Case Study: National Alliance for Public Charter Schools

Case Study: National Alliance for Public Charter Schools


National Alliance for Public Charter Schools

The Challenge

The National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, a nonprofit organization based in Washington, D.C., advocates for the growth of high-quality public charter schools with federal and state lawmakers and works with state charter support organization (CSO) leaders to share best practices.

Our Scope
  • Meeting design and facilitation
  • Organizational development
  • Leadership coaching
  • Program design

The long-standing relationship between Insignia Partners and the leadership team of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools is based on trust.

“They are really thorough,” said Lisa Grover, the senior director of state advocacy and support for the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools.

“They follow up. They bring ideas. They are willing to expand project parameters. They focus on outcomes and know we prefer outcome-based projects.”

Insignia Partners brings a strong background in charter school work to the relationship with the National Alliance. Marisol previously worked for the National Alliance and the Walton Family Foundation.

“They really understand the charter school world, and that’s an important benefit. They understand the limitations, the way of thinking of these leaders, the challenges and successes in those roles.”
Lisa Grover, Senior Director of State Advocacy and Support for the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools

Insignia Partners has worked with the National Alliance on two major projects:

1. The New Sector Development Community of Practice

The National Alliance is currently helping partners in Alabama and Mississippi launch their charter school movements after both states recently enacted charter school laws (Alabama in 2015 and Mississippi in 2013). As part of this effort, Insignia Partners is helping CSO leaders in these two states build a team of partners – including community leaders, educators, and business executives – to implement their laws in ways that will lead to great charter schools in these two states.

Emily Schultz is the director of state advocacy and policy for the National Alliance. Previously, she was the executive director of the Alabama Coalition for Public Charter Schools. She said the New Sector Development Community of Practice project developed by and with Insignia Partners has put Alabama and Mississippi charter leaders on a solid path.

“It is soup to nuts,” Schultz said. “They helped me assess what each team had to work with, helped me through conversations with the teams. They looked at the expertise around the table and helped them see what they were missing and create a differentiated strategic planning process.”

Schultz also said Insignia Partners assisted Alabama and Mississippi leaders in envisioning what success in five, 10 and 15 years would look like, then backward map from there to identify a detailed action plan. Marisol helps outline agendas for Community of Practice meetings, then facilitates the discussions.

“They are our accountability partners, our thought partners”
Emily Schultz, Director of State Advocacy and Policy for the National Alliance

“This is where Marisol’s preparation and facilitation come into play. She helps everybody work together more efficiently. We don’t get stuck and dwell on a topic. She finds ways to give leadership groups a lens to understand and identify solutions.”

2. Master Classes

Insignia Partners worked with National Alliance for Public Charter Schools leaders and state CSO leaders to plan and execute professional development trainings – or master classes. Todd Ziebarth, senior vice president for state advocacy and support, has been with the National Alliance since 2005.

“It’s high-quality training every time,” Ziebarth said. “They were key in putting the programs together. They do a great job running the meetings.”

Master classes were conducted three to four times a year and each all-day session is focused on a leadership skill. Topics have included communications, advocacy, and more.

“CSO leaders want applications and strategies, documents and ideas,” Grover said. “Not just talking; it has to be actionable, otherwise we would lose them. When we talk about building a membership base and identifying contacts, Marisol gives them tools to go back to their states and recruit members or deal with difficult members or problems.

“Not many strategic planners or facilitators have that understanding. I’ve worked with many, and Insignia Partners gets it done.”

What our Clients Say

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"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
"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
"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
"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
"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
"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
"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
"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
"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
"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
"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
"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
"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
"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
"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
"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
"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
"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
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