Leverage Leadership Institute

Training leaders with a proven track record of success in their local districts to achieve excellence in the levers of leadership, and teach others to do the same.

Relay instructor teaching workshop and interacting with students.

Program Participants

LLI is for high performing principals and principal managers who serve in traditional school districts and charter management organizations from all over the world. This is a selective program; we look for leaders who are in the top 10% of schools in their local district or state and have led student outcomes to double-digit gains. We seek leaders who are motivated to drive to excellence in execution of the levers of leadership and in teaching others to do the same. Learn more about our past cohorts:

Program Focus

The Leverage Leadership Institute prepares great leaders to become extraordinary. Participants will have the unique opportunity to deepen their skills in instructional leadership levers as identified in Leverage Leadership 2.0 (Bambrick-Santoyo, 2018). Together, the cohort will dive deeply into topics such as observation and feedback, data driven instruction, lesson planning, and leading school culture across a network of schools. This program will provide passionate, effective leaders with the tools to achieve even larger-scale impact for children and schools around the world.

Program Experience

The Leverage Leadership Institute is a one-year fellowship program consisting of a 2-day orientation, a week-long summer intensive, and four 2-3 day intersessions throughout the year. Participants will benefit from:

  • Expert faculty: Learn from experienced practitioners with demonstrated success in the field, including Paul Bambrick-Santoyo and Kathleen Sullivan. 
  • Regular feedback: Receive one-on-one coaching with Paul Bambrick-Santoyo, Kathleen Sullivan, and other expert faculty via regular video assessment.
  • A network of peers: Join a close-knit international community of 25 high-performing leaders in your own cohort, and hundreds in past cohorts.
  • Access to resources: Access to and opportunity to impact all content available to Relay Leader Programs participants.
  • Opportunities for impact: Earn the distinction of Leverage Leadership Proof Point or Instructor, and potentially join the LLI faculty to teach the LLI approach to instructional and cultural leadership around the world.

About Partnership

What makes a great partnership? Learn about more about what kind of organizations we work with and how we support them in Supporting Conditions and Infrastructure.

Or, look for answers to any general questions you may have on our FAQs page.

The information listed on this tab reflects School Year 2023-24 programming. This page will be updated by December 4, 2023 for School Year 2024-25 programs. The below is still a good representation of the program; some details may change.

All programming is in person. Intersessions are located in major US cities where LLI Platinum Leaders are doing their work.

Summer Intensive

May 18-19, 2023

2 days | In-person (Location TBD)

Topic: Welcome to the fellowship; Leading professional development

June 12-16, 2023

5 days | In-person (Denver, CO)

Topic: Leading student culture, observation and feedback, data-driven instruction, intensive practice


Oct. 2023
Dec. 2023
Feb. 2024
Mar. 2024

2-3 days per intersession | In-person (Locations TBD)

Program Cost

We offer this highly-selective program tuition-free and only ask participants (or sponsoring organizations) to cover the cost of travel to/from sessions. At all in-person trainings and convenings,  Relay provides all hotel accommodations as well as breakfast, lunch and snacks.

Excellence in Execution

Video Submissions and Practice

First, you must “walk the walk” and show mastery of execution in your school(s). You will focus on developing mastery in specific levers of leadership, such as using data to drive instruction, leading adult professional development, delivering effective observation and feedback,  and creating positive school-wide culture.

You will film yourself implementing these practices in your home school(s) and will submit your videos and evidence of authentic implementation as assignments for feedback. During class sessions, you will analyze and discuss effective practices demonstrated by peers in your cohort. You will also receive individualized feedback and practice implementing that feedback to improve your practice. In between class sessions, you will receive coaching from LLI leaders and be paired with partners in the cohort to get additional practice providing and implementing feedback. Throughout the program, you will work to deeply implement the levers in your school(s) and earn consistently excellent ratings on the rubric(s) in order to achieve distinction.

During the fellowship, you will gain access to frameworks, cheat sheets, presentations, and other supporting materials that will help you further develop mastery across the levers.

“Leverage Leadership was an amazing experience. I have new friendships that I know will last a lifetime. Putting myself all-in and being vulnerable raised the bar for the work I do with my leaders... It was so worth it.”

— Jessica Haight, Leverage Leadership Institute ‘18

Excellence in Execution

Developing your Skills as a Leverage Leadership Instructor

Over the course of the fellowship, you will observe strong faculty in action, identify elements of outstanding adult learning, and work to develop your own, authentic, adult learning skills. If you are successful in presenting the levers of leadership and coaching others to develop their skills, you will become an approved Leverage Leadership Instructor. Through your work training principals, greater numbers of students and communities across the country will have the opportunity to benefit from highly effective school leadership.

Leverage Leadership Instructors will join a tightly-knit community of outstanding leaders who will receive ongoing development, support, and access to leading-edge changes in best practice leadership curriculum.

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I know I would not be the leader I am today if I did not have the opportunity to be part of the wonderful community of scholars and mentors in the Relay Graduate School of Education.

—Celeste Douglas, District Superintendent, NYC DOE

Anetra Cheatham's Story

Anetra Cheatham

“Anyone who has engaged in the work of school turnaround knows its complexity. Our team's participation in the Relay programming was impactful because of how it helped us to prioritize our efforts and give consideration to the key moves we should make around change management. The clarity of the protocols removed so many questions and barriers to the tasks ahead while also serving as a roadmap to achieving our goals. Leverage Leadership Institute then took my practice to a whole new level as I was able to learn and grow from the expertise of practitioners with proven results. I am the leader my system needs me to be because of the Relay Leadership Programs.”

—Anetra Cheatham, Chief Innovation Officer, Beaumont ISD, Beaumont, TX

Colin Smith
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What I remember most is how our [cohort] listened to each other. And how much people really took what others had said or done and put that in their own toolkit.

Colin Smith, Country manager, One World Network of Schools

Step 1

First, if your district does not already have a partnership with Relay Leadership Programs, share and discuss this opportunity with your district/network leadership to ensure their support of your application. See admissions criteria below for more information and direct any questions related to eligibility to the Managing Director of the Leverage Leadership Institute, Kathleen Sullivan at ksullivan@relay.edu

Step 2

Next, complete the Relay admissions application, which includes education and employment information. You'll also need to provide these materials: 

  • Resume
  • Short essay
  • Unofficial transcript
  • Student results

Apply Now

The Application for the 2023-2024 LLI Fellowship is now closed. Please reach out to Lindsay Mirchin-Robinson (lmirchin-robinson@relay.edu) with any questions.

Apply now
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Admissions Criteria

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The Leverage Leadership Institute is a selective fellowship opportunity for 25 leaders each year who are in the top 10% of schools in their local district or state and have led student outcomes and opportunities to double-digit gains.

The fellowship is for current principals and principal supervisors who are already familiar with the levers of leadership, have implemented them in their school(s), and have demonstrated strong results. It is open to school leaders of all types of schools in all regions who meet the criteria.

Unofficial transcripts and evidence of student results are required as part of the application. Please begin working on compiling your student achievement outcomes and requesting your unofficial transcript as soon as possible, as these can be the most time-consuming part of the application process.

Nominations received from superintendents, current LLI fellows or alumni, and Relay GSE will be given strong consideration for this program. Nominations should be sent to ksullivan@relay.edu.

Student Results Guidelines

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Student achievement data that is uploaded should demonstrate at a minimum:

  • Evidence that your school (or the schools you manage) are in the top 10% of your local district or state


  • Evidence that you (or the schools you manage) had double-digit gains in relation to the statewide or district-wide average gains/loss in the last one to three years. (During COVID, most schools/districts/states saw drops in achievement. You should look to show gains/drops that are better than your district/state/comparative schools.)

NOTE: Admissions decisions favor evidence of a trend of positive student impact over multiple years.

Get to Know Leverage Leadership

If you’re new to Leverage Leadership, are familiar but want a bite-sized training, or would like to learn about Leverage Leadership with your whole team, our workshops are a great option.

These one-day experiences are open to all, held virtually or in-person, and are facilitated by Leverage Leadership Fellows - a select group of public school leaders with a proven track record of results. They cover the fundamentals of the Leverage Leadership model created by Paul Bambrick-Santoyo (explored in books liked Leverage Leadership and Get Better Faster), covering topics such as leading an equity-centered culture, weekly data meetings, observation and feedback, and leading planning meetings.

Partnering with Relay

Learn more about how to partner, including important application dates and how we support you.

Bring LLI to You

Interested in bringing the LLI approach to your organization? You can book an LLI-trained facilitator to lead a day-long workshop for your staff.