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Frequently Asked Questions


For Organizations

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.

What happens during the needs assessment call?

We help you articulate and prioritize your needs, which helps us develop a detailed project scope that we then share with our expert network. Our clients find the scoping process incredibly helpful and have compared it to "part speaking with an education expert, part speaking with a therapist".

Who are the experts on Catalyst:Ed?

Our membership of vetted experts comprises of prominent professionals who are eager to amplify their impact by working on high impact projects. Their backgrounds range from education specialists to management experts and C-level leaders, from noted academics and researchers to prominent practitioners. Some are affiliated with organizations, while others work as independent consultants. All have a minimum of seven years of experience. 

How are experts vetted?

Professional who apply to the Catalyst:Ed Expert network are vetted through a rigorous 3-stage application, interview and reference check process. We evaluate relevant experience and expertise and look for demonstrated commitment to improving student outcomes. The process also helps us gather the information we need to make more informed matches.

Can an organization browse the database of experts?

Not at this time, since we have promised to maintain the privacy of our professionals. However, organizations that post a project can review the profiles of professionals who bid for the project.

How are organizations matched to experts?

We tag projects along various dimensions, including type (e.g., design, implementation, etc.), domain (e.g., personalized learning, special education, etc.), organization type and geography. We then request proposals from experts whose characteristics match the project requirements. You review the profiles and proposals of all experts who respond and decide whom to interview and whom to work with.

How much do projects cost and how long do they take to complete?

Projects vary greatly in terms of cost and timing depending on factors such as the nature of the project, the level of skills and experience required and time sensitivity of deliverables. We have matched projects ranging from $250 for a 2-hour phone consultation to over $150,000 for a multi-month engagement. 

How are project prices determined?

Experts set their own prices for projects based on work required to achieve the deliverables. Organizations review the bids and decide who they want to work with and at what price. 

Are projects fixed-price or charged by the hour?

In our experience, fixed-price projects with clear milestones and deliverables usually work best, although we have also matched projects that are charged by the hour. 

How much does it cost to submit a project on Catalyst:Ed?

It's free to post a project and receive bids from experts. If you decide to work with an expert that we connect you with, we charge you a nominal service fee of 5% for making the match. 

What happens once a project is posted on Catalyst:Ed?

Once a project is posted, we identify and notify experts with relevant skills, experiences and interests, and invite them to submit project bids. Depending on the project, while some bids may be received within a few hours of a project being posted, others may be received in a few days. Organizations will be notified via email each time a new bid is received. Organizations that would like to interview experts they feel good about can reach out to Catalyst:Ed for help with scheduling interviews. We encourage organizations to make an decision as soon as feasible to ensure that experts remains available.

Do bids need to be accepted as they are or is there scope for negotiation?

Organizations can ask for further details from our experts or propose a revised bid (different bid price, time frame, etc.). However, it is up to the expert whether or not to accept the revised bid.

What happens once a bid is accepted?

Once a bid is accepted, we ask the organization and the expert to complete a project work order form specifying the following:

  • Why: The purpose of the project
  • What: The end deliverables and timing for completing the project
  • By When: Agreed upon intermediate milestones and deadlines
  • How: Key process elements that will be followed to achieve the project milestones and deliverables
  • Who: Clear delineation of critical path tasks between experts and organization team members.
  • Check-in schedule and format (e.g., in-person, by phone, over email) between organization and expert
  • Budget, including estimated number of hours

The work order helps Catalyst:Ed ensure that all parties are on the same page with respect to the project and surfaces any potential for misalignment. Once the work order is completed, we ask the organization and expert to sign a Service Contract with each other and get started right away.

How does payment work?

Catalyst:Ed offers an easy to use payment system through which experts can be paid.

What happens if the project scope needs to change after a project is underway?

That's easy. Just let us know, and we will send you a project scope revision form.

Can an organization hire an expert for a longer term project or for a full-time role?

Yes, we do have options available for these two scenarios. Email us at info@catalyst-ed.org, and we will get in touch with you right away.

What happens if an organization is not satisfied with the work?

Meeting our customers' expectations is core to our mission. Email us at info@catalyst-ed.org if you are dissatisfied for any reason, and we will work with you to ensure a successful outcome.

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.

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For Experts

Is there a vetting process for experts?

Yes. Learn more about our application and vetting process here.

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 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.

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, such as 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.

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 need. Email us at info@catalyst-ed.org if you need some more guidance. 

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.

What happens if the organization that I was matched up with for a project wants to continue working with me for future projects?

That would be a great outcome - we are happy for you and ask that you pay us a nominal fee equal to 5% of the accepted project bid amount.

I work for a firm/vendor that provides services to organizations on a contract basis. Can I apply to be a part of the Catalyst:Ed network?

Yes, you may. You can apply as an individual or on behalf of the firm. The firm level application is best if you are applying on behalf of a mid- to large-sized firm with multiple areas of expertise. That way even as we “tag” you with your individual areas of expertise in our system, we also have a sense of the additional capabilities that your firm may bring to support work that you may do on projects. E.g., a consultant with solid strategic planning expertise may work with a firm that also brings technology expertise (even though she herself may not have those skills). On the other hand, if you primarily work as an independent consultant or with a smaller boutique consulting firm, the individual level application would be a better fit. Either way, you must commit to being a part of the team on any project that you bid on.  

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 and without an upfront cost to organizations or experts. 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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General

What is Catalyst:Ed?

Catalyst:Ed is a service that connects education leaders and professionals with organizations that need expert help for short-term, mission-critical projects. Our goal is to make it easier for organizations to tap into the expertise they need to serve students and families better. Our technology platform enables us to quickly and efficiently make matches, providing organizations with access to the expertise they need and professionals with opportunities to work on impactful and rewarding projects.

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 only for education organizations or can other non-profit organizations also benefit from its services?

Although Catalyst:Ed's focus is on education organizations, we would be delighted to connect nonprofits working in other areas with the experts in our talent library.

Can I refer an expert to Catalyst:Ed?

Catalyst:Ed has grown primarily through referrals, and we greatly appreciate your spreading the word. Please use this form to Refer an Expert for inclusion in our database.

Would Catalyst:Ed consider partnerships with third-parties?

Absolutely. We consider all partnership opportunities that align with our mission, values and strategy. If you are interested in pursuing a partnership with us, please contact us at info@catalyst-ed.org.

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