Research & Strategy

Since 2013, Ed has built a robust menu of programs that provide Birmingham City students a number of opportunities to engage with professionals on topics related to college access, career exploration, and essential skills. The growth we have experienced over the course of the last four years has been exponential – going from zero to serving nearly 6,000 kids in grades K-12 in over 1,500 hours of programming with the help of more than 600 individual volunteers in the upcoming year. We remain, however, healthily dissatisfied: proud of what we have accomplished while understanding that there is still more work to be done.

What we did.

That’s why, in the early spring of 2017, we began pursuing a robust 18-month strategic planning process. Here’s a snapshot of we did:

  • Convened over 15 cross-constituent focus groups, including students, families, funders, corporate partners, educators, and community members;
  • Hosted 4 local design workshops that encouraged participants to identify city-wide educational goals and priorities;
  • Held 13 1.5-hour interviews with early and recent Birmingham City alums and current BCS employees;
  • Visited with school leaders, non-profit executives, community advocates, district employees and board members, and city officials in Atlanta, Nashville, Chattanooga, and Indianapolis at organizations such as the Mindtrust, Purpose Built Schools, Blue School New York, Broome Street Academy, Stand for Children, Teach for American – Indianapolis, Republic Schools, RedefinEd Atlanta, and Valor Academy;
  • Conducted phone interviews with practitioners spanning both coasts, representing institutions such as Vanderbilt’s Peabody College of Education, the Global Development Incubator, UChicago Consortium on School Research, Education Forward DC, Fund for the City of New York, and the National Network on Research Practice Partnerships.

What’s Next?

In conceptualizing this new model, we are shifting our focus toward identifying system-level needs and aggressively finding, recruiting, and supporting the talented folks in Birmingham and beyond who are the best people for the job. In this way, we will be working within a multi-level framework that is predicated on the following principles: schools as the unit of change, educators as the driving force, community engagement as the necessary foundation, and advocacy as a formal imperative. 

In our first year of implementation of this new strategic vision, Ed will focus primarily on laying a foundation by investing staff capacity toward better understanding the current policy context, engaging with the community, and using data to inform our work. Here is what we plan to accomplish this year:

  • The creation of the Ed Policy Project, a collection of 20-30 briefs on educational policy and best practice, and recommendations for a future policy agenda.
  • Reviewing data to better understand the experience of students and families in Birmingham City Schools, including student achievement, demographics, and environmental factors.
  • Implementation of on-going community engagement campaign in partnership with Birmingham City Schools and the Mayor’s Office, which will include door-knocking, electronic surveys, phone polling, in-person interviews, and focus groups with students and families.

Meet our team here.