More than 15 years ago, NCEE was approached by representatives of several leading foundations asking if they would design a new leadership development program for school principals. These foundations had different education reform agendas, but they all recognized that none of them could achieve their objectives unless American schools had much more capable school leaders driving change. The Carnegie Corporation of New York, the Stupski Foundation, the New Schools Venture Fund, the Broad Foundation and NCEE contributed more than $11 million dollars to research and develop what became the NISL program.
Business leaders understand the critical impact of an educated workforce on their success and the success of the economy as a whole. In 2013, the Business Roundtable (BRT), the leading association of CEOs of major U.S. companies, undertook a rigorous process to identify the best available education programs to improve U.S. education. The process selected programs based on the strength of their impact on student achievement, capacity for scalability, and alignment with rigorous college- and career-ready standards. Nearly 100 organizations applied. NISL was selected as one of only five programs that the BRT would recommend as meeting their standards for philanthropic investment.
Today, private and corporate foundations such as the Tracy Family Foundation are improving the quality of school leadership through NISL, and in doing so are improving instruction and student learning across entire districts and regions.
Beginning in 2017, the Rhode Island Department of Education and the Partnership for Rhode Island (consisting of ten businesses) are providing funding to implement NISL within the state.