FOUNDATIONS

Cross & Joftus provided operational support to the District of Columbia’s State Superintendent as she implemented her strategic initiatives. Building on work done for the Joyce Foundation, we also developed an in-depth understanding of the policy and advocacy environment in Illinois for advancing education reform. This project included interviews with key stakeholders and leaders involved in state-level education issues in Illinois. The objective was to determine where and how the philanthropic community could invest effectively in strengthening education reform in the state. In addition, we authored a guide for district leaders on the development of a high-performing system of schools. Cross & Joftus also wrote a guide for district leaders on developing a high-performing system of schools and a policy paper describing the foundation’s vision for high school reform.

Our firm advised superintendents trained by the Broad Center for Superintendents on how to use the No Child Left Behind Act to leverage educational improvement.

Cross & Joftus helped the foundation develop resources to support school districts and other organizations seeking to expand learning time. This work involved identifying financing models for expanded learning time, documenting successful financing strategies that could be replicated in other places, and providing technical assistance to states and localities seeking to sustain expanded learning programs and policies. We also provided technical assistance to five states that were working to better align their after school and early care activities. Finally, we wrote Dollars and Sense: A First Look at Financing a New Day for Learning, a paper on financing strategies for expanded learning.

Cross & Joftus developed, implemented, and evaluated an education policy and advocacy campaign intended to improve education policy making in the states of Kansas and Missouri. On behalf of chairperson Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius, our firm also conducted a strategic planning effort for the Education Commission of the States. Cross & Joftus helped the foundation plan strategically for its multimillion-dollar, 10-year initiative to improve math and science education in the United States. Finally, we drafted a policy paper based on Missouri Governor Matt Blunt’s science, technology, engineering, and math statewide summit.

With the Ford Foundation, we explored different strategies for financing a longer school day in Oakland, California and Elizabeth, New Jersey. In Elizabeth, we also provided support to the superintendent and her cabinet to explore budget options to direct additional expenditures toward key priorities, including expanded learning.

Cross & Joftus analyzed governance and management systems of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg (NC) School System and provided recommendations for improvement, including a blueprint for a citizen’s committee to monitor and support the CMS school system.

Our firm designed and conducted evaluations of the foundation’s biosafety and biocontainment courses for emergency first responders and frontline healthcare workers.

Our firm provided strategic communication support to the Power4Kids Initiative, a $10 million research study of interventions for struggling elementary school readers.

We conducted a review of the foundation’s education grants and that assisted with the development of a strategy for future education grantmaking.

Cross & Joftus is providing support for 7 district grantees to grow, deepen and sustain their work in support of family, school and community partnerships. As part of this work, C&J will coach each district through the development of a long-term budget and a set of strategies to increase funding for successful partnerships through reallocating resources and identifying additional public and private funds. We are also conducting a policy scan of expanded learning in the state of Connecticut and how the passage of ESSA may provide opportunities to further this work.

Our firm developed and implemented a comprehensive, multistage policy development, communications, and advocacy strategy to help translate research on the California education system for whole system improvement.

We studied the creation of state education advocacy organizations across the country to determine lessons learned and the potential impact of new organizations in certain states. We also assisted the foundation and the New Teacher Center in the development of a regional conference consisting of leaders from three states to develop policies for advancing high-quality teacher induction programs in those states, with particular emphasis on the establishment of programs in the major cities.

Cross & Joftus provided support to the Foundation’s leadership team as they implement their District Level Systems Change initiative that creates opportunities to expand student centered learning approaches. This included supporting the foundation in selecting grantees and working with the foundation and grantees to develop sustainability strategies for continuing this work as grant funding sunset. We also reviewed proposals for a new cohort of grantees to assess the potential for long-term sustainability of student-centered learning and worked with grantees to promote the long-term success of this work.

Cross & Joftus conducted a comprehensive needs analysis and developed a strategic plan for Rogers (Arkansas) School District, a rapidly growing and increasingly diverse school district serving 13,000 students. The needs analysis engaged district administrators and community leaders in a process of inquiry that modeled a process of continuous improvement and resulted in the identification of strengths and weaknesses related to the district’s management and governance systems. The strategic planning process used the results of the needs analysis to develop short- and long-term goals, measurable objectives, and actionable strategies that should result in systemic improvement. Cross & Joftus will be working with the school system and Foundation to help implement the strategic plan over the next few years.

In support of the work of Say Yes to Education, C&J produced a video that demonstrates the power of the SYTE model in substantially increasing post-secondary completion by all graduates of Syracuse public schools. In addition, Gene Maeroff, former national education correspondent for the New York Times, has been commissioned to write a book documenting SYTE work in Syracuse. That book, Reforming a School System, Reviving a City: The Promise of Say Yes to Education in Syracuse is scheduled to be published November 19, 2013 by Palgrave Macmillan.

In addition, C&J Chairman Christopher Cross serves as a key adviser to SYTE on matters of strategy.

Cross & Joftus is supporting a three-year project to provide technical assistance on finance and sustainability to the Wallace Foundation’s Next Generation After School Systems Building Initiative. The TA team for this project includes C&J, The National League of Cities, the National Institute of Out-of-School Learning, and the Gardner Center at Stanford University. We are supporting nine cities as they strengthen their afterschool infrastructure, implement quality enhancements and expand OST programming.

In addition, the Wallace Foundation engaged C&J to develop an assessment framework and process for identifying and strengthening alignment with the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) for members of the Expanded Learning Opportunities Professional Learning Community (ELO-PLC).  Building on our approaches being used to support schools and districts that are readying themselves for the CCSS, the ELO CCSS Alignment Project will identify opportunities to build bridges between what programs are currently doing and the Common Core based on the mission and activities of the programs.

C&J was also previously selected by 5 of the 6 Wallace Foundation Principal Pipeline initiative grantees to complete a documentation, led by former partner Monica Rosen, of the change process at each district: New York City DOE, Prince George’s County Public Schools, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, Denver Public Schools and Hillsborough County Public Schools. As a result, C&J was able to report on how five urban districts have established their priorities to build a strong principal pipeline model, including establishing the competencies for an effective principal; preparing, recruiting, screening, and selecting; and developing effective principals in every role.

Cross & Joftus conducted a statewide needs analysis and a strategic plan for a new nonprofit that provides technical assistance to and advocates on the behalf of public charter schools and small, rural, traditional public schools. In partnership with Triand, Inc., Cross & Joftus worked with the Arkansas Department of Education and a consortium of six Arkansas districts to improve the use of data and technology in fostering whole-system improvement. Cross & Joftus conducted an evaluation of district and state implementation of and satisfaction with the statewide data system and provided recommendations to all stakeholders for improvements, including how to use data more effectively to inform the teaching and learning process.