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FAQ - Talent Network


Projects

What kind of projects are listed on Catalyst:Ed?

Projects matched by us span both academic and non-academic areas and, depending on requirements, can be as short as a phone consultation or as long as a multi-year engagement. Clients come to us seeking expertise in areas as broad as strategic planning and project management and as narrow as earned revenue strategy development and Medicaid. A more detailed listing of project areas is available here.

What kind of organizations do you work with?

We work with all kinds of organizations serving kids and youth. Our clients include schools, school districts, charter school applicants, non-profits, community groups and foundations. We also work with education start-ups, startup accelerators, education consulting firms looking for excess capacity and associations.

How does Catalyst:Ed come to know of projects?

Many of the projects listed on our website currently are the result of direct outreach by us. We invest significant effort into building relationships with education organizations around the country. We also get referrals from foundations, state agencies and associations. Finally, some of the projects have come to us via our network, with network members reaching out to us when they hear of work that they are unable to take on.

What do you do when a project is listed on your website?

We’ve learned from experience that organizations often appreciate our help with scoping projects. When a project is listed we reach out to the organization to schedule time for a needs assessment. Based on the needs assessment, we develop a detailed project scope. A sample scope can be found here.Once the scope is approved by the client, we share it with network members whose skills and expertise are aligned to the project requirements.

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Applying for a Project

How will I be notified of projects?

If a project is aligned with your areas of expertise, you will get an email via our technology platform.

How does Catalyst:Ed decide whom to notify for a given project?

We are constantly refining our matching algorithm and process. As of now, we match along multiple dimensions, including subject area (e.g., personalized learning, education policy, human capital management, etc.), project type (e.g., design, implementation, coaching, facilitation, etc.), experience level (Senior, Mid, Junior, etc.) and location (relevant for many, although not all projects).

Do I have to respond if I’m tapped for a project?

No - it is entirely up to you whether to apply or not. We recognize that you may not have capacity or may not be interested. If you’re not sure about the timing or the fit, you are always welcome to ask. There is no penalty for not applying to projects.

How do I apply for a project if I’m interested?

The notification email will link to a more detailed scope. If you’re interested, you can submit your proposal using the form embedded in the scope. The proposal typically consists of 3-4 pages with your proposed approach and workplan, your relevant experience and your budget.

Can I coordinate with another consultant (in or out of the Catalyst:Ed network) to go in on a project together?

Absolutely. We recognize that some projects may be best served through a team-based approach. As long as one of of the consultants is in the Catalyst:Ed network, you may work with another consultant in- or out-of-network. However, the in-network consultant must serve as the lead on the project. We do encourage all team members to apply to become part of our network as it will help us build and strengthen our community of educational professionals from across the country. We have also introduced network members to each other and encouraged them to jointly apply for projects that require a mix of skills.

I work for a consulting firm/vendor that provides services to organizations on a contract basis. Can I apply for projects through Catalyst:Ed?

Yes. We do, however, expect the proposed project lead to be a member of our network.

What happens after I apply for a project?

The client reviews all proposals and decides who they want to interview and then, who they want to work with. The interviews are a great opportunity for you and the client to learn more about each other and gauge “fit”.

How will I know if I am selected for a project or not?

Once an organization has made its decision, Catalyst:Ed will communicate the decision via email to all experts who had bid on the project.

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Post-Matching

What happens once I’m matched on a project?

We will guide you through the paperwork and set you up with an account on our project management platform so you and the client can easily track and manage deliverables, invoices and payments.

How does invoicing work?

You submit invoice details through our project management platform, and we take care of the rest.

How does payment work?

Catalyst:Ed offers an easy-to-use payment system through which clients can pay consultants. You can track the status of payments through our project management platform.

How involved is Catalyst:Ed with the project after the match is made?

We check in with you and the client at regular intervals to ensure things are on track. Once the project is done, we send out surveys to both organizations and consultants that enables us to gather feedback and learnings.

How does the rating process work?

Once a project is completed, we ask both parties to review their experiences on the project. The ratings and reviews are shared with the counter party. Experts who bid on projects have the option of sharing their past reviews and ratings with prospective clients, although we do not require them to do so. We also ask both parties to review their experiences with Catalyst:Ed, so we can get better at serving our users.

How should I respond if an organization asks me to contract with them without informing Catalyst:Ed?

We rely on our users adhering to our terms to continue offering our services at an affordable cost. Working on a project that you heard about through Catalyst:Ed and not informing us to avoid paying the service fee would be a breach of the trust we place on our users. It would also constitute a violation of our Terms of Service. If you know of an organization or expert circumventing us after being connected by us, please let us know by sending an email to info@catalyst-ed.org.

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Pricing

Are projects typically fixed price (based on deliverables) or variable priced (based on hours)?

We list both kinds of projects. Typically, if the project deliverables are well-defined, organizations prefer fixed price contracts. If the work requirement is more ambiguous, they might be structured as hourly contracts.

Who sets the budget?

You propose your own price. The organization reviews options and decides who they want to work with. While the budget is definitely a consideration, we have never seen a client make a decision based solely on price.

Do you provide guidance on the budget?

We share a project range (e.g., $5k-$10k, $25k-$50k) with the project scope provided we have the client’s permission to do so.

What is the typical hourly rate charged by experts?

The hourly rate charged by experts varies widely depending on skill areas, nature and years of experience, and interest in a project. Every project is different, and you should determine a rate that’s right for you given your needs. Email us at info@catalyst-ed.org if you need additional guidance.

Can I vary my rate based on the project or am I locked into one rate?

Yes, you may vary your rate.

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Service Fee

Is there a fee for me to join the Catalyst:Ed network?

There is no fee to join the Catalyst:Ed network, receive and review project scopes or submit proposals.

How does Catalyst:Ed cover its costs?

We cover our costs by charging consultants 10% and organizations 5% of the final accepted project bid (organizations that reach out to us through a partnership agreement with a foundation or association pay nothing). Our operational costs include the cost of recruiting and vetting talent, conducting outreach to organizations, scoping and matching projects, and managing the technology and process. Consultants and organizations pay us the service fee as the work is completed.

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Consultants

What are benefits to joining the Catalyst:Ed network?

Here are some of the benefits that consultants who are a part of our network have perceived:

  • Access new opportunities easily: As a consultant you often have no visibility into organizations’ needs and don’t know what projects are out there. By joining Catalyst:Ed, you get access to a curated list of projects through email alerts that are tailored to your expertise and interests.
  • Work with a trusted adviser: Consultants in our network have appreciated the opportunity to ask us questions about a project or request feedback on a proposal or get a second opinion on a project-related issue knowing that our only interest is in setting them up for success.
  • Broaden your network: We serve organizations nationally, opening up more opportunities for you.
  • Maintain flexibility: You get to choose which projects to work on based on your interest and availability.

Is my information publicly accessible?

No. We take your privacy very seriously. Your profile will not be available to anyone unless you apply for a project or you explicitly give us permission to profile you in a our list of "Featured Experts". If you do apply for a project, we will share your profile information with the organization that posted the project.

I’m relatively new to consulting. Do you offer any support or guidance for newbies?

We anticipate offering webinars and office hours. If you’re interested, email us at info@catalyst-ed.org.

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General

Why was Catalyst:Ed started?

We were seeing more and more education organizations looking for expertise for short-term needs, but unsure on how to find expertise and often lacking the experience to leverage it well. At the same time, we knew a lot of folks with great skills and experiences, who were open to doing short-term work, but felt frustrated by the business development process. What we didn’t see was a way for education organizations to connect with experts quickly, reliably and affordably for their short-term, mission-critical needs. Many conversations over coffee later, Catalyst:Ed was born. For more, check out this blog post.

Is Catalyst:Ed for-profit or non-profit?

We’re neither. Catalyst:Ed is set up as a Benefit Corporation, a newly formed hybrid structure for companies that want to tackle society’s greatest challenges. As a mission-driven organization, our first priority is to maximize our social impact by connecting education organizations to the expertise they need to serve kids and families. We believe we can do this while building a financially sustainable business that does not need to rely on the vagaries of grant funding. Unlike traditional businesses, Benefit Corporations are required to meet higher standards for social and environmental impact as measured and verified by the B Impact Assessment. They are also required to consider the interest of all stakeholders, not just their shareholders.

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