We believe a high quality education and some form of post-secondary degree is fundamental to breaking cycles of intergenerational poverty. Bridgespan’s education practice collaborates with organizations that seek to make unprecedented progress toward increasing college readiness and completion for low-income students. The following research and insights share perspectives and examples of how some organizations are improving the education system and are overcoming the challenges of providing high-quality educational opportunities to at-risk youth.

Featured Research and Insights

Transforming Schools: How Distributed Leadership Can Create More High Performing Schools

A new report by Bain & Co. and The Bridgespan Group explores the use of distributed leadership in school systems as an approach to ensuring teachers receive the development and support they need to achieve higher student outcomes.

Achieving Kindergarten Readiness for All Our Children: A Funder's Guide to Early Childhood Development from Birth to Five

Remarkably, one in four American children come from low-income families and enter kindergarten not ready to learn and, as a result, fall behind from the very start. Achieving Kindergarten Readiness for All Our Children aims to change that. This guide offers numerous specific, evidence-based public investment opportunities private donors and government can pursue immediately to make an impact.

Starting Over After Starting Up

As a growing number of school districts and charter school operators embark on school turnaround efforts, Green Dot’s story offers a hopeful yet cautionary tale. It illustrates the enormous challenges faced in meeting the needs of all students, in supporting teachers and school leaders, and in achieving financial sustainability. It also offers solutions learned through hard experience that other organizations engaged in turnaround efforts can benefit from.

Making Social Sector Apprenticeships Part of the College Experience

The social sector needs to develop more talent, says Eric Schwarz, former CEO of Citizen Schools and recent founder of College for Social Innovation.  His new venture aims to help fill the sector’s talent pipeline by making high quality experience-based learning at nonprofits available to students as part of their college experience.

How Can Donors Advance Education-and the 'Common Core'?

The Common Core offers donors an unprecedented opportunity to support large-scale, transformative improvements in public education. But many question whether their investments in the Common Core will have a meaningful impact. For some donors, the answer is an unequivocal yes.

Developing Many More Effective Learners

This resource center provides links to Bridgespan’s recent Stanford Social Innovation Review website article, “Rethinking How Students Succeed”; profiles of organizations engaged in developing more effective learners; and resources, tools, and publications for those interested in learning about promising ways to build students’ social and emotional learning skills, and academic mindsets and behaviors.

Rethinking How Students Succeed

Success in school comes when cognitive skills work in tandem with so-called soft skills like self-control, persistence, and relationship development. Yet educators typically focus on improving skills in teaching core subjects rather than developing students’ social and emotional learning skills. This Stanford Social Innovation Review article shares four noncognitive skills initiatives that hold promise for making teachers more effective and students more successful.

Community as Coauthor: Writing a New Narrative for Education in Jacksonville

In 2012, a group of Jacksonville funders set out to turn around the city's lowest performing schools. Together with district leadership and the community, they created a plan to transform teaching and learning in three dozen schools. They are beginning to see signs of progress, illustrating what's possible when local funders and communities work together to improve education. (Huffington Post)

Investing in "Teacher Town USA"

Thirty thousand Tennessee students attend 80 schools that rank in the state’s bottom 5 percent in terms of academic achievement. Sixty-eight of those schools are in the Shelby County school district, which includes Memphis. Several Memphis funders are working with the school district and the community to retain, develop, and recruit the outstanding teachers needed to improve students’ academic performance. (Stanford Social Innovation Review)

Local Philanthropists Work Together to Transform Public Education

In three cities, local funders are working side-by-side with district leadership and the community to dramatically improve educational outcomes for all students.

Building the Missing Link between the Common Core and Improved Learning

How a state, a school district, and a technical assistance provider are using their best resource—teachers—to implement the Common Core standards for improved teaching and learning.

Rethinking High School Turnarounds

In June 2012, Green Dot Public Schools and The Bridgespan Group convened a small group of education leaders focused on high school turnaround and transformation. This article explores some of what we learned about problems of practice and potential solutions—all toward the ultimate goal of college and career readiness for every student.

Reclaiming the American Dream

Academic preparation is critical to increasing the odds that students will graduate from high school and attain college degrees, but not sufficient by itself. Students' expectations that a college degree will be essential to pursue their desired career, peer culture (particularly having a cohort of friends who plan to attend college), and supports that address the issue of college affordability also are key levers for achieving the goal.

Teacher Development Is Key to Closing the Achievement Gap

To help students meet, or even exceed, expectations, we need to increase the effectiveness of teachers say Brian Sims, the managing director of training academies at AUSL in Chicago, and Bridgespan Partner Betsy Haley Doyle, in this Edutopia blog post.

Featured Case Studies

Abstract: Aspire Public Schools (2008)

Two years into an aggressive expansion plan, the leaders of Aspire Public Schools found themselves overtaxed and concerned about maintaining quality outcomes. This case study follows their efforts to strengthen their organization so that it could meet both the immediate and longer-term demands of growth.

YES Prep: Preparing Low-Income Students for High School, College, and Beyond

Incorporating video, text and sample documents, this case study explores the "nuts and bolts" of how YES Prep Public Schools, a charter organization based in Houston, Texas, succeeds in preparing low-income students not only to graduate from high school, but also to enter college ready to meet the challenges of a post-secondary education.

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