Turning Bold Ideas Into Education Impact

Students line up on socially distanced dots painted on the sidewalk to wait their turn to have their temperatures checked before entering Middletown High School.

What is the resource?

Rooted in promising practices from the education sector, A Pragmatic Playbook for Impact: Direct, Widespread, and Systemic is a new resource produced by Bellwether Education Partners and New Profit. This playbook is for education entrepreneurs – people who lead efforts to transform or improve education systems – to maximize their impact and advance equity, even during moments of urgency and crisis such as the COVID-19 pandemic.

Why it matters

Turning ideas into impact requires a strong strategy. However, translating ideas for change in real – world settings, especially to achieve population – level change, requires thinking about impact at three levels:

  • Direct Impact: How an organization provides programming directly to its target beneficiaries.
  • Widespread Impact: How an organization builds the capacity of partner organizations to replicate elements of its program model.
  • Systemic Impact: How an organization shifts mindsets, relationships, and power to in turn shift the policies, practices, and resource flows that create stronger conditions for adoption of an organization’s values, program model, and its ultimate vision for change.

In the education field, many social entrepreneurs – who may be teachers, nonprofit leaders, advocates, designers, policymakers, or funders – bring big, bold ideas on how to make education more effective, equitable, and transformative for students. But students need education reform to go beyond big ideas to the successful implementation and measurement of strategies that create real change. For example, many education leaders state they want to make education more equitable, especially for groups of children and young people who have experienced greater barriers and fewer privileges to help navigate education systems. This resource helps education entrepreneurs assess where they’ve faced the greatest challenges to achieving more equitable education systems and how to better target and evaluate strategies to achieve their goals.

What’s inside

Here’s a sampling of what’s in the playbook:

  • Design considerations to consider when first developing a Direct Impact model.
  • How organizations maximize fidelity of implementation of more intensive Widespread Impact models.
  • How organizations extend their work into Systemic Impact strategies to create the conditions necessary for their program model to achieve and sustain scale.
  • How organizations balance work across these three impact strategies — including aligning it with their theory of change, building out the organizational capabilities to execute across these strategies, and understanding how these strategies impact financial sustainability.
  • Three case studies showing how education nonprofits are effectively implementing Direct, Widespread, and Systemic Impact in the field.

To learn more about the playbook and access the slide presentation from a recent webinar featuring education leaders who have implemented some of the ideas from the playbook, click here.

A Pragmatic Playbook for Impact: Direct, Widespread, and Systemic