Scaling Up Institute

Bigger. Better. Faster.

Since 2000, IDEA Public Schools has grown from a small school with 150 students to the fastest-growing network of tuition-free, K-12 public charter schools in the United States. By 2022, IDEA will operate 173 schools in 13 regions educating over 100,000 students on their road to and through college. We know that we would not be where we are today without the help and support of those who came before us. Today, we pay it forward by sharing the practices that allow IDEA to achieve its ambitious goals.The Scaling Up Institute is an experiential professional development program designed to accelerate the impact of organizations committed to education reform. The six-month program convenes cohorts of 5-6 executive teams at three in-person workshops centered around an Action Learning Project (ALP) – a transformative, mission critical initiative that increases student outcomes. At IDEA, the ALP model has launched over 75 initiatives in the last 7 years, and at the Institute, executive teams will identify an Action Learning Project, develop the management skills needed to lead the initiative, and receive ongoing implementation support in the form of peer feedback and weekly coaching calls with a member of IDEA’s senior leadership team.

Scaling Up Institute Cohort

Collegiate Academies

Benjamin Marcovitz, CEO
New Orleans, LA

Benjamin Marcovitz is the founder of Sci Academy and the chief executive officer of Collegiate Academies. He began the design of Sci Academy in 2007 during his participation in New Schools for New Orleans’ incubation program for high-impact charter school founders. Today, Collegiate Academies operates three high schools in New Orleans and serves 1,336 students. In addition to his work at Collegiate Academies, Ben serves on the faculty of Leading Educators, and presents on organizational leadership with Future Leaders in the United Kingdom, as well as the Newark Charter School Fund and various charter networks in New Orleans and nationally. In 2013, he was one of three principals to receive the inaugural Ryan Award from the Accelerate Institute in Chicago, which honors principals who have demonstrated accelerated results in underserved school environments over the last three years. 


Oliver Sicat, CEO
Los Angeles, CA

Oliver was named the 2006 Teacher of the Year in the Boston Public Schools. Shortly after, he moved to Chicago to help start the expansion of the Noble Network of Charter Schools and founded UIC College Prep, the #1 non­-selective high school in Chicago. He was then appointed onto the executive cabinet as Chicago Public School’s first Chief Portfolio Officer where he led the city’s strategic efforts of opening new schools, closing low performing schools and converting the district to operate as a portfolio of schools.  Oliver attended the University of Southern California and the Harvard Graduate School of Education.  As Chief Executive Officer of Ednovate, Oliver is responsible for overall leadership of the organization and the continuous development of our student centered instructional model. Outside of work Oliver loves running, golf, reading, outdoor concerts, quality time with loved ones and searching for the world’s best nachos.

Friendship Public Charter School

Patricia Brantley, CEO
Washington, D.C.

Patricia A. Brantley, the CEO of Friendship Public Charter School, is an education reformer, charter school advocate and supporter of the right of all children to receive a high-quality education. Brantley served with the founding planners of the charter school nearly two decades ago when she joined with others under the leadership of Donald L. Hense to create better opportunities for the children of the District of Columbia.

During her tenure as COO at Brantley became Friendship’s, she engineered the acquisition and development of six public charter school campuses in Washington, D.C., four partner schools in Baltimore, Md., and a new charter school in Baton Rouge, La. Ms. Brantley also served in corporate and nonprofit leadership positions, including as founder of the Partnership for Academic Achievement; chief development officer and adviser to Dr. Dorothy Irene Height at the National Council of Negro Women; executive director of the Dance Institute of Washington; and national marketing manager for the Black Family Reunion Celebration. Ms. Brantley is a graduate of Princeton University and a board member of the D.C. Association of Chartered Public Schools.

Green Dot Public Schools

Chad Soleo, Interim CEO
Los Angeles, CA

Chad Soleo serves as the Interim Chief Executive Officer at Green Dot Public Schools. He has also served as the Chief Operating Officer, Vice President of Advancement, an Area Superintendent, prior to which he was the founding principal of Ánimo Pat Brown Charter High School, and an assistant principal at Locke. Ánimo Pat Brown became a California Distinguished High School under his leadership. Chad began his career as an English language arts teacher at Alain Leroy Locke High School through Teach for America. At Locke, Chad ran a college preparatory program that lead to a significant increase in college awareness and graduation rates, while pursuing his graduate degree in Secondary Education at Loyola Marymount University. Chad has also taught within the charter school leadership cohort for Loyola Marymount University’s School of Education administrative credentialing program, and has lead professional development in Los Angeles Unified School District, within the Southern California AVID community, and within the Teach for America organization.


Alicia Johnson, President & COO and Jim Manly, Superintendent
New York, NY

Alicia Johnson is the President of KIPP NYC. She first joined KIPP NYC as the Director of Operations at KIPP Through College (KTC) in 2007 and served as the Managing Director of College Services at KTC and the Managing Director for Data and Operations before becoming the Chief Operating Officer in March 2015. Prior to her work at KIPP NYC, Alicia worked at Wellspring Consulting and the National League of Cities.

Jim Manly serves as Superintendent of KIPP NYC, a network of 11 public charter schools in New York committed to helping students from underserved communities succeed in college and lead choice-filled lives. Jim came to KIPP NYC in 2015 with 30 years of experience in K-12 education. He previously worked with the national KIPP Foundation as the Senior Director of Instructional Leadership at the Teaching & Learning Labs with KIPP Co-Founder, Dave Levin. From 2007 to 2014, Jim was the Founding Principal of Success Academy Harlem 2 Elementary, which became the top performing school, public or private, in Harlem District 5. He has an additional ten years of leadership experience as Principal of Manhattan Charter School, Assistant Director of Teaneck Community Charter School, and Executive Director of Teach for America in Washington, DC. Before entering educational leadership, Jim was a New York City public school teacher, earning Teacher of the Year in 1998 at M.S. 321X.

Phalen Leadership Academies

Earl Martin Phalen, CEO
Indianapolis, IN

Earl Martin Phalen is a nationally recognized education leader with a track record of successful leadership and innovation. He joined the Kauffman Foundation as a Trustee in March 2016.Phalen is the founder and CEO of Summer Advantage, a summer reading program that partners with school districts to provide quality summer learning programs for children in grades K-8, and the George and Veronica Phalen Leadership Academies, a network of K-8 blended learning charter schools. Phalen began his career in education while a law student at Harvard, where he founded Building Educated Leaders for Life, which operates after-school and summer education programs in several major U.S. cities. Under his leadership, the organization grew from a local community service project to a national non-profit educating 15,000 children annually.

Institute Details & Eligibility

● The Institute is primarily designed to serve charter school operators looking to expand to additional sites and/or regions but welcomes nonprofit organizations and public entities working to expand opportunities for economically disadvantaged children and communities. IDEA is committed to diversity, equity and inclusion and especially encourages leaders from underrepresented communities to apply.

● Participating executive teams will convene for three, 3-day workshops over the course of a six-month period. Each executive team will be assigned an IDEA senior leader as a coach and connect on a weekly basis.

● During the Institute, executive teams will:
     ○ Reflect deeply on their leadership,
     ○ Learn effective management structures and apply them to their own organization,
     ○ Launch a strategic initiative that identifies and develops long-term solutions to key
        challenges impacting the organization, and
     ○ Strengthen executive team effectiveness and cohesion.

● There is no programmatic cost; however, participating organizations are responsible for covering the
cost of and arranging travel for Institute workshops.

● CEO and executive team participation is required for the Institute and all participating leaders commit to attending all three 3-day workshops:

Workshop 1   

January 16-18, 2019 (arrive evening of the 15th) 

Austin, TX

Workshop 2 

March 26-29, 2019 (arrive evening of the 25th) 

San Antonio, TX

Workshop 3 

June 19-21, 2019 (arrive evening of the 18th) 

Weslaco, TX (Rio Grande Valley)


The 2019 application can be accessed below and must be submitted on or before October 31, 2018. Applications will be reviewed as they are received and teams will be granted admission on a rolling basis. To secure your team’s spot, early submission is strongly recommended. For further questions regarding the Scaling Up Institute, please contact