Solutions Overview

Follow Through is the New Innovation

In public education, it’s often easy to move on to the next big idea. We believe, instead, in making sure we finish what we’ve started—that’s the only way to achieve results for young people. In fact, our mantra is that follow through is the new innovation. To continue supporting students and teachers to meet high standards, building stronger schools and systems and increasing capacity in public education, our clients need creative strategies, innovative solutions, pragmatic implementation and smarter collaboration.

We aspire to be the most trusted and effective education consultants in the nation. Our clients hire us because they want a true partner who will counsel, push and support them to excel. We bring expertise in the issues, the politics, the messages and the messiness of getting the real work done in education. We are committed to the highest expectations for excellence and results, no matter how challenging the path to get there is. We have a shared passion for supporting all children, especially Black, Indigenous and other students of color, toward a world of opportunity otherwise denied. We cultivate deep, trusting relationships nurtured over time and built on honesty and shared values, not on maximizing profit opportunities.

Research for Action


Education First delivers research and analysis that help organizations ask the right questions, probe the root causes of problems, understand the perspectives of stakeholders and experts, benchmark against other organizations and identify the right solutions for their unique context. Our approach, informed by our experience as educators and school leaders and our extensive knowledge of the preschool-through-postsecondary landscape, is practical and action-oriented. Whether we’re designing a new program strategy or recommending change to an existing system, we help state education agencies, school districts, policymakers, funders and others get to the heart of the problem they want to address with quality research, honest feedback and meaningful recommendations for action.

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Design Equitable Strategy

solutions oveview

You want better, more equitable outcomes for students. That requires a living strategic plan that embodies your community’s values, articulates your intended impact and spells out bold actions to achieve the goals. Education First supports organizations to become more people-focused, inclusive, equitable and coherent. Our strategic planning, program design and organizational effectiveness projects center the voices of people who are closest to the problems you are trying to solve. Tapping into our team’s extensive on-the-ground experience, we help you navigate thorny challenges, explore a range of solutions and make tough but necessary choices about what you will and will not do. Along the way, you will gain new problem-solving tools, expertise and confidence in your future direction.

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Coach, Convene and Build Capacity


Big changes require big shifts in thinking. Education First can help you create the intentional opportunities your staff, project team or network needs to reflect and improve together. We design and facilitate convenings, workshops and retreats that are grounded in best practices in adult learning–with opportunities for participants to explore job-embedded problems, practice and apply what they’ve learned and increase their sense of agency. Through our informed facilitation, executive advising and convening design, we shape powerful learning experiences for communities of practice and help system leaders build capacity, transform individual and organizational practice and take collective action.

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Invest for Impact


Education First helps funders develop more thoughtful, equitable and effective investment strategies that are anchored in our deep understanding of public education’s assets and needs. We offer funder research, strategy, facilitation and implementation support that centers the strengths and desires of the communities your organization seeks to serve. We can help you envision a better future for public education, understand trends and gaps in the sector, identify strategic grantmaking opportunities and portfolios, convene your grantees for networking and learning; and connect with other funders to learn, align or pool your grantmaking. We have particular expertise supporting collaborations among foundations. Having advised and helped manage dozens of funder collaborations over nearly 15 years, we understand what causes some to flourish and others to flounder. We can help your funder collaboration to achieve lasting impact in the field.

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What’s next? Action steps to help you benefit from our expertise:

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