Why Summit Public Schools Came to Us: Since Summit Public Schools’ inception in 2003, they have remained true to their mission – to prepare all students for success in a four-year college or university. We began working with Summit in its infancy, and for more than 10 years have helped them help raise awareness of the Summit model as they’ve expanded their reach. In 2017, U.S. News and World Report ranked three of Summit’s schools among the nation’s Top 100 High Schools.
Our Summit Public Schools Strategy: In the early years, we created a strategy to help Summit raise positive awareness of Summit’s first schools. This work started as we helped position Summit as they shepherded their school petitions through the approval process to launch additional high-quality campuses across Silicon Valley. This included several hands-on efforts to help Summit’s schools secure campuses from their local sponsoring school districts. Many of these school districts were resistant early on to embracing another public school option in their community. By helping communicate Summit’s success with its students – close to 100 percent of their graduates each year are accepted to college – more area school districts are now eager to learn from Summit’s results.
Why The Education Trust–West Came to Us: One of California’s most respected education policy and research organizations, The Education Trust–West champions policies that increase equity in the state’s K-12 public schools, colleges and universities. When the organization wanted to elevate the conversation about educational justice, we came aboard to help Ed Trust–West promote its research, amplify its advocacy on behalf of students of color, and reach new and larger audiences.
Our Education Trust–West Strategy: With the organization preparing to release a key report on the troubling state of Latino student achievement in California schools, we saw an opportunity to tell a larger story about the discord between the state’s powerful political leadership and the neglected Latino students who make up a majority of students statewide. That message resonated with The New York Times, which featured Ed Trust–West’s “The Majority Report” under the headline “California Today: The Latino Education Crisis.” Featuring quotes from Ed Trust–West’s executive director, the story captured the urgency and injustice of policies that have chronically denied opportunities to Latino students in perhaps the nation’s most progressive state. Eager to paint a vivid picture of the crisis, we also advised Ed Trust–West to create a map illustrating the achievement gap throughout the state. This map, which was also featured in the Times story, visually demonstrated that in every county the majority of Latino students are not proficient in math or English, bringing greater attention to the issue.
Why NACSA Came to Us: The National Association of Charter School Authorizers represents the organizations across the country that authorize public charter schools, also known as authorizers — the regulatory bodies educators and community groups engage with in order to open a charter school. NACSA shares best practices and sets the standards for what high-quality authorizing and accountability entails. They asked us to put together a plan to help them communicate more effectively. They were in search of a plan of action with better messaging that would resonate and stick with their key audiences.
Our Strategy for NACSA: We put together a three-year strategic road map to help NACSA communicate more effectively. Our plan outlined how they could get more specific in their messaging, how to better highlight the best authorizers in the nation, and how adhering to NACSA standards for quality and accountability would help authorizers become more effective. We outlined three specific goals: Shine the light on which authorizers around the country are doing well and which ones aren’t; bring more awareness to high-quality schools and accountability for the best (and worst) authorizers; and shed light on the painful fact that if there are subpar charter schools – it is up to the authorizers to get better at doing their job.