The Southern Education Foundation’s Racial Equity Leadership Network (RELN) is an 18-Month fellowship for executive-level school district leaders committed to addressing historical disparities in their systems and working toward educational equity for every student.

Interested candidates should review the application instructions with their intended in-district design team before applying.


Watch our 2023 prospective fellows webinar to hear from program alumni, learn more about the benefits of the RELN fellowship and how to apply, and get answers to your questions in real time:

Candidates selected for inclusion in the Racial Equity Leadership Network may vary in the size of the district they lead, demographic composition, budget size, geographic location, and in the types of equity challenges they identify. Our selection will be foremost guided by the districts’ and candidates’ ability to demonstrate a true need and willingness to seek equity-centered systemic change and their commitment to be a consistent participant and contributor to the Racial Equity Leadership Network. Ultimately, the Racial Equity Leadership Network will come to be reflective of the racially and economically diverse communities that constitute our southern region & beyond.

Candidates must:

  • Be an executive leader (i.e., Superintendent, Deputy Superintendent, Chief Academic Officer) in a school district within the South that is committed to reducing inequities in their districts and exhibit readiness to implement innovative, transformational change in their system. Special consideration may be given to candidates from states outside the South on a case-by-case basis.
  • Be available for and committed to attending and fully participating in all five (5) two-and-a-half-day Network Convenings.
  • Identify and support the involvement of an in-district design team inclusive of 3-5 members. This can be an existing team if applicable. This team will be responsible for identifying a racial equity challenge that exists within their district and designing and implementing strategies to advance progress on it. We encourage district leaders to be thoughtful of the capacity of design team members as active participation will be a core expectation of each member. Candidates will be asked to provide a rationale for the composition of their team and to describe how they plan to ensure the necessary capacity and opportunities for learning for their team to fully engage in the Network. We strongly recommend including at least one member of your cabinet-level team (i.e. Chief Academic Officer, Deputy Superintendent) to promote support and consistency.

*Convening foci are continually developed and are subject to change

Have questions about the fellowship? See our FAQ for answers to general questions. For additional assistance, please forward all inquiries to our RELN Program Coordination Team at