Impact Team Strategy

The Charter School Growth Fund (CSGF) is launching its third fund and, as part of this new effort, we are expanding the supports and services that we provide to charter school networks in our portfolio.

The networks that we support represent some of the highest-performing public school systems in the country. Together, these networks serve more than 250,000 students. We expect that within the next decade, our portfolio will serve over 1,000,000 students. As the nation’s best charter networks grow into world-class organizations, they will need to build new capacity and solve longstanding challenges in public education.

We have created an Impact Team to provide dedicated support to our portfolio members. Led by Alex Hernandez, the team will invest $15 million over 5 years in solutions that help charter networks get better faster. The Impact Team will also provide direct services such as running convenings for C-Level leaders and senior directors, curating best practices, benchmarking data, and coordinating collaboration between charter networks on important projects.

Our 2016 focus areas:

Invest in solutions that help charter networks build systems and capacity that can accelerate the entire sector. Each year, we expect to make 3–5 sizable investments and multiple smaller “seed” investments in research and development efforts that help charter networks break through to higher levels of performance. Examples of portfolio-driven solutions in which we might invest include teacher recruitment and retention systems that help charters go from recruiting 10 to 1,000 excellent teachers per year, new technology platforms that significantly enhance school performance and capacity, or innovative learning approaches (e.g., character development, college placement, personalization tools) that help students reach unprecedented levels of success. By focusing our investments in this way and partnering with our charter networks to share their successes, we hope the high-performing charter sector can do even more for our children and communities.

Connect charter school leaders to peers, experts and great resources. The CEOs in our portfolio consistently ask for high-quality development opportunities for their senior- and mid-level leaders. Each year, we will host 4–6 convenings so charter leaders across the country can build relationships, share best practices and grow professionally. Our convenings use a consultancy format focused on real issues where leaders can get advice from their peers. We will host five convenings in 2016, focused on: Advocacy (Feb 22–23), English Language Arts (Feb 24–25), Special Education (May), Large Charter Networks (Jun 21–22), and Finance and Operations (Sept TBD).

We also connect portfolio members with experts and to important opportunities. For example, we are partnering with Evan Rudall, former CEO of Uncommon Schools, to help leadership teams improve their effectiveness, and with the KIPP Foundation to make KIPP Wheatley, a Common Core-aligned English Language Arts curriculum, available to portfolio members.

Capture and share insights from high-performing charter school networks. We will develop tools and publications that capture best practices and are immediately practical for charter leaders. In 2016, we will release a facilities affordability tool, a resource highlighting leading practices related to student enrollment and retention, and a curated set of organizing tools to help schools build deeper relationships with their families. We are also highlighting best practices on our blog with topics ranging from school management to financial modeling.

We have learned that our portfolio members benefit most when we truly understand their needs, use the power of our network to help them in creative ways, and roll up our sleeves to deliver tangible benefits on key issues — all while using their time respectfully. As a result, the support that we provide is “pulled” by our portfolio members, not “pushed” onto them. Have a great idea that doesn’t fall neatly in one of the above categories? Let’s work together to figure out how we can be creative.

Next Steps

If you are a portfolio member interested in collaborating with the Impact Team on a project, you can:

  • Reach out directly to your CSGF relationship manager;
  • Contact the Impact Team using this form; and/or
  • Review resources and articles featured on our webpage.