December 12, 2013

Supporting a CMO as it broadens and deepens its impact: IDEA Public Schools

By Bellwether

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About IDEA Public Schools

IDEA Public Schools is a growing network of tuition-free K-12 public charter schools that, in 2011, served more than 9,000 studens in 20 schools, with plans to serve 32,000+ students. IDEA is committed to “College For All Children” and has sent 100% of its graduates to the college or university of their choice for six consecutive years.


In the last three years, Bellwether supported IDEA in a number of ways including:

  • Developing a five-year strategic plan to broaden and deepen impact by opening more schools (detail below)
  • Partnering to develop successful Race to the Top District and i3 applications, yielding over $35 MM
  • Supporting Race to the Top and i3 implementation and project management
  • Developing a detailed financial model to support IDEA’s growth

Our approach

During IDEA’s strategic planning process, Bellwether assessed the external market landscape and assembled a fact-base to help IDEA decide how, when, and where to expand. Bellwether worked collaboratively with IDEA leadership to outline a plan for growth, considering programmatic, operational, and human capital implications. Bellwether developed a five-year strategic plan and a corresponding ten-year financial model to support the sustainable growth of the network over time.


  • $30 MM in RTT-D funding will enable IDEA to improve its groundbreaking personalized learning model, “Better IDEA”
  • $5 MM in i3 funding to support a partnership with local school district Pharr-San Juan-Alamo to develop a best-in-class human capital approach
  • Strategic plan will enable IDEA to open 4-6 schools per year, expanding to a network of 60 schools in the Rio Grande Valley and Central Texas by 2017.  At completion of this phase of growth, IDEA will be the largest single producer of low-income college graduates in the entire state of Texas.

Social impact

In Hidalgo County, where a majority of IDEA schools are located, the poverty rate is more than twice the national average, only 60 percent of residents ages 25 or over have a high-school diploma, and less than 10 percent of adults age 24 or over have a 4-year college degree. IDEA has been able to dramatically improve academic outcomes for students, with 100% of graduates being accepted to a four-year college. Bellwether is committed to helping organizations like IDEA, which offer quality educational choices for families, grow sustainably.

Bellwether’s strategic capabilities

Strategic planning, Grant development and implementation, Project management and implementation support, Financial analysis and modeling

“We’ve worked with a number of consultants over the years, but the relationship that I’ve had with our Bellwether partners has been very special. They have gotten to know our work very deeply, and they both customize their approach to meet our needs while simultaneously ensuring that we benefit from their deep knowledge of the education sector—that’s not easy. They are my go-to people when we need help pursuing a big opportunity and when I’m stuck and need help with a problem.”

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