The ThirdWay Approach – Two Ways We Can Help

ThirdWay Solutions in one of two ways:

  1. Client-Driven Projects — We help you solve your organization’s most difficult challenges particularly as they relate to equity in your services and within your organization; these engagements tend to be time-limited and are geared towards answering a specific question or solving a discrete problem.
  2. ThirdWay Initiatives — Your organization might benefit from one of our four core initiatives:
  • Corporate and Organizational ABAR (Anti-Biased, Anti-Racist) Audit: Using our EQUITY and 6-P Framework, we help you and your team engage in an evidence-based self-assessment, work side-by-side with key players to envision a plan to address gaps, and support implementation of the plan.
  • Discipline Revolution Project:Working with Superintendents, charter leaders, independent schools, funders, and advocates to replace biased, “zero tolerance” discipline practices with better student supports and restorative practices
  • The Equity Fellowship:Designing, building momentum for, and facilitating18-month, fellowships for best-in-class teachers, administrators, and support personnel who get ‘beats the odds’ results for students who struggle so they can go from good to great and drive change “bottom up”
  • Alternatives to Detention:Designing new educational, therapeutic, and holistic models for young adults who are court-involved and in long-term federal, state, or county care

Sample Client-Driven Projects:

  • Bloomberg Associates:Provide technical assistance to cities — and mayors in particular — who want to make educational equity, juvenile justice reform, child welfare, and/or the intersection of all of these systems, a cornerstone of their agenda
  • Chiefs for Change:Facilitated gatherings, knowledge sharing, and peer visits for 15 reform-minded Superintendents and state Commissioners
  • The CityBridge Foundation:Developed an investment strategy to help most at-risk young people, in school and court-involved
  • The Donaldson Adoption Institute:Helped establish Let’s Adopt Reform! — a public awareness campaign, and national policy agenda to radically improve outcomes for children in foster care and who are adopted
  • Stand for Children: Provided strategic support for national initiatives; helped build local coalitions to support a comprehensive approach to equity
  • State University of New York Charter School Institute:Served as an expert advisor and designer of an initiative to improve equity in how charters are held accountable, and in broadening the definition of success beyond test scores

 

Sample Third-Way Initiative Client:

  • The New Teacher Project: Advising on new school design, coaching school districts on breaking school-prison pipeline, school turn-arounds, cross-agency partnerships, and labor agreements
  • Louisiana State Department of Education:Supporting state and districts to design and implement comprehensive plans to drive more equitable outcomes for students who struggle the most; conducting training, leading community learning sessions, coaching leaders, and building grassroots momentum
  • Raise DC:Worked with senior leadership to craft comprehensive plan to serve most at-risk middle and high school students, including launching new discipline approaches and better programming for young people in alternative settings

Our Approach:

Though always tailored to the needs of the client, ThirdWay Solutions relies on two tools we have developed over the past five years.

  • 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 about anti-biased and anti-racist work, social and emotional learning and support, behavior science and 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 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 you celebrate, how you develop folks from within, people’s day-to-day experience in your organization.
    • Policy — what guardrails you set, what is 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.
  • The Four Phases of Our Work — Typically our work has four phases:
    • Stage One — Diagnostic and Self-Assessment
      • During this phase we focus on doing a thorough analysis of what currently exists while also starting to unearth what needs to be true for key stakeholders to be invested in the work
      • We use our “6-Ps” Framework — Performance, People, Policy, Practice, Partners, and Power — and our EQUITY Framework
      • We conduct interviews, look at data, read key documents
      • Where possible, we visit sites and connect with those closest to the work by walking a mile in their shoes
    • Stage Two – The Playback and Emerging Action Plan
      • Using the 6-Ps Framework, we summarize what we have learned — on each of the six categories, what we hope to preserve and strengthen, what needs to change, and where change is imperative
      • At this point, we can also do a “presentation” format of the Playback to gain feedback from stakeholders — what we got right and what we missed
      • Out of the Playback, a series of priorities emerge; we begin to flesh out what needs to happen immediately and what needs to happen over time
      • The Emerging Action Plan lays this out to ensure (a) the team has picked the right levers for change, and (b) work can start while a full implementation plan is built
    • Stage Three — Implementation Planning and Collective Action
      • Once the team and key stakeholders believe the PlayBack and Emerging Action Plan reflect the pathway forward, we begin to build out a full Implementation Plan
      • The full plan includes outputs and quarterly milestones — while we have templates and samples, we also prioritize using whatever tools are most familiar to those charged with leading the plan
    • Stage Four — Capacity-Building and Coaching
      • Depending on the scope and needs of clients, we also provide group sessions and facilitation on topics defined as areas of common need identified in the self-assessment process (through the engagement)
      • We also provide executive coaching to senior team members with goals revealed in the self-assessment process

How we are different

  • We have rare expertise. Our team has direct experience as leaders of change in government, non-profit, and corporate organizations. We have practical, research-based, field-tested tools & resources and a five-year track-record with high-profile clients.
  • We are about deep systems change. What leaders do matters: either they enable and build capacity for success or incent bad practices and exacerbate inequities. We work to get to the root cause of issues as opposed to looking for temporary band-aids.
  • We’re with James Baldwin: that which is not faced cannot be changed. We ask for open access to data, internal documents, and other artifacts that can help get at what’s working and not; we ask for brutal honesty and in return provide absolute confidentiality.
  • We pay careful attention to technical changes and adaptive changes. We help clients choose and craft better policies, tools, practices, and models, and steer directly into issues involving mindsets, will, and beliefs (e.g., recommended staffing model is not just who needs to do what, but also the skill and will needed).

School Systems

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

Government & Non-profits

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.

Corporations & Philanthropy

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.