Our Approach

What makes us different

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.

What we care about

Black students, students with disabilities, and students who identify as LGBTQQ are criminalized in schools.  

  • Black and Latino students and students with disabilities are 3 to 4 times more likely to be suspended than their white peers1.
  • More than 50% of school-based arrests and 32% of suspensions are of African American students, even though they are only 16% of all students2.
  • Young people who identify as LGBTQQ are suspended or excluded from activities at higher rates than their peers3.

Young people who face unthinkable life challenges — usually not of their own doing — are connected to multiple government systems that only serve to compound their problems.

  • Almost 20% of young people under 18 who are incarcerated were part of the foster care system.
  • Children with an incarcerated parent were more than three times more likely to have behavioral problems or depression than similar children without an imprisoned parent, and at least twice as likely to suffer from learning disabilities, ADD/ADHD, and anxiety.
  • Families who are connected to the child welfare system are all connected to the criminal justice system.

Despite advances in gender equity, women still face unequal treatment and representation in roles, responsibilities and compensation in the workforce. 

Key Frameworks

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

Sample Clients

Facilitated community of practice for principals of highest performing schools across the state.
Worked across systems to address de-criminalizing the way communities in Phoenix think about student behavior
Developed strategy to embrace DEI values while growing their footprint in diverse – geographic and ideologic – markets
Advise on data-driven strategies for communities and cities to set and track key equity metrics across agencies
Convened a learning work session with key district and charter leaders and members of the Broad community to address over-policing of Black students
Provided coaching and facilitation for education superintendents and state commissioners across the country; envisioned ‘leading while female’ initiative
Helped revise giving strategy with an equity lens
Provided evaluation of New Dawn Charter High School’s academic performance to determine the effectiveness and quality of its program
Provided district-wide strategy to improve the academic outcomes of 16 – 22-year-olds who are off-track, including recommended shifts in policy and practice related to enrollment, accountability, discipline, instruction, socio-emotional support, current and future portfolio offerings, and staff capacity.
Helped create Let’s Adopt Reform! Initiative — a national policy and advocacy agenda to radically improve adoption and improve outcomes for kids in school
Following a pilot program with the Louisiana Department of Education, EBR engaged DRP to work with the Executive Director of Alternative High Schools to reimagine their alternative schools
Worked with leadership to develop training modules using research, case studies, and data to make the case for school-based and system-wide reform.
Supported six Superintendents and their c-suite to devise multi-year plans to replace harsh, biased discipline systems with ones that keep kids safe, and avoid shame and exclusion
TWS envisioned and facilitated a 10-month, virtual community of practice with seven school systems (six traditional and YES Prep)
Developed training module for Equity Bootcamp in Harris County, Texas
Supported team to define core values and align practices to values; provide executive coaching to key leaders on the senior team
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
Provided training to leadership of district and select schools in an equity audit of their systems aimed to articulate necessary changes – in policies, practices and mindsets – across the district
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
Provided coaching and strategic advising on leadership framework with an equity lens
Supported work on the charter application, including support with K-12 curriculum and development of accountability structure
Envisioned and facilitated a four part series for all principals and their leadership teams on the intersection of rigor and relationships
Created a framework for better serving over-aged, under-credited students and disconnected youth in Washington, D.C.
Supported CEO and VP of Education Partnerships to rethink how they engage systems leaders to use their content
Led a community of practice for school leaders, funders and advocates in Memphis. TWS created workshops to create a common understanding and align efforts to implement and support discipline reform, restorative practices, and preventative measures schools and the greater community
Supported senior team of Summit Public Schools to review equity work across central office and schools.
Provided leadership and content expertise, facilitated a series of working group webinars and participated in launch of state-wide pilot on expanding the definition of charter success
Working with the district leadership, DRP helped develop and implement a multi-year plan to be a district, organization and community that exemplifies critical consciousness, equity, and inclusion.
Coach senior team to support anti-poverty initiative in the central valley of California

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