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