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Community changes from within: Moonshot’s new Innovation Space

Moonshot has led six cohorts of 100 historically marginalized leaders and leaders of color through the Moonshot Fellowship, launching over 40 innovative learning environments since 2017.

But times are different now than when Moonshot first started; there are mounting challenges around charter authorization, pandemic impacts on mental health and sustainability, philanthropic divestment from education and DEI, and weakening talent pipelines for education leaders, including recruitment and retention.

The Moonshot team took the last year to pause its programming and brainstorm what the future could look like to serve more leaders and deepen the impact on youth most on the margins in Colorado. They worked with several alumni of the Moonshot Fellowship to create a Fellowship Redesign Squad where leaders analyzed and reviewed six cohorts of data, feedback, and learnings and reimagined what the program could be for new leaders in a new landscape.

“The fellowship redesign is the culmination of years of learning, Fellow feedback, and the understanding that education doesn’t exist in a vacuum,” said Justin Teneyck, Program Director at Moonshot.

“How do we cultivate enriching and liberation-focused programming that challenges Fellows to source community issues and co-create holistic solutions with their communities? And how do we support their ongoing professional and personal well-being and their community’s long-term sustainability? We’re excited about how this undertaking has transformed into our new Moonshot Innovation Space,”

The revisioning group was grounded in a social justice framework, leaning on culturally responsive research from leading scholars and practitioners, and used six years’ worth of data from previous fellowship cohorts.

“It’s rare to find spaces where people are trying to ideate alongside you for good,” says Cohort 2 Fellow and Redesign Squad participant, Alejandro Fuentes. “There is something about joining a community of individuals where you can be vulnerable to talk about your experiences so others can share their experiences that actually breeds hope.

“What’s beautiful about this redesign is that it allows it to be an incubator in a different sense where you are not tied down by a specific thing that needs to be created, it can exist in more of the nuances of the world that we live in.”

The Moonshot Innovation Space invites more leaders from more fields to make a lasting impact with youth in the community. It’s a nine-month program for leaders in Colorado who are working in youth-serving spaces, such as education, healthcare, local government, environment/sustainability, housing, food, the arts, and more. While Moonshot Fellows typically live in the Metro Denver area, the Moonshot Innovation Space is expanding to other areas in Colorado and candidates who live outside of the Metro area, especially those in rural areas in Colorado, are encouraged to apply. Applications are open until April 14.

While the program’s previous iteration focused solely on launchers–those who are looking to launch a new organization or school, the program is now also open to those who want to create new solutions within existing organizations. These may look like learning environments in programs or schools, products or services like apps or curricula, or new initiatives at the organizational, local, or state level.

“One of the aspects of our redesigned fellowship that I’m most proud of is the way we’re constantly evolving our own thinking to ensure we practice what we preach at Moonshot,” said Daranee Teng, Managing Director, Strategy & Impact at Moonshot.

“Instead of beginning solely with an individual person’s idea that is then brought to the community for input, we’ve flipped that approach around and are sourcing needs directly from communities from the start. This creates a strong foundation for Moonshot Fellows to become deeply grounded in the problem the community has identified before they begin the process of co-designing solutions.”

Fellows will be supported every step of the way, from ideation and planning, to operational and logistics, to team support and piloting. They will also participate in weekly workshops and get hands-on learning and individualized coaching, along with an inspiring values-aligned community.

Profiles of those who should apply:

  • Launchers: individuals seeking to design and launch new school or program models.
  • Catalyzers: individuals seeking to design and implement solutions within existing organizations.
  • Organizers: individuals seeking to design and implement solutions through community organizing and advocacy efforts.
  • Inventors: individuals seeking to design and implement resources that impact youth.

Interested candidates can get more information and application details here.

Additionally, and to add to the excitement, Moonshot was recently awarded a $1 million grant from MacKenzie Scott’s Yield Giving Open Call, which will support the next evolution of Moonshot’s programming and its inaugural cohort of the Moonshot Innovation Space.

The $1 million gift will go towards piloting and scaling new strategies to potentially share nationally with other organizations and ensure Moonshot can continue to support its 100 Fellow network and 40 Fellow-launched organizations with coaching, funding, and connections to ensure their sustainability as well.

For more information about the Moonshot Innovation Space or if you or someone you know may be interested in their work, please learn more and apply at