Strategic Data Project Launches 2019-2021 Cohort of Fellows for Educational Improvement

October 15, 2019

Leaders in data analysis support education organizations in evidence use for effective decision-making 

Cambridge, Mass. (Oct. 15, 2019)—The Strategic Data Project (SDP), an initiative of the Center for Education Policy Research (CEPR) at Harvard University, today launched its eleventh cohort of SDP fellows, exemplary research and data leaders helping to transform education through the power of evidence. Through a two-year fellowship, from fall 2019 to summer 2021, each fellow will collaborate with stakeholders and leadership at their organizations—including school districts, state departments of education, and charter management organizations—to assess and grow organizational data use, develop analytic improvement plans, and generate new insights that will inform future decisions of education policy and practice.  

The eleventh cohort includes 44 new SDP fellows representing more than 40 education organizations, including major school districts such as Atlanta Public Schools, Cleveland Metropolitan School District, Syracuse City School District, the School District of Palm Beach County, and Wake County Public Schools System and state education agencies including West Virginia Department of Education, Mississippi Department of Education, and Rhode Island Department of Education. This year SDP welcomes new and unique partners, such as the U.S. Department of Defense Education Activity, the High Tech High Graduate School of Education, and the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation.  

“This group of outstanding data leaders are poised to use their quantitative talents to support the work of increasing educational opportunity across the nation,” said SDP Director Miriam Greenberg. “We are honored to support them along their journey to bring the power of data to bear on system improvement and ultimately, student success.” 

SDP alumni frequently go on to hold significant leadership roles in their organizations. Most recently, Dr. Akisha Osei Sarfo was selected as Chief Performance Officer in Guilford County Schools, where she was a fellow from 2015 to 2017, and Dr. C. Todd Cummings was appointed the Superintendent of the South Bend Community School Corporation, after serving there as fellow from 2013 to 2015. 

Cohort 11 fellows and their supervisors will join SDP at the Harvard Graduate School of Education in Cambridge, Massachusetts this week for the first of several in-person workshops over the next two years to learn from Harvard faculty and plan for their strategic data projects. These new fellows join a network of 311 current and former fellows, who continue to advance data-driven educational improvement.  

To continue in its mission, SDP has opened the application process for partner organizations and fellows for Cohort 12, which will run from fall 2020 to summer 2022. Education organizations may hire fellows who SDP has recruited and screened or enroll their own existing employees as fellows.  

About SDP: The Strategic Data Project at Harvard University works with education agencies to find and train data leaders to uncover trends, measure solutions, and effectively communicate evidence to stakeholders. Our inspiring network of system leaders, fellows, and faculty come together to share how to best use data to make a difference in the lives of students. Learn more at or follow us on Twitter @HarvardCEPR and #SDPfellow

Contact: Lindsay Blauvelt, Publications Coordinator,