School transformation

We make investments in select struggling schools that are taking on the transformative work of a turnaround in partnership with their communities 

We fund exploratory activities related to helping boards and the school community determine the best intervention for a struggling school—turnaround or closure.

Funding may include support to visit schools that have completed a turnaround with the support of a proven operator, or supporting the board discussion process as they explore turnaround versus closure. We also help offer school quality reviews—analysis of the current state of a school, providing the school board and leadership with a foundation from which to determine next steps.

Critical success factors

There are seven critical success factors with a strong correlation to improving student outcomes as described below. (Specific evidence is further explained here.)

1. Capacity of the team
If a school is going to make rapid gains on behalf of students, it’s essential that the incoming team of educators has strong capacity, both in terms of their credentials and of the proven outcomes from the school program or educational approach. We will also seek to understand the overall due diligence process that was used to select this particular team or organization, including the review criteria used by the charter authorizer.

2. Community support
Parents and community members provide a vital role in our schools and it’s critically important that they support the incoming team of educators and the selection of this team. There’s expectation that community engagement occurs and that a majority of families are supportive of the intended change.

3. Need for program
There needs to be a clear and demonstrated need for a continued school program in the specific location and serving the current students at the school. Without a clear and ongoing need for the school, parents and families are likely to leave it and enroll elsewhere (in the midst of the transition)—this in turn jeopardizes the viability of the transformed school.

4. Governance
The school’s board needs to be able to manage this process and embrace the need for significant change. There must be a commitment to establish a high-functioning board, including functioning with a role as governance, rather than engaging in day-to-day management.

5. Financial viability
The school must be financially viable and have a history of stable student enrollment. It’s expected that there’s an alignment between the existing enrollment and future projections for enrollment with the new operator.

6. Adequate timeline
Experience both locally and nationally supports the observation that schools need an adequate amount of time to plan for a proposed transformation, while also thoughtfully engaging families and students in the planning process. Per national research, the planning process should start one year prior to the proposed opening date under the new operator.

7. Implementation
For the incoming team or operator to function well, they must have the full autonomy to implement a proven program.

Grant applications are by invitation only. Support is evaluated using seven critical success factors as described above. If your school is interested in exploring turnaround or contemplating closure, please contact Sheilah Kavaney to learn more about how we can support you in this process: