Spotlight FAQs

General Information

What is the Spotlight on Quality in Continuous Improvement?

Spotlight on Quality in Continuous Improvement is a program designed to elevate clear and compelling examples of the rigorous application of improvement principles, methods, and tools to solve some of the most persistent problems in education. The Spotlight program provides education organizations and improvement networks with the opportunity to learn about excellence in continuous improvement, to assess their own progress, and to be recognized for their proven quality practices.

Each Spotlight honoree will present their work in a webinar as part of the Carnegie Foundation Spotlight on Quality in Continuous Improvement Webinar Series scheduled for January/February 2021, as well as in a session at the April 25–27 Carnegie Summit on Improvement in Education in San Diego, CA.

Who should apply?

The following enterprises are eligible to apply:

  • School Districts, Local or State Education Agencies, and Charter Management Organizations. These enterprises run or manage schools and use improvement methods and tools to make significant progress on a well-specified aim.
  • Improvement Networks. These enterprises are made up of individuals, teams, or organizations working together to make significant progress on a shared improvement aim. They may be operated by a variety of different entities including intermediary organizations or some federation of schools and/or districts.
  • Professional/Technical Assistance Organizations. These enterprises support the efforts of educational organizations in making progress on specified aims while also applying improvement methods and tools on their own practices to improve the support they provide to the schools and/or districts.

We recognize that this work takes time and that evidence of student outcome improvements may lag behind other measures. Nonetheless, if you cannot yet point to clear student level outcome improvements, we encourage you to wait and apply when you do have that evidence.

NOTE: “Student level outcomes” refers to more than just test scores. These outcomes should also be appropriate to your aims, such as (but not limited to) changes in literacy levels, ELL classification, chronic absenteeism, FAFSA completion.

Of particular interest are applicants that have used quality improvement approaches to attack longstanding disparities grounded in race/ethnicity or income and advance ambitious student learning goals through school and educational attainment.

For each spotlighted group, this is a remarkable opportunity to:

  • Be publicized nationally as leaders in the field of education improvement
  • Inspire others to take up these continuous improvement approaches with similar rigor
  • Learn from and develop colleagueship with other Spotlight honorees
  • Be featured in a webinar as part of the new Spotlight on Quality in Continuous Improvement Webinar Series scheduled for January/February 2021
  • Be showcased in their own session of at the 8th annual Carnegie Foundation Summit on Improvement in Education scheduled for April 25–27, 2021, in San Diego, CA
  • Receive complimentary travel, lodging, and registration for two colleagues to attend Carnegie’s 2021 Summit

How are spotlighted groups chosen?

The application committee includes Carnegie Foundation executive leadership and senior fellows, as well as past Spotlight honorees. The committee carefully reviews the submissions and may select one or more enterprises in each category.


How do I apply?

Go to the Application Process on the 2020 Call for Applications web page to download a category-specific application. Complete your responses to the application in full as a Word document. Be sure to provide a separate response for each question.

May I include attachments with my application?

Please do not include attachments beyond the completed application. Please provide your evidence (charts, data displays, and/or figures) documenting measurable improvement(s) at some significant scale directly into the application.

Can I receive feedback on my application prior to submission?

Though the Foundation can provide information about the logistics of completing and submitting your application, we are unable to provide feedback or coaching on the content of your submission.

Since the main goal of the application is to find out more about you and your work, it’s possible you may be asked to provide additional details about your work after you submit your application.

Can I apply as a school?

We are seeking enterprises that run or manage schools (school districts, state and local education agencies, and charter management organizations). If you are a school, we instead encourage you to submit a proposal to present at the Summit on Improvement in Education.

Spotlight Events

If selected as a spotlighted enterprise, what events will I need to attend?

Spotlight honorees will present their work in a webinar as part of the Spotlight on Quality in Continuous Improvement Webinar Series (January/February 2021), and at the Summit on Improvement in Education (April 25–27, 2021, in San Diego, CA).

Please note that, although we prefer that Spotlight honorees attend the in-person event, given the uncertainty of these times, we will also consider remote presentations. We continue to monitor the pandemic and will take actions to ensure the safety of Summit attendees; and, if necessary, we will pivot to an all-virtual Summit as we did in 2020.

What is the Spotlight on Quality in Continuous Improvement Webinar Series, who attends, and when and where does it take place?

Scheduled for January/February 2021, the Spotlight on Quality in Continuous Improvement Webinar Series signals and celebrates quality in the enactment of improvement principles. It provides an opportunity for Spotlight honorees to describe how they engage in improvement approaches to achieve substantial gains in reducing longstanding disparities in student outcomes.

We anticipate that each Spotlight honoree will be featured in a weekly 75–90-minute webinar. The series will be attended by a diverse group of educators, researchers, entrepreneurs, philanthropists, and policymakers dedicated to accelerating improvement in education.

What is the Summit on Improvement in Education, who attends, and when and where does it take place?

The Summit on Improvement in Education—the Carnegie Foundation’s premier annual conference for education improvers—is a vibrant three-day event that brings together a diverse group of educators, researchers, entrepreneurs, philanthropists, and policymakers dedicated to accelerating improvement in education. The 2021 Summit will be held April 25-27 at the San Diego Hilton Bayfront hotel in San Diego, CA. Join Carnegie’s mailing list to be updated when registration opens in fall 2020.

What safety considerations can we expect at Summit 2021?

Summit 2021 will be designed with safety and wellness of attendees as our top priority. Working with the Hilton San Diego Bayfront, we will take measures and precautions to make sure that you can focus on your learning experience and participate safely and worry-free. The Hilton and its partner, the Mayo Clinic, have developed the Hilton CleanStay™ with Lysol Protection system that ensures rigorous cleaning and disinfecting protocols are applied throughout the hotel.

What is expected of presenters at the Spotlight Webinar Series and Summit sessions?

For the Spotlight Webinar Series: Spotlighted groups will be expected to prepare presentations in which they tell the story of how they achieved measurable improvements in outcomes and used improvement principles to achieve these outcomes.

For the Summit on Improvement in Education: Spotlighted groups will be expected to present their improvement work in breakout sessions of varying length.

Spotlight honorees will receive coaching from Carnegie Foundation leaders for both events.

Will I be reimbursed for my travel?

Carnegie Foundation will reimburse the travel and accommodations for two leaders of the spotlighted enterprise to attend and present at the Summit. The registration fee for the Summit General Conference will be waived.

Don’t see the information you’re looking for? Contact Kareen Yang at with additional questions.