Case Study: Guadalupe Centers Charter Schools

Case Study: Guadalupe Centers Charter Schools


Guadalupe Centers Charter Schools

The Challenge

The Guadalupe Centers Charter Schools network, based in Kansas City, Mo., began with an alternative high school focused on dropout prevention serving 15 students in the basement of a church. Now operating four schools and serving the full preschool through 12th grade continuum, Guadalupe Centers Charter Schools is dedicated to the success of more than 1,000 students each year, primarily from Latino families and lower-income backgrounds. The network engaged Insignia Partners to develop a long-term strategic plan that would be grounded in what families needed from the school, and flexible enough to adapt to new challenges impacting students’ learning.


Our Scope
  • School Quality Review
  • Strategic Planning
  • Implementation Consultation
  • Ongoing Support

Established in 1918 in Kansas City, Mo., Guadalupe Centers holds the distinction of being the longest continuously operating agency serving Latinos in the United States. In the 1980s, Guadalupe Centers formalized its longstanding focus on education by creating its first school, an alternative high school aimed at dropout prevention. Today, Guadalupe Centers Charter Schools is a network of four schools serving the full preschool through 12th grade continuum. With ambitious goals centered on academic achievement for all students, Guadalupe Centers Charter Schools needed a plan to guide its day-to-day decision-making and operations that would reflect what families needed from the schools as well as centered on the most impactful goals, objectives, and action steps.

Education isn’t cut-and-dried; the work is constantly changing. Insignia Partners has helped us work through challenges as they come up -- working better as a system, addressing issues in a productive manner, and growing as an organization.
Joe Palmer, Superintendent, Guadalupe Centers Charter School

The Insignia Partners team, led by Marisol Rodriguez, began the process with a deep dive into clearly defining the targets that the plan would work toward. They brought together widely representative groups of families, teachers, administrators and Board members for rich focus-group discussions. Those conversations informed the development of five pillars upon which the plan was constructed, including clear goals, objectives, and action steps. Anything but cookie-cutter, the process pushed Guadalupe Centers Charter Schools to surface what their stakeholders valued, and what actions would be most impactful in working toward those goals.

“Insignia Partners didn’t let us just scoot by with what we thought was important. They really probed and made us think differently about our organization and where we wanted to go.”
-Joe Palmer, Superintendent, Guadalupe Centers Charter School

Over five months, Insignia Partners worked closely with Guadalupe Centers to shape a comprehensive plan that addressed every part of the network’s operations, from academics to culture. Through in-person facilitation, group conference calls, and one-on-one consultation, Insignia Partners created a true partnership with network leaders and stakeholders in the planning process.

Insignia Partners is really good at identifying what needs to be done, without saying exactly how you need to do it. They allowed us some autonomy, and that’s a strength.
Steve Lumetta, Assistant Superintendent, Guadalupe Centers Charter School

After the planning process concluded in the fall of 2018, Guadalupe Centers Charter School brought Insignia Partners back regularly to guide its implementation — monthly for a full year, now three times per year. Network leaders point to Insignia’s personal, relationship-driven approach as well as the intensive level of involvement as key to their ability to implement the plan with success. 

“This has been an ongoing process and a big part of what we do day-to-day. We didn’t just throw a plan on the shelf. It’s a working document; that’s the best thing about it.”
Joe Palmer, Superintendent, Guadalupe Centers Charter School

The combination of a strong plan and support to see it through is showing results, as network leaders work the plan to improve everything from academics to culture to student support.

We’ve tightened up our instructional model and staff development. We’ve seen a positive change in culture among our leadership team and teacher teams, with greater opportunities for teacher voice. We’ve made really strong gains in student attendance. And all of that is translating into more students meeting growth targets in our interim assessments.
Steve Lumetta, Assistant Superintendent, Guadalupe Centers Charter School

What our Clients Say

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"Please know that today's session for DEA's leadership team was one of the most productive we've had in a while. The level of discussion and engagement helped shape the thoughts, and hopefully, meaningful actions for immediate practice. You and Lisa kept the momentum going"
Sylvia Green
School Leaders, David Ellis Academy
"We could not have been more pleased with our partnership with Insignia Partners. They were able to form relationships and analyze both data and people to help us, as funders, know which levers to pull and areas to invest. They make this work, which is difficult in nature, interesting, fun, and real. We look forward to partnering with them again and would recommend them to all."
Noah Devine
Director of Educational Investments, School Smart Kansas City
"I am speechless. Honestly, I have never participated in as deep or meaningful, complex, unwieldy but completely authentic conversation. And to think it was not face to face. It will stay with me for a long time. I hope it does linger because there were so many layers it will take time for me to learn all there was to learn. "
Parry Burnap
Community Member
"I just wanted to thank Insignia Partners for their hard work on this! It turned out really great! I’m excited and looking forward to the excellence this will bring to Trillium as well as rolling up our sleeves and getting the work done! I feel like the time and energy put forth has already had a positive impact on the school and the task work hasn’t even happened yet!"
Angela Romanowski
Superintendent, Trillium Academy
"I feel like you hit it out of the park with Insignia Partners. Those ladies were amazing. They brought out all of our best qualities."
Alicia Jenkins
Principal, Summit Academy North Middle School
"I really enjoy working with the Insignia Partners team. They consistently produce high-quality work, and are a pleasure to work with. They know the education reform space, and therefore provide thoughtful guidance. I expect to work with them again and again."
Eric Paisner
Chief of Staff, National Alliance for Public Charter Schools
"Insignia Partners did a masterful job leading our board through a strategic planning exercise. They balanced our need for flexibility with our desire to achieve ambitious goals in a short period. They expertly managed a diverse array of voices and opinions in a way that resulted in a clear set of strategies that will accelerate the impact of our organization."
Van Schoales
Chief Executive Officer, A+ Denver
"Thank you again for what you did for AAE and how you did it. You were patient, confident, helpful, and supportive, but you also coaxed and lovingly nudged us through a comprehensive and involved process that on our own we wouldn’t have been able to do. It was a very pleasant experience and left us better suited to overcome the challenges and maximize the opportunities ahead."
Colin Sharkey
Executive Vice President, Association of American Educators
"Insignia Partners helped identify and convene key stakeholders in our region and use their input to craft a program start-up plan. Their connections, expertise, and execution were vital to getting our program off to a great start."
Gregory Handel
Senior Director, Detroit Regional Chamber
"Insignia partners have been critical in supporting Bluum’s efforts in Idaho to manage our $17.1 million federal Charter School Program (CSP) grant. As one of the country’s first non-profit organizations to receive federal CSP funding the stakes for our work are very high, and our efforts to help open, expand and replicate public charter schools faces scrutiny. I sleep better at night because I know Insignia Partners have worked closely with us to build our processes, procedures and play book for managing the responsibility of directing and overseeing a significant federal grant. Their support and expertise have been critical to our efforts. I would highly recommend them to others working in the public charter school space. They are true pros."
Terry Ryan
CEO, Bluum
"Insignia Partners goes above and beyond their call of duty. Their working style is such that we were not only confident in their strategic planning work, but we were even more confident in their dedication to the mission of MCSA and the sincere concern they showed for Mississippi’s unique political environment."
Erika Berry
Executive Director, Mississippi Charter Schools Association
"Insignia Partners responded to an RFP with thoughtful and detailed ideas. Once they were chosen for the project, we found them to be responsive, flexible, and timely. We were very pleased with their report and it has provided the backbone for our funding strategy. I look forward to working with Marisol again in the future."
Elise Eplan
Facilitator, The Education Philanthropic Collaborative Fund
"Insignia Partners is the hottest strategy planning team in the country. And they’re damn funny too!"
Caroline Roemer Shirley
Executive Director, Louisiana Association of Public Charter Schools
"Thank you so much for your support throughout this amazing process. You accommodated, synthesized, and listened to our ideas so gracefully and thoroughly. As Council members stated, you worked miracles, especially when it counted in the end. We couldn’t have done it without you."
Sebastian Andrews
Youth Advocate
"Our new organization needed the steady direction of Insignia Partners to help turn our thoughts and ideas into a strategic plan. Marisol guided us through the process, which allowed us to be true to our objectives as an organization. They were always available, and we are grateful for their guidance and professionalism."
Julie Collier
Founder and Executive Director, Parents Advocate League
"Marisol has been the facilitator, partner and coach I needed to move several challenging projects and situations forward. She doesn’t always tell me what I want to hear, but she always tells me what I NEED to hear."
Greg Richmond
President, National Association of Charter School Authorizers
"Thank you for everything you did to get us from a first meeting where we didn’t know each other and were leery of where everyone stood to today where we are actually sad that it’s over. Don’t know how we get to this place without your work."
Kathie A. Barstnar
Executive Director | NAIOP Colorado - Climate Action Task Force Member
"Marisol was an incredible facilitator. We had a group who came in mad at each other and entrenched in their opposition. It was contentious, but Marisol navigated it deftly and with humor. She helped everyone at the table to see each other as people, not positions, and helped the group navigate a complete change in plans due to the COVID-19 pandemic hitting right in the middle of our task force meetings. She kept everyone motivated, on task, and moving forward with a very tight timeline, and got the group to 100% consensus at the end. Marisol is amazing, and we could not have done it without her!"
Jolon Clark
President of Denver City Council
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