Frequently Asked Questions
Who is Bellwether Education Partners?
Bellwether Education Partners is a national nonprofit focused on dramatically changing education and life outcomes for underserved children. We do this by helping education organizations accelerate their impact and by working to improve policy and practice.
What does Bellwether Education do?
Bellwether helps our clients better meet their challenges through five service areas:
Policy analysis and research
Bellwether develops and advances innovative solutions to major questions and challenges facing policymakers and the education field. The research and recommendations we’ve released have shaped local, state, and federal policies and the broader conversation about America’s schools. We are sought out for our independent analysis, deep expertise, and broad networks in the education sector. Our reports, videos, op-eds, blog posts, comprehensive slide decks, memos, and more help organizations and leaders understand and communicate how policies affect their work so they can improve outcomes for kids.
Strategy and growth planning
Regardless of their stage of growth, many organizations in the education sector seek advice to deepen and broaden their impact in service of kids. Bellwether supports organizations, foundations, leaders, and entrepreneurs on program improvement and/or strategic growth. We first clarify the theory of action and goals and then develop a clear, objective assessment of current strengths and gaps. Our team identifies and assesses strategic options, resulting in detailed, actionable plans that have buy-in from across the team.
Organizational effectiveness and efficiency
Bellwether works with organizations of all sizes to plan and build their capacity across a number of areas, including human capital, operations, finance, academics, programming, external relations, and governance. This can include conducting financial analysis to drive efficiency and sustainability, undertaking targeted research into national and local best practices, and defining and clarifying organizational roles and responsibilities. Bellwether always leaves clients with a set of tailored recommendations on the best path forward to drive internal change.
Launching complex projects requires attention to details, communications, and change management. We help organizations design and execute a breadth of initiatives, providing project management expertise and extra implementation capacity to position critical initiatives for long-term success. When new projects or initiatives require financial backing, we can also help clients develop competitive grant applications for federal and other funds.
Educational program evaluation
Organizations need good information about their programs to understand what works, for whom, and why. Bellwether’s team of evaluators helps clients integrate evaluation into planning and implementation efforts so they can get good information and use it to drive what they do. We can conduct classic short- and long-term external evaluations, and we can also offer extensive experience in building the capacity of organizations and grantees to evaluate their own efforts for continuous improvement.
Academic and program strategy
Through tailored one-on-one collaborations and multi-school cohorts, our academic and program strategy team helps schools and networks start strong, improve results, and grow with quality. Our advisers deepen and expand the impact of school programming by supporting new schools through early-stage planning, helping leaders scale impact, and building improvement plans for existing schools. This work includes assessing school quality, establishing strong teacher and leader coaching systems, developing a comprehensive approach to school culture, facilitating professional development to support capacity building, and providing executive coaching of school and network leaders.
Does everyone at Bellwether agree on educational reforms?
One of Bellwether’s greatest strengths is that diversity of viewpoint is encouraged among the partner team and throughout the organization. Everyone at Bellwether is committed to dramatic improvements in our country's education system, but internally there are different views about how to accomplish that work. We believe that challenging ideas and analysis, an evidence-based culture, and respect for competing theories of action is a key part of what makes Bellwether highly effective.
What doesn’t Bellwether do?
Bellwether is not a lobbying or public relations organization. We believe that “representing” clients in the media or before government agencies and public officials is incompatible with how we approach our overall work.
Who is on your team?
Bellwether brings together a team of 45 outstanding professionals who collectively have decades of hands-on leadership experience in education. Our teammates have worked in the highest levels of state and federal education policy and as founders of organizations, early stage and scale-up senior executives, accomplished strategy consultants, former teachers, and organizational development experts.
Who funds Bellwether?
Bellwether is dependent on a blend of philanthropic support and donations coupled with fee-for-service consulting work to accomplish its mission. All of our funders and clients can be found on this website.
Why is Bellwether a nonprofit?
Bellwether’s founders sought to create a sustainable organization that can also undertake field-building activities that cannot be monetized yet help to improve the education sector. A blend of service offerings and grants allows us to work toward this goal and stay focused on our underlying mission. As a practical matter, this means that Bellwether is governed by a volunteer board of directors and that no partners or employees of Bellwether have an equity or ownership stake in the organization.