During the summer of 2021, Credera piloted a new, pro bono consulting program as a part of Credera’s new philanthropic arm, Credera Community Impact (CCI). CCI is focused on making an extraordinary impact on people of all ages, backgrounds, and cultures who are circumstantially blocked from reaching their full potential. It also allows for Credera team members to live out our core values by helping our communities achieve their goals.
This pro bono consulting program resulted in two projects that helped a Phoenix area charter school, while also providing an opportunity for consultants and senior consultants to use and grow their professional skills to make a lasting impact on their communities.
For its pilot year, the program was composed of two U.S.-based teams of five consultants and senior consultants in our Technology and Management Consulting Practices, under the mentorship of Credera senior leaders. These teams scoped and delivered end-to-end projects with a nonprofit partner throughout the summer, flexing beyond the experience they might normally be exposed to on a project at their level.
Any good pilot deserves strong names, so the project teams were aptly named Project Maverick and Project Goose.
Who Is Empower College Prep?
When looking for an organization to partner with during the pilot, the program team sought out organizations focused on impacting people who are circumstantially blocked from reaching their full potential and ideally focused on providing STEM education-based awareness and opportunities. That search, and a connection through one of our firm’s partners, led us to Empower College Prep (ECP), a nonprofit charter school in Phoenix, Arizona area, where 98% of students are below the poverty line and 96% are POC, that prepares disadvantaged youth for college. It was founded in 2010 with the mission "to prepare scholars to succeed in college, solve real-world problems, and maximize their impact in the world.”
In discussions with ECP, two opportunities arose for the project teams to tackle.
Project Maverick: Community Outreach
Brian Holman, ECP’s executive director, said that ECP’s goal is to “engage families and the community to dramatically improve the well-being and increase the stability of the students and families in our school community.” The school achieves this by creating community outreach programs to address needs beyond the classroom.
Unfortunately, when COVID-19 hit in March 2020, ECP had to pause all existing outreach programs, including food donation deliveries and ESL classes. As ECP prepared to return to in-person classes and to reengage with the community, Project Maverick was able to step in to help ECP create a plan for evaluating and deciding what community outreach programs should be prioritized based on level of impact and effort.
ECP completed a needs assessment prior to COVID-19 shutdowns that detailed the primary categories of impact they sought to focus on and preliminary ideas for programs to address them. Working closely with ECP’s community director, Kristina Peltin Fuentes, Project Maverick took this foundation and expanded upon it through interviews with stakeholders across the school and outside research to compile a list of five prioritized programs to deliver the most impact in their community. They also created a rubric to evaluate future community outreach opportunities. These opportunities ranged from job prep workshops to starting a community farm.
A subset of Project Maverick’s final readout materials, outlining the team’s top recommendations.
Project Goose: Micro-Schools Expansion Strategy
ECP is always looking for ways to better serve its current students and to expand its reach in the community. The shifts in the education sector created by COVID-19 and the increase in demand for personalized, flexible, quality education in the Phoenix area and beyond created an opportunity for ECP to consider other forms of education as a means of expansion.
ECP leadership wanted to explore the unique education format of micro-schools. Micro-schools are small institutions where students are enabled to personalize their education and are held accountable for their own progress through blended learning programs that mix online and in-person instruction.
Project Goose stepped in to help ECP evaluate micro-schools in terms of feasibility, sustainability, and mission and vision alignment. After conducting interviews with the staff and completing market research, the team determined micro-schools would be a strategic opportunity for ECP to consider for expansion and began creating tooling that would help with execution.
The team identified four segments of students ECP could serve, created a financial tool to help them consider costs of a launch, and developed a roadmap with key questions to consider as they begin to expand. Each of these deliverables were used as inputs into the staff and board’s decision to pursue micro-schools as an expansion strategy and will hopefully help ECP expand the impact it has in Phoenix and beyond.
“Credera was strategic in looking at our needs and our strengths to make aligned strategies that bring families and students together, thinking through both short-term and long-term pathways that set Empower College Prep apart from other schools,” said Holman.
What Did Our Participants Have to Say About the Opportunity?
"Participating in this program granted me the opportunity to learn and exercise management consulting skills that are not as prevalent on technology projects. This in turn gave me an even deeper appreciation for our management consultants and made me a more well-rounded consultant." - Amanda Bsaibes, Senior Consultant and Project Goose Team Member
“We provided our team with opportunities to stretch beyond their skills to help make an extraordinary impact on our community partners. Serving as a mentor for one of our two teams allowed me to create an empowering, safe space for our team to work outside their comfort zone and own a client-facing project from start to finish.” - Kara Williams, Partner and Project Mentor
After a successful pilot, this program is expanding in 2022 with plans to have project teams partnering with organizations across our U.S. locations. We are excited for the opportunity this affords our consultants early in their careers to connect their talents and passions with purpose-driven organizations impacting the communities we work and play in.
To learn more about how Credera lives out our mission to make an extraordinary impact in our communities, check out this video.
If you’re interested in joining a firm that cares about giving back to the community and developing leaders at all levels, explore our open opportunities here.