Strategy Decision Support

A Foundation needed to make sense out of a rapidly-growing and often-contradictory body of research in order to assess its impact and identify areas for future investment.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation's Postsecondary Success team also needed to figure out how to convey research findings accurately but succinctly to internal and external audiences, and to create a system for regularly and consistently updating research findings. To help, over an18-month engagement, Phase Two systematically assessed the growth and efficacy of the Foundation's strategies across the higher education sector. We developed clear evidence standards, metrics definitions, and methods for aggregating findings across studies. We then developed written and visual products summarizing findings for internal and external foundation audiences. These products rigorously distilled complex findings into simple, evidence-based conclusions about the potential impact of various reforms. With a clear sense of the evidence, Phase Two Advisory set about documenting reform trends and areas in need of future investment. 

Building a collective impact strategy

The College in High School Alliance needed to take its activities to the next step.

The College in High School Alliance, a coalition organizations committed to high-quality dual enrollment and early college high school, launched in 2016 to advocate for strong federal and state college-in-high school policies as part of the Every Child Succeeds Act (ESSA). With the successful inclusion of high school-in-college as part of states' ESSA plans, the Alliance sought to clarify its mission and identify strategies for greater impact.

Supported by the Joyce Foundation, Phase Two Advisory designed a two-day planning retreat with the Alliance's five core partners. We designed the retreat to help partners clearly identify their collective goals and set a clear target for future work. With clarity around the group's "north star," Phase Two led them through exercises designed to tease out the activities most likely to help them reach their goals. We identified three pillars of work; those three pillars now frame the Alliance's activities and are the linchpin of an ongoing fundraising and strategic planning process.