Five Phases of Work

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​.

Levels of Support

We customize our approach to meet the needs of our clients, whether it’s a light touch or a deep dive.



Special Projects


A CEO, board member, or senior advisor of a for-profit, nonprofit, government or philanthropic organization engages TWS to help make progress on projects and coaching that requires the expertise of individuals who have run ABAR organizations and navigated tough ABAR waters.

“The TWS team manage to tell the hard truth in a way we can hear them…the deep stuff and the technical stuff. They are like organizational therapists — the best kind.”

CEO of for-profit company


ThirdWay was founded with clear ABAR vision and values — and is staffed with a team who has been doing ABAR work throughout their careers across sectors. Companies are under tremendous pressure, rightfully so, to ensure their organization is embracing ABAR values internally and throughout their organization, giving way to tremendous opportunity and emotional challenges.


TWS supports organizations to define their ABAR vision and operating principles, and pull them through all core elements of their work. Sample clients include:

  • Over the course of 2 years, ThirdWay Solutions has worked with the executive team and other stakeholders of several organizations to (a) identify ABAR core values as operating principles, and (b) coach executive teams to strategize and manage against their core values.
  • TWS is working with a national developer and provider of curriculum to cultivate content that provides educators with high quality (HQ), developmentally appropriate (DA), culturally competent (CC), equity-minded (EM) and educator-supportive (ES) products.

Collective Action


A funder, mayor, systems leader, advocacy group or some other convener engages the TWS team to address a need within one geographic area (district, city or state) to work across agencies or districts to build momentum towards bold solutions.


Toppling systems that have produced inequitable outcomes for decades is an inherently cross-functional, cross-agency, grassroots task. When it comes to how we better serve young people and families who are marginalized, addressing issues of public safety, discipline, and/or building ABAR practices, we must break through silos and past patterns.


The TWS team convenes multiple systems leaders and creates a community of practice with the relationships, space, and content to make tangible progress on community-based goals. Sample clients include:

  • The Houston Health Department and My Brother’s Keeper invited 7 districts in Houston to address the social health determinants associated with school discipline through TWS’ “Rethink Discipline Community of Practice.”
  • Stand for Children Memphis brought together district and charter school leadership, student services staff, local funders, advocates and youth sector stakeholders to identify key levers in reforming supports for young people.
  • In Phoenix, TWS worked with charter leaders and district leaders, advocates, students, funders, and law enforcement to engage deeply on the EQUITY framework and create tailored action plans.
  • Raise DC, in the District of Columbia, sought TWS support in designing a framework for how to better serve overaged, undercredited, disconnected youth. The TWS team worked with the district, funders, and the nonprofit sector to create a single, comprehensive plan.

Targeted Systems Support


The superintendent of a school district, charter school CEO, commissioner, or board member engages TWS to solve a particular problem related to equity.

“We started working with TWS because we thought we had a discipline problem, now we know we have a culture problem — and we could not do this work without the TWS team.”



Schools and school systems often perpetuate the same inequities we see in society, specifically:

  • Schools — and the systems in which they operate — are consistently failing 20% of their most vulnerable students. These “Students who Systems Fail the Most” (SSFMs) have special needs, are court-involved, live well below the poverty level and/or face unthinkable barriers to success. Statistically, they are likely to be students of color. Too often they are labeled “special populations” and further marginalized out of classrooms and into separate and unequal programs.
  • Black and brown students as well as students with disabilities are between 3 and 4 times more likely to be suspended than their white peers, often for the same infractions. These students report they feel less seen and heard, and less connected to adults. Over 50% of school-based arrests are of Black students though they make up only 17% of the student population nationwide. Punitive discipline is correlated to poor student outcomes and a life-long connection to a biased justice system.


The TWS team helps the leader and their team deeply and accurately diagnose the root cause of the presenting challenge and step out a concrete plan to solve it. Sample clients include:

  • The Los Angeles Unified School District recognized students with disabilities were being segregated from their peers and suffering from poor academic outcomes. Further, the district had been embroiled in a 30-year consent decree related to special education. The TWS team envisioned an entirely new approach to special education and a multi-year plan to get there.
  • The Louisiana Department of Education tapped TWS’ Discipline Revolution Project to pilot a radically different approach to the Alternative Education Pilot Program. The TWS team worked with the state to shift policies and incentives, and with two parishes to put in place on-the-ground pilots.
  • The Discipline Revolution Project: Tangipahoa Parish has partnered with the TWS team over multiple years to completely rethink their approach to equity from top to bottom. The work began as a frank assessment of biased discipline practices and led to a co-constructed blueprint for a pathway to becoming a district that exemplified critical consciousness, equity, and inclusion.