Why School Leaders

Our schools have made great progress, but inequities persist.

Public schools in Duval County have made great strides, but we have more work to do to ensure every student has access to a high-quality public school.

Great schools can only exist with great leaders. Effective principals are more likely to retain high quality teachers, and they are also more likely to dismiss poorly performing teachers. According to a national study conducted by Stanford University, students in schools with high-performing Principals will have between two to seven months of additional learning gains. There are virtually no cases of a school being turned around without a powerful leader. While there are numerous factors that contribute to successfully turning around a school, strong leadership is clearly the catalyst. 

This is the reason for the JPEF School Leadership Initiative.



Based on national research on the most effective areas for principal growth, the Jacksonville Public Education Fund has established the following four Founders Fellowships:

The Fellowships address each of these four growth areas, and they provide executive coaching and grants for these Principals as well. Each Fellowship will provide support for the entirety of our Initiative. 

In Fall 2020, JPEF announced the first cohort of School Leader Founders Fellows, who will receive support for three years. "Great student outcomes come from a positive interaction of outstanding instruction and outstanding leadership,” said Dr. Diana Greene, Duval County Public Schools Superintendent. “My gratitude goes to JPEF and to all of those investing in this initiative. I am also very proud of our leaders selected for this program. By investing in leaders, this is the kind of partnership that can be transformative for schools now and in the future.”

Meet the 2020 School Leadership Fellows!


The School Leadership Initiative serves Title I Elementary School Principals of both traditional and charter schools in Duval County. Elementary schools make up 52% of schools in Duval County and serve 43% of students. Elementary schools also provide foundational knowledge, ensuring students are prepared to succeed in middle and high schools.

The socioeconomic status of a school is the greatest predictor of student achievement. Schools with a Title I designation, indicating they have a higher concentration of low-income students, are not consistently performing at the level of their non-Title I peers. Since 2014, the number of low-income Duval County Public Schools (DCPS) students has increased by 12%. 

More than half of DCPS students are considered low-income. As you can see below, school grades show the disparity in performance between Title I elementary schools and non-Title I elementary schools in Duval County.


What are the goals of the School Leadership Initiative?

  • Increase student learning gains by strengthening the quality of school leadership in economically challenged schools.
  • Provide research on national best practices regarding  principal effectiveness to develop strategic approaches with district leadership.
  • Engage business and community leaders to provide broad support to School Leaders for leadership challenges.

The School Leadership Initiative

The School Leadership Initiative is a school-based and systems approach, designed to transform good Principals into phenomenal Principals.

School Leader Summer Residency Experience

Launched Summer 2020 

  • Provide a yearly Summer Residency focused on leadership, beginning Summer 2020, for up to 30 Title I Elementary School Principals.
  • Select 12 participants to continue in a three-year Founders Fellowship with executive coaching and grant funding. 

Learn more about the 2022 School Leader Summer Residency Experience





of public schools in Duval County earned an "A," "B," or "C" in 2021-2022.