Empowerment Zones

What is an Empowerment Zone?

Empowerment Zones are a partnership with a district that sustainably provides a cohort of Zone schools with wide autonomy and strong accountability under innovative governance. Zone schools remain part of the district, yet operate under a different structure and system that sustains and protects that autonomy over time, supports existing schools to take advantage of their newfound freedoms and selectively adds new talent and leadership where needed.


What is an Empowered School?

An Empowered school looks the same as the traditional school – same building, same district, same students, and it works with existing leaders and educators in the building – but operates with a key difference -meaningful and protected school-level autonomy.

With autonomy over budget, staffing, schedule, curriculum, and culture, leaders and educators at the school-level can create an environment tailor-made for the needs of their unique set of students.

Schools are the Units of Success

There are now ten zones across five states serving more than 22,000 students.


“I worked at a charter school for years and as a traditional public school principal and now to have this third way model, it has been a real game changer. I think we’re leading the state and the nation in this kind of work.”

Springfield School Leader

“It’s the innovation that educators are crying out for. We are highlighting the art of teaching and it empowers teachers to fall in love with teaching again. I truly know that I’m affecting real change, not only in my classroom but in the whole school. That kind of autonomy and investment creates an environment where everybody is engaged.”

Springfield Educator

“As leaders of innovation schools, we already had the ability to make our own choices around the curriculum, length of school day, and staffing at our campuses. But some of us concluded that by joining forces as an independent network, we could do even more.“

Denver School Leader

“This is not a top-down model. This is a side-to-side model, and that’s why this works…. I don’t know how I was a principal before empowerment … This is the future of education – it’s the way it should be everywhere.”

Springfield School Leader