By Carrie Stewart

America’s public schools face a great and daunting challenge: to provide globally competitive educational outcomes for all children enrolled in them, regardless of their socioeconomic background.

Over the last several decades, America’s return on investment in public education has been poor. According to an independent task force on U.S. Education Reform and National Security sponsored by the Council on Foreign Relations, “[W]hile the United States invests more in K-12 public education than many other developed countries, its students are ill prepared to compete with their global peers.”

Our children deserve better opportunities. Our schools and their communities deserve them as well. And the solutions we develop must be financially smart and sustainable.

We founded Afton Partners because we’re committed to helping schools and school districts meet this challenge.

We aren’t alone. School district administrators, municipalities and government agencies that fund education, social venture investors, and founders of charter schools all understand the challenges facing our schools and are working hard to address them.

Afton’s mission is specific: To help public school districts and charter school management organizations nationwide become financially and operationally sustainable—and in turn focus resources toward practices that improve student outcomes. We provide financial, operational, and strategic advisory services that help schools and school districts to better align resources, lower their cost of capital, and enhance their ability to raise funds. That’s what we mean by sustainable.

Afton is focused exclusively on public education, and our team members have sat in the chairs of those who we’re advising. Because of that, we have a strong affinity for schools’ missions and school finance, and we understand the impact of our recommendations and actions.

Fittingly, Afton Partners is also a learning organization and a teaching organization. We want to provide ideas, promote discussions, present case studies and examples to others in the field that are helping America’s public schools use resources in smarter ways. We want our work to be replicable and sustainable: as we all learn lessons, they must be leveraged in other school districts as well.

We hope you keep an eye on this blog going forward, join the discussion, and invite us to join yours. By working, thinking, and collaborating with individuals and organizations who share an interest and passion for public education and form strong viewpoints about it, Afton aspires to help lead educational reform and provide ideas and resources to others. By addressing financial sustainability today, we hope to ensure a better future tomorrow—for students, teachers, and communities across the country.

Carrie Stewart is the co-founder and CEO of Afton Partners. She is based in Chicago.