Discovering better ways to solve social problems

The Wallace Foundation: Development of Two Strategic Business Plans for Grantees

Case Overview

FSG helped two Wallace Foundation grantees, the Southern Regional Education Board (SREB) and the Institute for Learning (IFL), develop strategic business plans to increase the reach, impact, and financial sustainability of their flagship training programs while also exploring opportunities to shift to hybrid delivery models.

The Challenge

As public high school graduation rates and overall student achievement levels in the U.S. remain stubbornly low—particularly for low-income and minority students—understanding the key factors that most affect student learning has become increasingly important. Two factors have significant influence on what and how students learn: classroom instruction and school leadership.

SREB and IFL had developed highly effective approaches that significantly strengthen the abilities of school leaders and classroom instructors. The Wallace Foundation was interested in expanding the reach of these proven approaches, while maintaining their high level of programmatic quality and content. Specifically, the SREB Learning-Centered Leadership Program (LCLP) offered a series of highly successful school leadership training modules that could be expanded to new locations and enhanced by introducing innovative methods for content delivery. IFL had developed rigorous, research-based professional development programs for district and school leaders and teaching staff that were highly-effective but also time- and cost-intensive.

So SREB and IFL, with underwriting from The Wallace Foundation, engaged FSG to develop strategic business plans for their respective organizations so that each grantee could increase the reach, impact, and financial sustainability of their flagship training programs while also exploring opportunities to shift to blended learning product and service delivery models.

Approach & Solutions

FSG formed two separate consulting teams, which developed strategic business plans for SREB and IFL. The SREB plan was based on interviews with nearly 100 stakeholders, through which FSG helped the organization develop a new theory of change and a detailed action plan for converting the organization's heralded leadership training modules into a new, partially web-based format. For IFL, FSG explored alternative, hybrid delivery models that would allow IFL staff to train district and school leadership with less on-the-ground time needed while reaching a broader collection of districts and educational organizations. For both SREB and IFL, FSG developed financial models and crafted implementation plans based on this research.

About The Wallace Foundation

Based in New York City, The Wallace Foundation is a national philanthropy that seeks to improve education and enrichment for disadvantaged children. The Foundation has an unusual approach that includes funding projects to test innovative ideas for solving important social problems; conducting research to find out what works and what doesn’t and to fill key knowledge gaps; and then communicating the results to help others.

About SREB

SREB is a nonprofit organization that works with 16 member states from Texas to Delaware to improve public pre-K-12 and higher education. Founded by governors and legislators in 1948, SREB was America's first inter-state compact for education. Today it is the only regional education compact that works directly with state leaders, schools, and educators to improve teaching, learning, and student achievement at every level of education.

About IFL

Located at the Learning Research and Development Center of the University of Pittsburgh, IFL is committed to changing public education by bringing the latest research to bear in informing practice in districts, schools, and classrooms. Since 1995, IFL has worked to improve the education and achievement of all students, especially those who are underserved, and works closely with both researchers and educators to translate research findings into practical actions that teachers and school leaders can implement to help close the learning gap and promote high student achievement.

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