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Case Study

With permission from Democracy Prep Public School

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About Harmony Public Schools

Harmony Public Schools, a STEM-focused (science, technology, engineering, and math) charter management organization, has consistently demonstrated that all students, regardless of race or income level, can achieve outstanding academic results. Harmony has grown rapidly since the launch of its first school in 2000, and now serves more than 26,000 K-12 students across 40+ schools, in Texas and Washington, D.C. Harmony schools have earned national recognition for their performance, with multiple schools appearing on lists such as U.S. News & World Report’s “Best High Schools in the Nation,” Newsweek’s “America’s Best High Schools,” and The Washington Post’s Challenge Index. Additionally, in 2013, Harmony won a $30 million Race to the Top-District grant from the U.S. Department of Education to further personalize learning for its students.

Opportunity

Having successfully implemented its previous growth plan, Harmony partnered with Bellwether to develop a strategic plan for its next five years, focusing on balancing continued growth with deepening impact in cities with already-established schools.

Our approach

Bellwether worked with Harmony leadership to clarify the Theory of Action (TOA) and intended impact, and then identified opportunities and barriers to implementing the TOA by gathering stakeholder perspectives through interviews, focus groups, and an organization-wide survey.  Bellwether supplemented these inputs by analyzing academic performance, organizational readiness to grow, and the charter landscape.  Based on this assessment, we developed detailed strategic initiatives that built on organizational strengths and addressed opportunity areas, prioritizing the initiatives based on potential impact and feasibility of execution.  Bellwether supported the development of a five year strategic plan, financial model, and implementation roadmap, and is continuing to partner with Harmony on targeted initiative implementation.

Results

By 2020, Harmony will serve 30,000+ students at more than fifty campuses, with continued strong academic outcomes across all schools and student subgroups.  Growth will occur in cities where Harmony schools already exist, and new campuses will help Harmony establish a more standard “cluster model” and feeder patterns across Texas.  To deepen impact, Harmony will focus on strengthening its network support to schools and clusters across several priority areas, including recruiting, developing and retaining excellent talent and providing high-quality instructional tools and resources to its educators.  

Social impact

A high-quality STEM education is becoming more and more critical to college and career readiness. Yet, many schools and districts today lack effective STEM instructional approaches and programs. In addition to the direct impact on the students Harmony serves, the organization is also codifying its approach and developing curricula and materials with the goal of transforming the way STEM is taught across the country.

Bellwether’s strategic capabilities

Strategic planning, Market assessment, Financial analysis and modeling, Survey design and analysis, Project management and implementation support

"Working with Bellwether is one of the most unique experiences of my lifetime. Bellwether brings passion, professionalism, and dedication to their work. Harmony Public Schools is happy and proud of our partnership, which provides our team and students with extraordinary opportunities."

Date: 
2014
Team: 
Strategic Advising