Building Influence and Leading Change to Connect K-12 and Postsecondary Systems of Learning at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

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Building Influence and Leading Change to Connect K-12 and Postsecondary Systems of Learning at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

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Title: Building Influence and Leading Change to Connect K-12 and Postsecondary Systems of Learning at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Author: Garcia III, John
Citation: Garcia III, John. 2016. Building Influence and Leading Change to Connect K-12 and Postsecondary Systems of Learning at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard Graduate School of Education.
Access Status: This work is under embargo until 2019-05-01
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Abstract: This capstone documents a strategic project at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation aimed at increasing college readiness and postsecondary success by creating greater alignment and shared collaboration between K-12 and postsecondary systems within the education sector. The core of the strategic project included an analysis culminating in a system-wide framework, theory of action, and set of potential investments focused on the student transition from K- 12 to postsecondary. The project also entailed efforts to move forward in operationalizing the analysis as a set of recommendations once authority was received from leadership. The recommendations focused on the external components of grantmaking activities and internal structures necessary to develop the type of collaborative partnerships within the foundation that is desired between systems in the field. A new portfolio of investments shared between the College Ready (K-12) and Postsecondary (PS) divisions were posited as entry points to creating synergies across the foundation.
Due to the separate divisions of work, both groups had become accustomed to working in silos with no formal method for communication, collaboration and shared innovation. Throughout the research process it became clear that many interventions being funded in either the College Ready or Postsecondary teams had potential applicability across sectors. More importantly, developments in both education sectors regarding the maturity of the Common Core State Standards and postsecondary accountability have created windows of opportunity across the country. Given the intent of the foundation’s leadership to use the strategic project as a learning opportunity to explore new areas of investment, this capstone explores the leadership skills necessary to build influence and lead a change management effort to go from silo-oriented investments to a cross-divisional grantmaking structure in the K- 12/PS transitions space. The review of knowledge for action included in this capstone outlines the principles of effective student transitions across K-12 and postsecondary, and change management. The analysis describes external areas of best practice, the internal culture of the foundation, and the application of change management skills necessary to drive change within the foundation context. The strategic project’s limited impact to drive a K-12/PS transitions strategy is traced back to foundation’s internal leadership changeover, resistance to change, the role of the resident, and the passage of the ESSA. The implications section of this capstone identifies the necessary organizational structures for effective collaboration across divisions, such as authority from leadership, processes/procedures, communications vehicles, and accountability measures. This capstone concludes with the recognition that philanthropy can play a role in supporting systems of collaboration and alignment in the field by convening new partners, supporting the research necessary for leaders to make informed decisions, and creating philanthropic partnerships to drive scale.
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Citable link to this page: http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:27013351
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