Mission Statement and Theory of Change
We often begin our work with clients by guiding them through a process to define their mission statement and theory of change — a reflection of their current (though likely not fixed) perspective on how to achieve the changes they seek in education. The process includes developing a working mission statement, outlining and pressure testing the most realistic possible assumptions about how relevant change actually happens, and determining outcomes by which to measure success. The mission statement and theory of change provides a framework to guide our clients' philanthropic giving and is continually updated based on new evidence about how to be more impactful.
At the heart of our work with philanthropists (and their agents) is strategy development. We've designed strategy and portfolio management tools, including a framework for understanding the education ecosystem in which our clients are investing, and a method for tailoring their investments accordingly. Through ongoing portfolio management, we continually refine the overlay of our client's theory of change, our understanding of the education ecosystem in the communities of interest to them, and the resources at their disposal, to ensure our clients are investing in the highest leverage opportunities. As we shift from strategy to action, we also provide seamless transactional support to our clients, covering everything from applications and due diligence to disbursements and legal compliance on political giving.
We strive to ensure that pursuing transformational impact through philanthropy will be a deeply rewarding journey for each of our clients. Based on our clients' personal interests, we develop customized learning experiences that leverage our relationships with individuals and organizations across the education sector. These experiences are designed to advance our clients' knowledge and understanding as progressively more impactful philanthropists. A few examples of these experiences include curated trips to explore innovative school models in the Bay Area or a series of meetings with advocacy organizations across the country to better understand effective grassroots organizing.
Grantee Engagement and Support
Our work with clients often involves deep engagement with grantees. This allows us to identify and rapidly address performance challenges as they arise. We can do this by working directly with grantees, in some cases drawing on a set of assessment tools we have developed for organizations working in such arenas as legislative advocacy, strategic communications and community organizing. We also draw on expertise in our network of subject specialists, coaches, and practitioners.
We take a distinctive and rigorous approach to evaluating investment impact. We work to define both qualitative and quantitative measures of impact for each grantee and continuously evaluate progress on a timeline suited to the scope of the challenge the grantee seeks to address. We are tough, but careful graders when it comes to assessing the effectiveness of grantees because we know the effectiveness of our clients' investment strategies rests on the ability to consistently direct resources over time to organizations and individuals actually producing results — especially when the aim of our client's philanthropy is to catalyze lasting systemic change.
Our clients seek to make change at scale and this often means making a public impression. We work with experts in public relations and personal branding to ensure that the stories told about our clients and their philanthropy are an inspiring and integral part of the impact they bring to the field.