Analyst Fellows Convene to Discuss Growth and Scale in Education

As part of the Education Pioneers Analyst Fellowship experience, Fellows come together for a series of five convenings to discuss their experiences, share ideas and insights and learn more about the work of other Fellows and Partners.

During the third Analyst Fellowship convening for the Western region, Fellows organized a panel session to dig into the internal and external issues education organizations face in regards to growth.

Three of our valuable Partners helped facilitate the discussion:

  • Tracy Hanna, Director of Growth at KIPP Bay Area Schools
  • Jonathan Schorr, Partner at NewSchools Venture Fund
  • Tracy Session, Senior Managing Director, Oakland at Teach For America

The panelists provided insights and perspectives on growth and scaling within an organization. What were their top tips?

Look at the cost of sustainable growth. You may get an extra infusion of funding for startup and some growth, but don't rely on that funding to sustain your operations indefinitely.

Focus on quality control and pace of growth. Funders tend to pressure an organization to grow, sometimes more aggressively than the organization itself thinks is healthy. Generally, you know when you're scaling for the wrong reasons - you think, "We probably shouldn't, but..."  Focus on quality control and pace of growth, even in the face of pressure from funders.

Prepare your team for change and bring them along. Don't overestimate people's capacity and tolerance for change. Work closely with your team to prepare them for changes that typically accompany growth.

Actively manage your organization's culture. Be particular about staffing; hire for the right mindset in addition to the right skill set.  When you hire leaders who will be managing their own team's culture, bring them in-house first so they can learn the organization's culture and values.

Just because you're doing the right thing doesn't mean people will support you. There will be internal and external resistance to change, even in light of clear, justifiable reasons for pushing forward.  Support can be built on several levels - involving the community, engaging with policy and advocacy and developing the sector.

Want to learn more about education topics and issues? Education Pioneers is a member of Activate ED, which offers several resources, including white papers, articles, studies and more. Visit Activate-ED.org to learn more.

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