What We Do
A more equitable democratic society – as well as our changing economy – demand dramatically better outcomes from our public education system. To achieve this goal we need stronger and more flexible organizations working to eliminate the achievement gap and delivering an outstanding education to all children. Bellwether advances new ideas that shape the field of education and works closely with clients to address their most pressing strategic and operational issues. Our goal is to build organizations’ capacity to achieve ambitious student impact outcomes through our six interrelated service offerings:
Policy analysis and research
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.
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.
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. We infuse the values of diversity, equity, and inclusion into all evaluations — read about how.
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.