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The Closing the Achievement Gap: Strategies for Excellence with Equity Institute provides you the opportunity to learn how to raise achievement levels for all students by increasing teacher, student and family engagement. Return to your school or district with a concrete strategy to engage key stakeholders in striving for excellence with equity. The 2019 session dates are 6/28/19-7/3/19.

By the end of the program you will:

  • Understand theoretical and practical frameworks for approaching the challenge of closing racial, ethnic and socioeconomic achievement gaps.
  • Examine instructional leadership techniques to improve teacher engagement with students who do not perform to their potential.
  • Explore how to mobilize students to effectively improve levels of peer support for achievement among all learners.
  • Learn how to effectively involve parents and families in raising student achievement.
  • Consider how to engage your community in public discourse about achievement gaps, mapping against an external standard to help push all student groups ahead.

For a detailed explanation of the program visit the Harvard website. NOTE: Applicants who apply directly to The Principals’ Center, Harvard Graduate School of Education will not be eligible for funding from Raise Your Hand Texas. Raise Your Hand Texas applicants must complete this application below and do not need to complete an additional application to The Principal’s Center on the Harvard website.

Application and selection is a five-step process:
  1. Online Application: Applicants must submit an application, answer essay questions, and submit their resume by 12 p.m. on Monday, January 7, 2019.
  2. Application Review and Interview Selection: Applications will be reviewed and interview finalists selected by Friday, March 15, 2019.
  3. Interview Process: Interview finalists are required to participate in a virtual/video interview process that begins Monday, March 18, 2019.
  4. Final Cohort Selection: All selected finalists will be notified by Friday, April 26, 2019.
  5. Attendee Confirmation: Attendees must submit a signed Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) by Friday, May 17, 2019.


Raise Your Hand Texas is sponsoring campus leadership teams serving Texas public schools to attend the Closing the Achievement Gap: Strategies for Excellence with Equity Institute. Sponsorship includes tuition, airfare, hotel accommodations, and a stipend.

Application Instructions

The campus principal will function as the team leader. The team leader is responsible for starting the team application and serving as the primary point of contact for the team.

  1. There are three tasks that teams must complete to submit their application.
    • Team Leaders need to create a login and password to begin the team application. Team members will be included in the process at Task 2.
    • After logging into your account, select the first task in the application labeled, “Closing the Achievement Gap Team Application”.
    • Fill out all the necessary fields, and select “MARK AS COMPLETE” to move on to the essay questions.
  2. Team Leaders must answer both essay questions individually before moving on to the next stage of the application process.
  3. Once the Team Leader has submitted their essays, select Task 2 of the application labeled “Invite Team Members to Submit Individual Essays”.
  4. Team Leaders need to add each team member to the application by selecting the “Request a Recommendation” button, and filling out the contact information prompt. NOTE: Recommenders are defined as team members.
  5. Team members will receive an email notification with a link to create their application login, and submit their essays. NOTE: You will not be able to edit your essay after it is submitted.
  6. Each team member needs to submit their own essay. It is the Team Leader’s job to ensure that all team members complete their essays before the application deadline.
  7. Once everyone has submitted their essays, the Team Leader must select the “MARK AS COMPLETE” button, and move to the final stage of the application.
  8. Team Leaders must upload a copy of their resume to Task 3, and select “MARK AS COMPLETE” button.
  9. When all three tasks are complete, select the “REVIEW & SUBMIT” button.
  10. If everything looks correct, select the “SUBMIT YOUR APPLICATION” button.

If your team is selected, the team leader is responsible for getting signatures and submitting the team’s MOU.

Preview and print the Memorandum of Agreement (MOU) here: 2019 Memorandum of Agreement

Eligibility & Team Makeup

Applicants must be part of campus leadership teams at a Texas public school. Team leaders must be the campus principal. A change in principal after your team is selected will result in forfeiture of your team’s sponsorship. Applicants sponsored by Raise Your Hand Texas to participate in the Harvard Leadership Program in 2018 are NOT eligible to apply for sponsorship in 2019. Those sponsored in any previous year (2008-2017) ARE eligible to apply. If you previously attended The Principals’ Center at the Harvard Graduate School of Education through an organization other than Raise Your Hand Texas, you may apply.

Campus leadership teams (comprised of up to 5 individuals) must include:

  1. The principal (acts as team leader)
  2. At least one teacher leader, defined as a classroom teacher that serves in a formal or informal instructional leadership role. A full-time instructional coach does not qualify as a teacher leader.
  3. The principal supervisor or other district-level staff responsible for supporting the campus.

The remaining two spots may be filled by assistant principals, school counselors, instructional coaches, a local Education Service Center turnaround team member, the campus’ professional service provider (PSP) or other staff essential to your continuous improvement efforts.

Expectations of Attendees

If selected for the Raise Your Hand Texas Leadership Program, we ask that participants:

Before Harvard

  • Identify a campus-level and individual problem of practice
  • Develop goals for summer learning
  • Communicate with Raise Your Hand Texas on program deadlines, travel, and other logistics
  • Submit campus plans to Raise Your Hand Texas
  • Sign a memorandum of understanding (MOU) certifying that you agree to the terms of the partnership

During Harvard

  • Attend all classes at Harvard during selected course
  • Participate in all Harvard activities and complete all assignments
  • Participate in all Raise Your Hand Texas events


  • Construct and submit a prospectus to Raise Your Hand Texas explaining your plan for applying your summer learning to the addressing your problem of practice
  • Submit related campus documents as requested
  • Make revisions to your plan and keep Raise Your Hand Texas updated on progress throughout the year
  • Attend the 2020 Raise Your Hand Texas Leadership Symposium
  • Grant Raise Your Hand Texas access to your campus data for internal program evaluation
  • Attend at least one Raise Your Hand Texas alumni site visit
  • Volunteer to host a Raise Your Hand Texas site visit

Key Dates

JAN. 7

Application deadline for summer 2019 Harvard Institutes – 12:00 p.m. CST.

MAR. 15

Finalists are notified they are accepted for an interview.

MAR. 18

Final interviews begin.

APR. 26

Final selections are complete and applicants are informed.

MAY 17

Finalists confirm participation.

JUN 28 – July 3

Closing the Achievement Gap: Strategies for Excellence with Equity Institute