While each engagement is different, typically there are four or five phases of the work.
Phase One – Context and relationship-building
Create conditions for success, build teams, finalize year-long calendar.
- Interviews, document review, context
- Launch work teams
- Solidify goals, approach, calendar
Phase Two – Norming
Norm frameworks and tools, ensure common understanding of goals.
- In-person and online training
- Case studies, readings, discussion
- “Micro content” — just-right information
Phase Three – Self-assessment and emerging plan
Provide technical assistance, facilitate self-assessment, and start emerging action plan
- Some remote, some in person
- Team images in self-assessment, with triangulation
- TWS team supports process of shared assessment of assets and need for change
Phase Four – Implementation Planning
Complete action plan and solidify a collective action team
- Invest stakeholders
- Sequence the work
- Ensure clear ownership with right skill and will
Phase Five – Implementation Support
Identify areas of action plan where TWS can kickstart the work.
We customize our approach to meet the needs of our clients, whether it’s a light touch or a deep dive.
P-Framework. The P-Framework is a comprehensive approach to conducting an organizational assessment. At its core, the P-Framework and accompanying tools help complex organizations of all sizes examine how their values or principles are — and are not — translating to everything from how they think about talent to how they execute their core strategy.
EQUITY Framework and Self-Assessment Tools for School Systems. We have integrated the research on anti-biased, anti-racist organizations, behavior modification, achievement motivation, risk and resilience, school culture and climate, and social and emotional learning — along with promising practices from restorative justice, PBIS, MTSS, RTI, and culturally responsive teaching — into one set of actionable, non-jargony tools.
The EQUITY Framework has six competencies, and each competency has three to five indicators of success. We’ve broken this down into a set of “look fors” in the form of a school-based self-assessment and a system-based self-assessment.
In essence, our self-assessment helps school teams understand where they are in building school culture and students supports,against the fourth leg of the stool and what it will take to make progress
ThirdWay Solutions’ team members, projects, and goals are laser-focused on equity, and have been since our founding six years ago. Our core team and our extensive network of independent contractors have a proven track record of personal commitment to anti-biased, anti-racist work. We are also recognized for getting results in a diverse range of fields — from school reform and child welfare to marketing and organizational culture.
Most importantly, our clients appreciate the lens we bring to the work. According to client surveys, 100% of them say they would recommend us to peer organizations. They say we are different because we embrace tensions inherent in realizing deep change.
- We have field-tested tools and research-based resources — AND we believe context matters so we listen and tailor our work.
Our approach has been honed by working with nearly 50 clients and through decades of leadership experience across sectors. Our frameworks and tools are detailed and help our partners quickly diagnose areas of strength and things that need to change.
AND, we support the work of naming, sequencing, and making plans that are carefully aligned to local and/or sector context. We do not believe in checklists, stock presentations, or one-size-fits-all.
- We support technical work — AND we catalyze deeper adaptive work for lasting change.
We know that sometimes change requires things like rewriting job descriptions, changing core business processes, and rewriting policies. We are detail-oriented and sweat the small stuff.
AND, we believe deep work related to equity requires shifting values, mindsets, and beliefs. This only happens through experiential learning and deep culture work over time.
- We get things done with focused plans — AND we become part of your team and know when to adapt and go off-script.
Our engagements always include clear phases with deliverables for each, based on goals co-constructed with our clients. At the same time, our clients trust us as elbow partners and coaches and use us as key advisors when ABAR values come into tension with current events and company decisions. During COVID, for example, we pivoted to advise our clients on how to adapt to an ever-changing environment.
- We are comfortable with discomfort — AND we know that shame and finger-pointing shuts down learning and progress.
We live by the Baldwin quote, “Not everything that is faced can be changed. But nothing can be changed unless it is faced.” We recognize this requires discomfort and confronting sometimes brutal facts. We facilitate spaces where this leads to collective action instead of more gridlock.
- We provide capacity and leadership — AND we are explicit about teaching leadership teams “how to fish” so progress continues well after our engagement.
We always enter engagements at the level of the CEO, superintendent, commissioner, and/or founder, as well as their team. Meanwhile, we concurrently do work with members throughout organizations, to sew change and build capacity top-down and bottom-up.
Targeted Systems Approach
The DRP team engages with school districts/CMOs over the course of 12-18 months. Our work has two components:
- The District Implementation Team: In every engagement, we work with a high-level and cross-functional implementation team (which must include the superintendent and/or the CMO CEO) that we launch in partnership with the district and/or charter management organization.
- School-Based Change: We also work with school leaders and their teams. The scope of the work with individual schools varies depending on the budget and goals of the client.
Superintendents, leaders of charter school networks, state commissioners, and school board members are seeking to solve a particular problem related to equity. This work happens in four phases through our Core Model as follows:
- We believe context matters. In Phase One of our work, we spend time interviewing key stakeholders to build our understanding of the local context — challenges and opportunities, current thinking on the work, as well as the goals and fears, and best ways to communicate with the community. During this phase, we help build teams at the central and school levels and introduce our frameworks (EQUITY and P) and assessment tools. At the end of the first phase, the major players in the central office are clear about the EQUITY Framework, the approach of DRP and how the entire engagement will work.
- We provide capacity and coaching, teaching leadership how to fish. During Phase Two, we provide training (virtual or in-person), norming the central and school level teams on the EQUITY Framework and laying the groundwork for developing and implementing a strategic plan.
- In Phase Three, our coaches work with central and school level teams — through virtual or in-person trainings and school visits — to develop and review the emerging action plans. Our team knows how to get things done and knows when to go off script. By the end of this phase, our coaches will have identified any obstacles and provided the support to create a comprehensive plan.
- During our final phase, Phase Four, we reflect on progress to date, solidify the community of practice, and ensure that central and school teams are shifting from planning to implementation.
At the end of the engagement, with a deeper understanding of the EQUITY Framework, clients will have a finalized, two-year implementation plan for central teams and school teams. Teams are clear about how to charter and implement strategies developed with their two-year action plan.
The Collective Action Model
The collective action approach takes one of two forms:
- DRP convenes district leadership teams from several districts or regions — traditional and charter together — to actively shift away from harsh, biased, and exclusionary discipline and other school policies and practices that disproportionately and negatively impact Black, brown, LGBTQQ students and students with disabilities.
- DRP convenes diverse leaders from adjacent systems — police, advocates, higher education, child welfare, juvenile justice, and/or school systems — to generate a comprehensive plan to address inequities in how students and families are punished.
The initiating client is typically a superintendent, commissioner, mayor or county executive, advocacy organization, and/or funder with a regional focus. The collective action approach is tailored to each engagement based on the initiator, but some basic elements are typically included.
- Convene and on-board the right people to the collective: We work with the initiator to recruit and on-board members who are committed to (a) real self-reflection, change, and learning, and who will actively participate to support collective growth; (b) represent diverse stakeholders who need to be at the table in order for system change to occur; and (c) empowered and high-level decision-makers who can translate insight into action.
- Case for action: Explore the specific, tangible, and research-based consequences of harsh, biased, and exclusionary disciplinary practices in fueling the school-to-prison pipeline; create a sense of urgency for collective and individual action.
- Vision for success: Understand, at a high level, the six building blocks — and accompanying people, policy, practices, and power-dynamics shifts that need to occur — to make progress on replacing antiquated approaches with more equitable ones.
- Reflection: Learn about local and national promising practices and research; reflect on local practices that are promising; surface common struggles.
- Planning: Begin to envision how to make the deep adaptive (mindset and beliefs) and technical (practices and policies) changes necessary to replace inequitable approaches to student behavior with more proactive, ABAR (anti-biased and anti-racist), and developmentally appropriate ones.
Our approach is anchored by two frameworks:
EQUITY Framework and Self-Assessment Tools
We have integrated the research on anti-biased, anti-racist organizations, behavior modification, achievement motivation, risk and resilience, school culture and climate, and social and emotional learning — along with promising practices from restorative justice, PBIS, MTSS, RTI, and culturally responsive teaching — into one set of actionable, non-jargony tools. The EQUITY Framework has 6 competencies, and each competency has 3 to 5 indicators of success. We’ve broken this down into a set of “look fors” in the form of a school-based self-assessment and a system-based self-assessment. In essence, our self-assessment helps teams understand where they are against the fourth leg of the stool and what it will take to make progress.
The P-Framework is a comprehensive approach to conducting an organizational assessment. Once teams are normed on the EQUITY Frameworks, our team guides leaders and their teams through an inventory of their principles, practices, people and performance management, policies, partners, and power dynamics — and how they need to change in the short, medium, and long term.
Corporations and philanthropists often wonder where they should invest time and resources to better realize their vision and mission. ThirdWay helps leadership teams tackle everything from lack of diversity in executive teams to incrementalism in organizational culture. We are particularly interested in projects and organizations dedicated to realizing equity, specifically those focused on increasing the organization’s capacity to be anti-biased and anti-racist.
- The EQUITY Framework — Our research and evidence-based framework is a tool that organizations can use to examine their culture and climate. We’ve taken what we know from research about anti-biased and anti-racist work, achievement motivation, and the optimal conditions for productivity and put it into one comprehensive and practical tool. We find the EQUITY Framework helpful in focusing our work with clients.
- The Organizational Audit and Action Planning Process
- First we work to get the right people at the table to understand the tenants of the framework — and get to know the context of the organization by conducting interviews, looking at data, and steeping ourselves in the context
- Next we help stakeholders engage in an audit using the EQUITY Framework
- A summary is prepared and socialized among stakeholders identified by the client that focuses on the organizations strengths and areas in need of improvement
- Then we use our Six-P Framework to create an initial plan for change — and eventually build that into a full blow implementation plan
- Often, we stay on to build capacity of the team to work the implementation plan, provide executive coaching, and help teams overcome real obstacles to progress
- The Six-P Framework — Every organization has a finite number of levers for change. We have identified the levers in our Six-P Framework.
- Performance — how you measure progress and what key metrics tell you about how you are doing.
- People — who you recruit, hire, retain, and promote and how aligned that is to your vision and values.
- Practices — your norms and rituals, what your celebrate, how you develop folks from within, people’s day-to-day experience in your organization.
- Policy — what guardrails you set, what if enabled by policy, what is forbidden, and what implicit messages your policies send
- Partners — who you work with outside of your immediate organization and how aligned they are to your mission and values.
- Power-dynamics — who is at power tables, who will experience change as loss, how current power dynamics might be holding back collective progress.
Government agencies and non-profits focused on child welfare, mental health, substance abuse juvenile justice, homelessness, and education often exist in silos and don’t have structured ways of learning from each other or working together. We help organizations better meet their goals by helping them improve their approach to planning, people, practices and/or policies.
We are particularly focused on systems integration and helping clients execute bold, high-impact ideas to promote equity and undertake previously unthinkable tasks.
The ThirdWay Solutions Team has a wealth of experience in K-12 education. Our Managing Partner served as a Superintendent of Schools for over a decade and lead two nationally recognized education reform organizations.
Our team includes former principals and district personnel as well as coaches who have provided professional development and technical assistance for schools over multiple decades. We help school systems improve their approach to performance, planning, practices, policies, partner management, and power dynamics. We are particularly focused on equity — and improving outcomes for students who are too often pushed to the side.
Below is a list of school systems with whom we have worked (in alphabetical order):
- DC Public Education Fund and Raise DC
- East Baton Rouge School System
- KIPP SoCal
- LaFourche Schools System
- Los Angeles Unified School District
- Louisiana State Department of Education
- Phoenix Union High School District
- Summit Public Schools
- Tangipahoa Parish School System
What our clients say
“Cami and the ThirdWay team have done amazing work all over the country, including in the most unlikely corners of Louisiana. What’s different about their approach is that they are committed to the long-term work of changing hearts, minds, and practices about issues of identity, school culture, and equity. Her team’s wisdom, if not their services, would be of great use and influence for many chiefs, especially now.” — John White, Former Louisiana State Superintendent
“ThirdWay Solutions, led by Cami Anderson, is fiercely focused on making sure all students thrive, including and especially those who are often left behind. I am continually impressed by their deep knowledge of everything from very technical and specific solutions for students with disabilities to big, disruptive ideas about fundamentally changing the way we think about special education and other equity issues.” — Kristin Wright, former California State Director of Special Education and Executive Director of Equity, Diversity, Intervention at the Sacramento County Office of Education
“Cami has been focused on delivering excellence to students who struggle and broader issues of equity for as long as I have known her. Systems will benefit from her passion, know-how, and real-life experience in creating change at scale. She’s good at both the details and systems needed to move the work as well as the deeper coaching of leaders that leads to lasting change.” — Kaya Henderson, CEO of Reconstruction, and former Chancellor of DC Public Schools