Chief Innovation Officer Toolkit

Recognizing the critical role that Chief Innovation Officers (CIOs) play in leading how districts navigate today’s current challenges while keeping an eye on the future, we created the CIO Toolkit in partnership with NewSchools Venture Fund and The Broad Center in 2020. This research-backed toolkit is designed to help districts, and CIOs, make strategic decisions about their needs. Through research with school, policy and national leaders, we’ve identified four core work streams, five essential competencies and four key mindsets of a successful CIO. The Imagine Network will build upon the findings of the CIO Toolkit to provide targeted supports to participants that address the core workstreams, competencies and mindsets.


Learn more about how districts can innovate for equity

In this Toolkit

This toolkit was developed using desk research; interviews with current and former district, policy, philanthropic and nonprofit leaders; and the experiences of the authors and collaborators. This process yielded four core workstreams, five essential competencies and four key mindsets of a successful CIO. The toolkit also contains resources to help districts create, hire, rehire and reflect on the role and its potential for impact.

Additional Resources

  • Sample job description: A job description to be used by interested districts as a model for writing their own CIO job description
  • Suggested reading list: A curated reading list for those looking to learn more about the future of work and innovation needs, CIO and district examples of their work and impact

See What Others are Saying About the Toolkit

School Districts Need Chief Innovation Officers Now More Than Ever, Miho Kubagawa 

Now, amid radically shifting learning environments caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, CIOs’ knowledge, skills, and mindsets are critical for shepherding school districts through this time of enormous change and uncertainty. As one superintendent shared, “Maybe ten years ago it was optional to have a CIO role; now it is critical and necessary.”