Project Profiles

Helping Americans Vote: For the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC), a federal agency established by to implement the 2002 Help America Vote Act (HAVA), Practical Strategy developed tools for states and U.S. territories to maximize the effective use and ease of management of federal funds granted for the improvement of elections. The Practical Strategy team also advised the EAC on the development of customer service and communication improvements to facilitate the sharing of knowledge and guidance critical to states' success. The process by which Practical Strategy developed these products with the EAC is easily replicable and useful for many federal agencies and programs. Practical Strategy provided the agency with a series of important products that helped better support and communicate with local and state election officials, a critical component of the EAC's mission. As with all Practical Strategy projects, the work was conducted in close collaboration with agency leadership.

Managing Growth While Protecting Core Values: We have been privileged to work with the Jane Goodall Institutes, and the staff and Board of the Jane Goodall Institute US, to help build the Institute's strategy for chimpanzee protection, community conservation and sustainable development, and youth leadership and environmental awareness on a global scale. Most recently, we organized and facilitated a four day global summit of directors of Jane Goodall Institutes from 30 countries in Barcelona, Spain. Under the international leadership of renowned primatologist Jane Goodall, the Institute's track record has garnered support from foundations, government agencies and private contributors, and extended its reach to organizations serving African wildlife, sustainable development, and global environmental awareness. We worked closely with the Institute to develop a strategy for managing and sustaining growth while maintaining commitment to core values and direction. Our analysis—based on understanding of the needs of Institute customers and stakeholders, the impact of the organization and its diverse programs, and the political, social and economic trends that shape the environment in which it competes—is helping to guide decision making and strategy for the future.

Streamlining Grants Management to Improve Program Results: Streamlining grants management and improving the effectiveness of government expenditures was the focus of our work with the Corporation for National and Community Service. For Corporation programs, including AmeriCorps, VISTA and Senior Corps, we designed and helped implement a grants management streamlining and burden reduction initiative. Informed by our analysis of federal agency grants process improvement initiatives, we conducted focus groups nationwide with grantees about improving grants management and reporting and oversight. We led professional development sessions with federal staff. Recommendations became the basis for agency-wide changes in grants implementation and working with recipients of federal funds to improve the results of their investments. For Learn and Serve America, we assessed the strengths and weaknesses of grants management systems and field needs, and developed Core Competencies for Effective Grants Management: A Tool for Learn and Serve Grantees. This primer was distributed to grantees nation-wide to help them focus on key aspects of effective grants management. A companion self-assessment tool and other supporting materials were also developed. Click here for our issue paper, with Plexus Scientific Corporation, about improving grants management.

Developing a Dashboard and Management Process for Going to Scale: “A great place to play within walking distance of every child in America" is the KaBOOM! vision. We worked with the KaBOOM! senior management team to develop annual operating plans for major strategic goals and to implement a performance measurement dashboard for tracking progress. In addition to supporting strategy execution and alignment work, we synthesized thinking and options about building effective partnerships, account management, and organizational development concerns. Our performance dashboard meshed the goals of the KaBOOM strategic plan with indicators of progress to create a tool for managers and Board to identify and address potential issues, and to identify and maintain focus on highest priority results.

Helping Develop and Implement a National High School Reform Agenda: As part of our assistance to the Institute for Educational Leadership and the National High School Alliance, we supported the Gates' Foundation-funded National Network of Constituent Organizations. Work with this network of national education associations, including the Council of Chief State School Officers, the National Association of Secondary School Principals, the National Governors' Association, the State Higher Education Executive Officers and the National Association of State Boards of Education, focused on building alliances across independent organizations and analysis of key issues that pose challenges in the high school improvement arena. Our analysis about increasing rigor in high school, which proposed a simple conceptual framework for talking about rigor, was distributed widely and followed by a companion paper regarding providing academic interventions to struggling students. We also provided ongoing management support to the National High School Alliance and conducted a strategic positioning study for its parent organization, the Institute for Education Leadership.

Improving Business Processes to Serve New Mexico Citizens: Supporting the State's Education Secretary improve the operations of the New Mexico Public Education Department and increase responsiveness to New Mexico citizens was the focus of this engagement. We concentrated in three high priority areas: teacher licensure, accountability and assessment, and charter school authorization and operations. Working both internally with Department staff and externally with key stakeholders, we examined the implementation of education policy and state business processes. Our goal: to improve customer service, quality and responsiveness of state government. In teacher licensure, which also included a state-wide survey of teachers, major findings and recommendations were geared toward effective implementation of New Mexico teacher licensure requirements, reducing turnaround time and improving quality. We also developed recommendations for state policy initiatives in K-12 and higher education. (with Public Works LLC)

Sarasota County Public Schools-Reengineering Career and Technical Education, Smaller Learning Communities Development, and High School Improvement: For this mid-sized urban school district, we conducted an assessment of career and technical education, and developed recommendations for bolstering CTE as part of the district high school reform strategy. The study, funded by local foundations, focused on steps needed to improve both college and career preparedness of Sarasota youth. We continued to work with the District to support smaller learning community implementation and career and technical education reform at five comprehensive high schools, as well as identified major workforce trends and business needs, and their implications for high school curricula and governance. Grace Sammon and GMS Partners, Inc. continue to provide coaching to the Sarasota district and school level leadership as they implement their high school reform agenda. (with GMS Partners, Inc.)