Black Mountain, Marin Co.
Optimizing Investments In Educational Improvement
Many agencies and foundations invest in educational improvement. We help optimize those investments so they improve the capacity of the education system to improve itself.  

Our group has accumulated more than 200 person-years of experience studying hundreds of investments in education improvement—large and small, made by many kinds of funders—carried out over the past 25 years.  We build on that experience to bring insights to the design and implementation of new investments.

We study, interpret, and share our thinking in the following ways:

Identifying Opportunities

We help position funders for successful investments in educational improvement. We use our knowledge of the education landscape to match the mission and capacity of the funder with problems that are “investable.”

Conceptualizing and Planning

We help funders and project leaders think about their initiatives in new ways.  We interrogate the logic model and the design to clarify the intended returns on the investment and to increase its potential to generate educational capital.


We assess the value of investments in educational improvement. We can serve as critical friends, using our perspective and data to shape and guide a new program.  We can serve as summative evaluators, assessing the contributions of an initiative to educational improvement.


We work in partnership with funders to launch and operate their initiatives. As an independent group whose only agenda is to optimize the investment, we offer neutrality as well as experience and knowledge.
``The Investment is our client.``

“Our client is neither the funder nor the project director—our client is the investment. Our job is to optimize investment by studying it, providing strong feedback about it, guiding it.”

– Mark St. John, Founder and President