In a groundbreaking partnership, the five largest school districts in Wisconsin, with support from the NYC Leadership Academy, have developed the Wisconsin Urban Leadership Institute (WULI). The institute will develop 30 sitting school leaders this year who will serve the state’s most underserved students. These five districts serve one-fifth of the Wisconsin’s K-12 students.

The participating districts — Green Bay, Kenosha, Madison, Milwaukee, and Racine — together serve one-third of the state’s low-income students, nearly half of English language learners, and two-fifths of the state’s homeless students.

“School leaders are critical in ensuring that each student is getting a great education,” said Wisconsin Deputy State Superintendent Mike Thompson. “The schools in these districts face some of the biggest educational challenges in the state. By tapping into the expertise of our five largest school districts and partnering with the NYC Leadership Academy, with its impressive track record of developing leaders who transform schools, we can make progress in closing achievement gaps in Wisconsin and give our students what they need and deserve.”

Said NYC Leadership Academy President & CEO Nancy B. Gutiérrez, “We are honored to support this historic effort to improve learning for Wisconsin’s children. By helping leaders develop the skills and dispositions they need to identify and address inequities in schools, the Urban Leadership Institute will go a long way toward helping schools address some of their most intractable challenges.”

During the program, school leaders in WULI will receive professional development, leadership coaching, and networking all aimed at supporting the leaders in developing the competencies outlined in the Wisconsin Framework for Principal Leadership and the leadership dispositions needed to effectively lead for equity. The NYC Leadership Academy will facilitate the professional learning sessions this year, and co-facilitate the following two years, with the goal of building the capacity of the WULI team to run the institute on its own. The first session will be held on October 15. The first cohort of leaders was chosen for their demonstrated commitment to addressing gaps, leading for equitable outcomes for all students, and engaging communities in this work.

WULI will be overseen by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction and the five district superintendents, is sponsored by Froedtert Hospital and Northwestern Mutual, and was developed in partnership with the Madison Urban League.

Said Madison Urban League President & CEO Ruben L. Anthony, Jr., Ph.D., “The Urban Leadership Institute is a “brave new step” taken by the five biggest school districts in the state. It will prepare principals and principal supervisors with the skills necessary to meet students where they are and successfully educate them. Graduates of the institute must recognize that we all have cultural blind spots and implicit biases that may hinder effective teaching. To be successful school leaders must overcome these challenges, leverage community resource and believe that every child can be a successful student.”

About NYC Leadership Academy

NYC Leadership Academy is a nationally recognized nonprofit organization that builds the capacity of educational leaders, at every level of the system, to confront inequities and create the conditions necessary for all students to thrive. Since 2003, NYCLA has worked with educators in 185 school systems across 33 states, Washington, D.C., and internationally.

Contact: Jill Grossman,, 347-558-6464