Five powerhouse experts and one high-achieving team from the network took time to speak with us about their “secret sauce” for a smooth project process, outcomes that everyone is excited about, and lessons they’ve learned when engagements with clients have not panned out that way.
In The Learning Accelerator (TLA) and Catalyst:Ed’s respective work with education leaders and professional service experts we’ve learned that access to quality external consultants and supports can be a common, critical component to success. That’s why we’re excited to launch a pilot of the Innovative Learning Expert Hub (ILEx).
Earlier this year, we launched the DEI Expert Hub, so these leaders could connect with experienced DEI coaches, consultants, and technical assistance providers. Six months in, we’ve provided hands-on guidance to over 30 schools, nonprofits, and foundations as they’ve navigated the process of articulating their DEI needs, scoping their projects, and identifying expert supports. Hundreds more have used the website to explore project options. Over the course of our expert intake process, we’ve also got to know over 70 DEI coaches, consultants, and technical assistance providers. Through each of these conversations and interactions we’re gaining insight into the drivers and barriers for organizations and experts taking on this work. We share a few of these lessons here.
We are excited to announce that the Catalyst:Ed Summer selection cycle opened yesterday.
Catalyst:Ed was founded on the premise that we can catalyze impact and improve outcomes for all young people by leveraging the best education expertise to solve the most pressing challenges. A year and a half later, we have had the privilege of getting to know over 400 outstanding education leaders who bring deep expertise vital to the effectiveness and dynamism of our education ecosystem. We’ve watched in awe as they’ve rolled up their sleeves and helped schools, schools systems, nonprofits and grantmakers complete critical projects and address major challenges. And we’ve deepened our resolve to identify the best and most diverse talent in education and amplify their impact so we can together help our educators, families and kids.
The Catalyst:Ed Expert Code of Conduct applies to the experts in our network. It is derived from our mission and values, and informed by our collective experiences as education leaders. It can be summed up as: “Act with integrity, treat each other with respect, and work in the best interest of kids”.
The CE Expert Code of Conduct articulates the high expectations we have from CE Experts as it relates to their work and interactions with clients. In exchange, we promise to do our utmost to provide our Experts with the support they need to meet to these expectations.
Intermediary organizations play a critical role in the afterschool ecosystem by connecting OST providers to each other and to other stakeholders - including policymakers, funders, parents and communities. In this post, we share (1) three guiding principles, (2) five ideas for projects and (3) a few key considerations to expand provider capacity.
Happy 2017! I hope the year is off to a great start for you.
At Catalyst:Ed, we've had an introspective start to the year. I'm incredibly proud of what we achieved as a team in 2016, our first full year of operations. We helped almost a hundred K-12 education organizations address some of their most critical challenges and grew our network to more than 400 outstanding experts, each of whom brings deep know-how in an area vital to education
We have exciting news to share with you. Catalyst:Ed has partnered with the National Afterschool Association (NAA) to develop the Afterschool Expert Hub. Nested within the larger Catalyst:Ed network, this unique service will specifically focus on meeting the needs of the 10,000+ afterschool and expanded learning program providers and partners around the country by helping them connect with experts for projects and professional development.
Here are two things that happened earlier this week:
From an email:
Expert: "Hey, the project scope says the project will have a deliverables-based contract. Can you explain what that means?"
From a scoping conversation with a client:
Catalyst:Ed: "Do you have any thoughts on whether this should be a fixed price contract or an hourly contract?"
If you ask consultants about the least favorite part of their jobs, proposal writing usually ranks in the top three. Drafting a proposal can be an unpleasant task for many reasons: it can seem impersonal and one-sided, you often don't have as much information about the project as you'd like and pitching yourself in writing can feel uncomfortable.
But there are consultants who have learned to love the task. The act of writing a proposal forces them to slow down and pay attention: to internalize the needs of the project and determine whether they are the right fit.
Finding the right expert in a world of incomplete information
A few months ago, we were in the market to buy a house. A newly constructed home in our preferred neighborhood was beyond our budget, so we focused on the older houses. Built about a century ago, these came loaded with charm. Unfortunately, as our realtor often reminded us, they could also come loaded with issues. More than outdated layouts and rusty fixtures, we needed to be concerned about potential disasters hiding behind walls, under floors and above ceilings – think flood damage, old plumbing and wiring, termites, mold. As potential buyers, our real concern was not what we knew, but what we didn’t know.
Like all great conversations, this one left me with plenty to think about. A good friend and I had just spent an hour brainstorming ideas for building authorizer capacity. As we looked at our list, however, we realized that we had a problem. Much of the work needed expert short-term talent, and identifying, recruiting, vetting and matching talent to the work was a daunting task. Wasn’t it ironic, we mused, that education had a large, growing pool of experienced and expert professionals – yet schools and nonprofits that need expertise for short-term, mission-critical work find it difficult to access the right talent quickly, reliably and affordably? Wouldn’t it be great if there were a network of “catalysts” that organizations could call upon when the right opportunities for leveraging their expertise emerged?