Strategic Initiatives

Influence 100

In 2019, only 4% of Massachusetts school superintendents were people of color, while 40% of the students served by public school districts were people of color. In the fall of 2019 in partnership with the Leadership Academy, DESE launched Influence 100 to increase the racial and ethnic diversity of superintendents in Massachusetts, create more culturally responsive districts and leaders across the Commonwealth, and promote better outcomes for students. Since the program's inception, the number of superintendents of color has steadily increased to over 5% in 2021.

Program Overview

Districts select rising leaders to participate in a 2-year fellowship to prepare for superintendent roles through monthly training and ongoing support in the key aspects of the superintendency, with a particular focus on equity.

Districts and school committees with participating fellows agree to participate in professional development and technical assistance with DESE to enhance their strategic planning for equity.

Application Process

Applications for new districts interested in joining Cohort 4 of Influence 100 will reopen in May 2022. The Department will select up to 15 districts and 25 fellows for Cohort 4, which will join the network of 27 districts and collaboratives and 61 fellows in the first three Cohorts. Selected districts will identify up to two staff members to participate in the fellowship program, with guidance and criteria provided by DESE. This is a no-cost opportunity to districts. If selected, participating fellows receive a small stipend from DESE.

2019 Cohort

The first cohort comprises 26 fellows from 15 districts. 92% are people of color, 42% are current principals, and 58% are central office leaders.

2020 Cohort

The second cohort comprises 20 fellows from 12 districts. 80% are people of color, 40% are current principals/assistant principals, and 60% are central office leaders.

2021 Cohort

The third cohort comprises 20 fellows from 12 districts. 75% are people of color, 50% are current principals/ assistant principals, and 50% are central office leaders.

  • SY2021-2022 Influence 100 Fellow Bios (at time of selection) — coming soon

Program Highlights

  • 92% of Cohort 1 fellows completed the program in June 2021.
  • 25% of Cohort 1 fellows were promoted during their two-year fellowship period. One fellow was promoted to Superintendent. Two fellows were promoted to Assistant Superintendent.

Program Impact

Key findings from a third-party evaluation of the first two years of the Influence 100 Program include:

  • Cohort 1 fellows reported positive program impacts on their equity mindset, their sense of personal efficacy as equity-focused leaders, their knowledge and understanding of the superintendent role, and their connection to their peers in the program.
  • By the end of the first year of the program, Cohort 1 districts (on average) increased the number of equity-focused practices they developed or changed.



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Last Updated: September 3, 2021

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Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
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