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Exceeding Expectations with the Venture Fund & Fellowship

Years ago, I saw that congregations were using their collective voice to influence issues like immigration reform and the environment — but none had taken on issues of equity in education.

It was through conversations with faith leaders, my experiences growing up in the African American church tradition, and my passion for education that I felt inspired to put my faith in action and start The Expectations Project, an organization dedicated to closing the achievement gap.

I became a Venture Fellow last fall and have already applied concrete ideas for fundraising, generated with the help of the fellowship, to The Expectations Project. And in a single month, we exceeded our annual goal for individual giving!

We need more entrepreneurs to lead ventures that will benefit students and their families. I hope you’ll take advantage of this incredible opportunity to scale the impact of your organization.

— Nicole


The Venture Fund & Fellowship is designed to offer strategic and financial support to LEE members who are planning or have already started innovative civic ventures to further educational equity.

Though the Venture Fellowship, Nicole gained access to leadership and technical assistance coaching, pro bono supports, and expert advice worth $55,000 for the purpose of furthering the mission of The Expectations Project, on top of an additional $50,000 investment from the Venture Fund to increase the impact of her venture. As a result of one-on-one development coaching she received at the Venture Fellowship’s Executive Director Boot Camp, Nicole launched her organization’s first individual giving campaign and exceeded her 12-month giving goal in just one month.

Applications for the Venture Fund & Fellowship are due August 15, 2016. Take two minutes to complete the pre-application now!

Nicole Baker Fulgham (Los Angeles ’91), is the founder and president of The Expectations Project. In addition to completing the LEE Venture Fellowship, Nicole is an Aspen Institute Education Fellow and Mind Trust Education Entrepreneur Fellow who regularly speaks at faith-based and education conferences. Christianity Today Magazine named her one of the 50 Women Leaders Influencing the Church and Culture (2012), and the New Schools Venture Fund named her the Entrepreneur to Watch (2014). She lives in the Washington, D.C. area.

“I loved the fellowship and the support! I appreciate the New Ventures Team for truly striving to make the experience fit so many different leaders at different stages. The individual coaching has taken me forward!” — Nicole Baker Fulgham