Afton helps develop and execute financial sustainability criteria and evaluation process for national funder of breakthrough school models
Afton collaborated with Next Generation Learning Challenges to develop evaluation criteria, standards, tools and metrics to assess long term financial risks (and opportunities) to the sustainability of applicants to NGLC’s breakthrough schools grant program. Through this work, Afton provided technical assistance to 88 grant team finalists from around the country, and developed comprehensive analysis and assessments on each applicant’s long term financial plans for the grant’s executive committee. The financial assessment was one of the criteria used to award these $250K grants to over 40 breakthrough school teams.
Evolution of the process: During the multi-year phases of this work, Afton worked with our client to develop a process to allow for “office hours” to allow the prospective grantees to submit the best financial plan possible. Though some finalists were not awarded grants due to poor financial plans, it was imperative to give every great idea that could have profound impact on kids’ lives every chance to succeed. So, we dedicated time to working with each applicant, as necessary, to help them develop projections and consider financial scenarios prior to finalizing their applications.
Resource allocation decisions, and each school’s path to sustainability, is very different, and requires further study as academic outcomes are analyzed. Afton collaborated with the Center on Reinventing Education as well as The Learning Accelerator to document and share lessons learned. (links to both reports).
Clearly articulating evaluation criteria, as well as developing a common structure for financial analysis and projections, helps school teams build better plans for sustainability. In partnership with NGLC, Afton communicated the criteria by which each applicant would be measured, and lessons learned from each “round” of the breakthrough grant. As more information and data was shared with each cohort, financial plans submitted became more sophisticated and higher quality. Ultimately, the financial sustainability evaluation criteria first developed for grant team reviewers evolved into material that we could leverage for training school teams.