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 Citizens of the World Came to Us: Citizens of the World Charter Schools challenge students to realize their full potential and thrive in a diverse society by being deliberate about embedding diversity within their schools while providing a rigorous and joyful learning environment. The school network came to us seeking creative ways to highlight their unique model as reporters across the nation expressed interest. One of their main concerns was shoring up support in neighborhoods where they had existing schools, but where their work was not clearly understood. This included in New York City and Los Angeles; and where they were opening new schools, specifically looking to establish a groundswell of support for their new campus in Kansas City.
Our Strategy for Citizens of the World: We first helped Citizens of the World hone in on their vision and bring consistency to the way they talked about their model and the success of their schools. By telling their story over time and raising community awareness, enrollment in their schools increased and teacher recruiting efforts improved. This increased visibility helped prepare the organization to expand into Kansas City at the local community’s request. We helped spearhead this effort by capturing the story of a community eager to create a new school system that reflects the full diversity of Midtown, a historically segregated part of Kansas City. Then we elevated Citizens’ voice and the voices of community members who pioneered the effort to establish a high-quality school that would encourage families to stay in Midtown, rather than leave for better schools outside the community. From there, we built momentum with the local news media to highlight Citizens’ vision for Kansas City. To prepare for this exposure, we worked with Citizens by media training their top leaders, developing speeches, talking points and presentations for key stakeholders to take a vision and a concept and help turn it into a thriving public school.