone project
  • Timeline & Info Sessions


    Event Date/Time Link
    Applications open March 15 N/A
    Information Session March 31 at 10:00 AM ET Register
    Information Session April 10 at 4:00 PM ET Register
    Information Session April 24 at 12:00 PM ET Register
    Information Session May 3 at 3:00 PM ET Register
    Applications due May 15 N/A
    Decisions announced August 1 N/A
    First Convening September 27-29 (in-person; New York City) N/A


    Date Format
    September 27-29 In-person (New York City; expenses paid)
    October 20 Remote
    November 17 Remote
    December 15 Remote
    January 19 Remote
    February 16 Remote
    March 15 Remote
    April 19 Remote
    May 17 Remote
    June 11, 12, 13 Remote (capstone presentation)
  • Apply Now

    To complete the application, you will need to upload your resume, organizational chart (or related document), a letter of support from your supervisor, and your capstone project proposal via a Word or PDF document. Altogether, this should take you no more than one hour to complete. 

    Please complete the application below by May 15, 2023. After reviewing applications, we will reach out to conduct interviews and reference checks. Selected applicants will be notified of their acceptance over the summer.

    Apply Now Download Capstone Project Template (Word) Download Supervisor Endorsement Form (Word)

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Who should apply?
    • Applicants should have at least 5-8 years of leadership and professional experience in early childhood policy or related work, with experience managing an initiative, program, or team. Candidates must be responsible for making policy/program recommendations and will propose a capstone project that is within their current sphere of influence. Profiles of our current cohort of fellows can be found here
    • Applicants must demonstrate a commitment to advancing high-quality equitable early care and education systems through their current and/or prior roles and work experiences.
    • At this time, this fellowship is not intended for advocates, consultants, or doctoral fellows.
  • Can I apply if I am not a leader of Color?

    Yes, this fellowship is designed to support all early childhood systems leaders. Applicants with a demonstrated commitment to advancing high-quality early childhood systems are welcome to apply.  Given our commitment to inclusion, equity, and representation, the selection process will prioritize those who have been historically excluded from policy leadership positions, especially leaders of Color, including those who identify as Black, Indigenous, Asian, Latinx, Pacific Islanders, and other People of Color.

  • How do you define “early childhood” systems?

    The fellowship is open to leaders in any part of the early childhood ecosystem, including child care, pre-K, Head Start, home visiting, Early Intervention and Part B, family services, health, and mental health support. Capstone projects do not need to align with the Learning Starts At Birth team’s agenda, but we will prioritize aligned projects. To learn more about Learning Starts At Birth, read our commitments and publications.

  • Do fellows need approval from their supervisors?

    Yes, fellows will need approval from their supervisors to participate in the fellowship and to endorse and champion their capstone project. The application requires a formal letter of support that must be signed by the supervisor. A supervisor reference call will be made for finalists.

  • Do fellows get course credit for participating?

    While a certificate of completion will be provided for fellows who successfully complete the program, this fellowship does not culminate in a degree or provide course credit. Instead, it is designed to deepen leaders’ existing leadership and policy skills and strengthen their impact within their current organization.

  • What is the time commitment for a fellow?
    • Fellows will spend approximately 2-3 hours each month preparing for each monthly convening and coaching session, and should plan to devote a full workday monthly to attend virtual convenings. Coaching will occur for 1 hour each month and can be scheduled flexibly. The time to plan and implement the capstone project will depend on the nature of the work, but is designed as a job-embedded initiative so should not extend beyond fellows’ existing workday/commitments.
    • All fellows are also required to attend a 3-day in-person convening in New York City in September
  • When will the virtual convenings occur?

    The virtual sessions (October – May) will occur on the third Friday of each month from 11:30 AM – 4:30 PM Eastern Time. Fellows  should plan with their supervisors so that they can dedicate the whole day to the fellowship, as there will be asynchronous work outside of the Zoom session. Capstone projects will be presented virtually on June 11, 12, and 13. Fellows will determine the day of their presentation in the spring.

  • What is the stipend for?

    The $500 stipend will be provided to all fellows in addition to the expenses covered for the in-person convening. It may be used to cover any costs associated with participation (i.e., transportation, food, etc.).

  • How will I receive support for my capstone project?

    Coaches will provide ongoing support to fellows throughout the year as they apply learning from the program to their work and capstone project. Fellows will also be assigned an accountability partner (a peer fellow) to meet with regularly as a thought partner.

  • What is Bank Street's experience with leadership development and policy?

    This is the second year that Bank Street has operated this fellowship. Its curriculum draws on Bank Street’s experience supporting adult learners through our Graduate School’s leadership program as well as professional learning partnerships in the Bank Street Education Center. Bank Street’s faculty bring extensive expertise in human development and leadership while the Education Center staff bring experience in state and local systems. The fellowship often brings in experts in the field to speak with fellows during the sessions.

  • Is the fellowship open to international applicants?

    At this time, the Early Childhood Policy Fellowship is only accepting applications from leaders in the United States.

Toddler giving baby doll a bottle

Discover More About Learning Starts At Birth

Bank Street’s Learning Starts At Birth team is focused on investing in early childhood educators and leaders to bring equitable, high-quality early care experiences to all children and families.
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