Spotlight on Our Partner Organizations: AppleTree Institute

Jack McCarthy, President and CEO of the DC-based AppleTree Institute for Education Innovation and AppleTree Early Learning Public Charter School, shares his thoughts on how a partnership with Princeton AlumniCorps has contributed to his organization.


AppleTree Institute for Education Innovation has seen tremendous impact from both the Princeton Project 55 Fellowship Program and Emerging Leaders. The Project 55 fellowships have given us access to a pipeline of bright, mission-driven talent that has increased our capacity, especially in communications. Schuyler Softy ’11, our first Project 55 fellow, has a background in grassroots politics, and with her support we completed foundational communication tasks such as building message maps, unifying our language, updating our materials, and engaging in social media.

Schuyler was instrumental in producing DC LINKs, a series of events AppleTree held with PNC Bank, Fight for Children, and the Washington Area Women’s Foundation that served as a forum to highlight our award-winning Every Child Ready instructional model. This innovative model is featured in Gaston Caperton and Richard Whitmire’s new book, The Achievable Dream: College Board Lessons on Creating Great Schools and in an upcoming issue of the American School Board Journal. This year, we welcomed Sara Wallace ’12, who has a background in journalism. We especially appreciate her ability to generate compelling content that effectively tells the AppleTree story.

AlumniCorps’ Emerging Leaders program has also left its mark on AppleTree’s leadership team, including Chief of Research and Innovation Lydia Carlis. As a participant in the program’s inaugural year, Lydia explored how she could proactively strengthen organizational alignment and improve stakeholder support for management decisions. By forming an “All Hands” committee consisting of members of AppleTree’s executive, senior, and middle management, Lydia was able to improve the sharing of information and diverse perspectives on key initiatives within the AppleTree community. The project’s benefits extended deep into the organization, and Lydia received positive feedback from colleagues who appreciated the opportunity to be heard and work with AppleTree staff members outside of their usual focus areas. Lydia commented, “I learned that I could be honest without being ‘brutally honest’ and still feel authentic.”


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