Author Archives: Heather Buchheim

Dispatch from #EP2016

How To Win Federal Education Grants: Tips from Bellwether’s Lina Bankert and Steph Wilson Itelman

Last week, the U.S. Department of Education announced it will award a $27 million Teacher Incentive Fund (TIF) grant to our client, Harmony Public Schools, over the next five years. Bellwether is honored to have partnered with Harmony on developing their human capital strategy and vision for the grant, and we’re thrilled to see such a substantial investment in their vital work for kids.

We’re also proud to have advised the Tennessee and Louisiana Departments of Education on their successful applications for Charter School Program and TIF grants, respectively.

Lina Bankert and Steph Wilson Itelman led this work for Bellwether, and we spoke to them about developing federal education grant proposals; what differentiates a successful application; and how you can win highly competitive, much-needed funding for your organization. Continue reading

A Day in the Life: Q&A with Kat Black, Bellwether Talent Services Intern

Kat Black

Kat Black, Bellwether Intern

Bellwether was thrilled to have Kat Black join our Chicago office as a summer intern on the Talent Services team from June to August 2016. She came to us in between graduating from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management and beginning a full-time role in human capital consulting at Deloitte Consulting in New York City.

We spoke to her about her career goals, highlights from her time with us, and what makes Bellwether unique.

This interview has been lightly edited for length and clarity.

How did you get inspired to work with underserved kids?

My love for helping students started in undergrad at Amherst College, where I worked as an intern in the admissions office helping with diversity initiatives. Following graduation, I accepted a fellowship role as an admissions officer at Amherst. One visit to a particular school, the High School of Leadership and Public Service in New York City, had a great impact on me. I’ve never forgotten the kids there. It was a predominantly black and Hispanic school, and for those students to see someone who looked like them coming from a school like Amherst meant a lot. It also reinforced my awareness of the lack of resources so many students face. Since then I’ve done a substantial amount of college preparatory tutoring for students at different under-resourced high schools in NYC and Chicago, but want to do more in the future.

My dream is to open up my own organization that works directly with kids doing college prep work. Starting an organization requires resources and knowledge in terms of how to actually run things. I have the passion from my experience at Amherst, and now I’m working to put the skills behind it.

How did you hear about Bellwether?

I came to Bellwether through Education Pioneers. I was studying abroad in South America and said look, I’ll have four months off between graduation and my next full-time role, how can I keep growing? I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, but from the moment I spoke to the Talent Services team, I have never looked back.

I don’t think I’ll ever work in another organization where one of the cofounders invites me out to brunch before my start. Coming into an organization and already feeling like I was part of it was a big deal. My first day didn’t feel like a first day because I’d already been welcomed so much in advance.

I went from wavering about how I wanted to spend my summer to meeting the people at Bellwether and saying this is literally a dream job. Continue reading

Five Stories of Teachers We’ll Never Forget

In honor of Teacher Appreciation Week, we rounded up some favorite stories from Team Bellwether about our most influential teachers the ones who held us to high standards, challenged us, and led by example. These educators helped inspire us to build careers ensuring today’s K-12 students have the mentors, role models, and opportunities they deserve.

From the Shakespeare-quoting grammar-philes to the algebra teachers who only assigned the toughest math problems, we say thank you.

Here’s to working with education organizations to create a culture where teachers are supported and appreciated each and every day. Continue reading

Can Catholic Schools Come Back From the Brink?

The forecast has been bleak for urban Catholic education over the last 50 years. Shifting demographics, changing societal conditions, and unsympathetic K-12 public policies have contributed to school closures, mostly in low-income inner-city neighborhoods. Enrollment has plunged to fewer than 2 million students from 5.6 million over the past five decades.

Can Catholic schools adapt and come back from the brink? Writing for Education Next, Bellwether’s Andy Smarick and Kelly Robson explore three innovations that are breathing new life into the sector and suggesting that a renaissance of Catholic K-12 education in America might be possible.

Check out their new article, “Innovation in Catholic Education: New approaches to instruction and governance may revitalize the sector.”

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