Teach On Project 2020-2023 Strategic Plan

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EXECUTIVE SUMMARY For a little over a decade, the Teach On Project (TOP) was best known for its elaborate celebrations. Once a year, we would pull out the big checks, the bright balloons, and surprise another great group of educators - the newest recipients of our grants. These celebrations were the most recognized part of our programming, yet only a portion of our organizational impact. The best kept secret of the Teach On Project is our alumni group of grantees, the Teacher Leader Collective (TLC). This collaborative of teachers and leaders works throughout the year to support each other, grow together, improve their practice, and identify the next group of awesome educators to join our family. It is our honor to provide ongoing support to this dynamic group, our way to promote expansion of their impact. Those of us inside the organization regularly see the impact the TLC has on each other, their schools and communities. One of our alumni described this effect as a ripple, moving out throughout Metro Atlanta, as empowered teachers improve outcomes for countless students while serving as a reference and support for their peers (who in turn positively impact students in their classrooms).

Families’ Awards for Excellence in Education became the Teach On Project. Our new name better communicates who we've always been: an organization committed to keeping excellent educators in public schools. With a new name, and ambitious goals, TOP completed the following strategic plan, the second step in this “shift.” The pages of this document explain both where we have been, and where we are going. Our 2020-2023 Strategic Plan aims to expand this ripple of positive impact in Metro Atlanta into a full on fantastic wave. Here we go!

Shifting how we are perceived, from big checks to rippling impact, is a multistep process that started with rebranding. In 2019 The Atlanta




Executive Summary Table of Contents Vision and Mission Statement of Need


07 08 Identify 1 1 Empower 1 4 Expand Our Organization and Programs

18 24 25

Strategic Plan: Goals and Objectives Budget Board Members


OUR VISION Every excellent educator is celebrated, inspired, and motivated to make a long-term positive impact on their students, schools, and community.

OUR MISSION Making a positive impact on student success by investing in, energizing, and retaining excellent educators.



STATEMENT OF NEED The Teach On Project addresses the need to empower educators with the hopes of increasing educator retention and student achievement. According to the Georgia Department of Education’s 2015 teacher survey report titled “Georgia’s Teacher Dropout Crisis,” teachers leave the field of education due to three main factors: lack of teacher participation in decisions; lack of benefits/compensation; and lack of quality support, resources, and professional learning. In the Metro Atlanta area, and moreover, mirrored nationally, educators are leaving the field at unprecedented rates. A 2015 report conducted by the Georgia Professional Standards Commission suggests that 47% of public school teachers in Georgia leave within the first five years of employment. National statistics suggest that roughly half a million teachers in the United States move or leave the profession each year. It is clear that something must be done to keep educators in the classroom. However, it is not enough to keep teachers, we must retain excellent educators - those that have the highest academic and personal influence on students in Metro Atlanta. A study conducted in 2012 by The New Teacher Project, entitled The Irreplaceables, states that half of the educators leaving the classroom are among the most effective (by standards of academic achievement, engaging learning experiences, and influence on students’ personal lives). Educator attrition negatively impacts student achievement immediately and over


time, according to a longitudinal study conducted by the National Center for Analysis of Longitudinal Data in Education Research. However, the inverse is also true. There is a direct positive correlation between excellent educator retention and student achievement. Research shows that students with an outstanding teacher for just one year will remain ahead of his/her peers for the next few years. Retaining excellent educators in Metro Atlanta’s classrooms is a top priority. Through our programming, we meet the need of retaining high performing educators and ensuring students’ continued access to a high-level rigorous curriculum. Our foundation and expectations for the grants we give are based on quality instruction grounded in evidence-based methodology, innovative tools and technology in the classroom to manage data, and professional development to support school districts’ human capital. If TOP does not do this work, we are missing an opportunity to address and provide solutions for the reasons teachers are leaving the field of education. We have an opportunity to provide sustainable support for the educators in Metro Atlanta that teach the cities’ students every day.


“I can share many moments over the past five years when I have questioned whether or not I was the best person to serve in this role. Sometimes I even questioned my sanity. Not because of the students, but because I never felt like my job mattered to those not living in “our” non-traditional world. We are so often overlooked and underserved, the battle has always been heavy and sometimes lonely. You have really made a difference in my life as an educator. You have rejuvenated my spirit and my heart. For that, I am greatly appreciative and humbled.” Dawn Parker, 2018 TOP Grantee



OUR ORGANIZATION AND PROGRAMS The Teach On Project, formerly known as the The Atlanta Families’ Awards for Excellence in Education, launched in 2005 as the result of one family’s belief that teacher and school leader quality is the prime determinant of a students’ opportunity to succeed. This central principle remains the cornerstone of TOP and today the organization identifies and celebrates exceptional educators, striving to ensure the success of every student in the five Metro Atlanta public school districts we currently serve, which include Atlanta Public Schools, Cobb County Schools, DeKalb County Schools, Fulton County Schools, and Gwinnett County Public Schools. The driving force behind TOP’s mission is to recognize the “best of the best” in Metro Atlanta education. By recognizing and rewarding excellent educators each year, TOP works to retain the most qualified teachers and leaders, inspiring other educators to transform their craft, and increase the public’s awareness of educator and student success across the region. TOP understands how critical educator retention is to ensure that every child receives an excellent education. We believe that through recognition, empowerment, and financial support, exceptional educators will remain in the classroom and multiply the impact of their efforts, thus elevating the quality of public education in Metro Atlanta.


Our three programs are designed to:


Identify and celebrate top performing educators.


Empower excellent educators by providing resources and support.


Expand the impact winners have on their students, schools, and communities.



IDENTIFY Identify and celebrate top performing educators The first step in our process to ensure that all children receive an exemplary education is to identify the educators and the strengths they bring with them into the classroom.


• Identify the highest performing Pre-K-12th grade teachers and leaders in Metro Atlanta Public Schools.

• Recognize their importance in our schools and communities.

• Celebrate their accomplishments on a scale

worthy of their importance in our communities.


PROGRAM DESCRIPTION: Our merit-based awards program has a rigorous application process designed to identify educators who demonstrate increases in student achievement, enhancement of student selfesteem, and collaboration with community stakeholders. During the inaugural year of the organization, ten educators from Atlanta Public Schools were recognized during a public awards ceremony. This public celebration of education excellence became a foundational element of the organization, as part of our outward admiration and support of public schools’ brightest stars. In 2011, TOP expanded the celebration of educators to include ‘Surprise Days’. During Surprise Days, elaborate plans are made to surprise TOP recipients with the news that they are a TOP grantee. Community members, school partners, district leadership, friends and family, with balloons and gifts in hand, all join together to celebrate each recipient of the TOP Award for Excellence in Education. In 2014, TOP expanded its reach by partnering with Fulton County Schools. And in 2015, continued the expansion by incorporating Cobb, Gwinnett and DeKalb County Schools as partner districts. In 2015 TOP partnered with Montlick and Associates to highlight TOP grantees on WSBTV Channel 2. Over the years, the partnership has grown to include additional TV air time, ad placement on wsbtv.com, outdoor billboards and in-kind donations used during Surprise Days.



IDENTIFY Goals within our strategic plan: We aim to deepen our relationships with our partner districts while simultaneously increasing the number of grant applicants annually.


• Since 2006, we have identified 136 Metro Atlanta educators from Atlanta Public Schools, Cobb, DeKalb, Fulton and Gwinnett County School Districts.

• Since the first year, TOP has held 14 Awards Ceremonies, celebrating Metro Atlanta’s top performing educators with the community that honors and supports them.

• Since 2011, TOP has held Surprise Days for 79 educators in all five partner districts. PROGRAM OUTCOMES: 100% of our 2018 and 2019 cohort of grantees agree, as a result of receiving this grant:

I feel empowered to find creative ways to support student achievement. I feel respected by my peers. I feel respected by my school leadership. I have a renewed excitement about teaching. I have a renewed commitment to my school community.



“I know, to me, I just felt like a new person. It was probably one of the best days of my life. When they showed up to my school, and the big assembly, just so much love and joy. It’s amazing. I just haven't turned back!” Toni Bailey, 2016 TOP Grantee




EMPOWER Empower excellent educators by providing resources and support TOP Teacher recipients are empowered with the resources and support needed to implement a class, school or community project of their design.


TOP grants high performing teachers and leaders in Metro Atlanta public school districts with financial resources to make a difference in their lives and the lives of their students. The $7,500 TOP grant covers three areas: project stipend, professional development and personal stipend. Each year, educators receive a $3,500 project stipend to implement a class or school project. Projects must be strategically designed to have a positive impact on student achievement and self-esteem, as well as demonstrate collaboration with school and/or community partners. Additionally, projects must include a plan of sustainability for long term implementation. We actively seek community partners to amplify projects and support their implementation. By aligning with experienced providers and suppliers, we create an environment where our grantees are the most successful and impactful.

organizations that can further support project implementation.

As part of our support of educators, we provide our grantees with a $1,500 professional development stipend to attend a professional development session of their choice. This opportunity must be taken through an accredited institution, and aligned to the educators’ growth areas as identified on their most recent summative evaluation from their supervisor. We believe that providing our grantees with a professional development stipend and encouraging them to self-select their own opportunity invests the educator in the development process and also empowers them in their professional learning experience.

Support the ongoing professional development of high performing educators through high impact learning opportunities.

Lastly, our TOP grantees receive a $2,500 personal stipend as a thank you for their exemplary work, commitment to our schools, and as an acknowledgement that their salaries do not cover all that they do for our students.

Provide innovative educators the financial resources needed to implement a class or school project of their design.

• Partner TOP grantees with community







Goals within our strategic plan:

• TOP project funds have served as “seed money” for multi-year projects. The longest

We aim to increase the number of grants

• Grantee’s projects have directly impacted the lives of 30,000+ students and counting. running project to date holds a 14-year lifespan with an overall average project length of 4 years.

provided each year as well as expand our

• TOP has awarded over $1Million in financial support to Metro Atlanta educators.

partnerships to include additional districts.

• 72% of TOP funded projects are implemented in Title I schools, supporting students with the greatest need.

PROGRAM OUTCOMES: 100% of our 2018 and 2019 cohort of grantees agree that:


Staff at my school were supportive of my project.

92% of our previous awardees still impact the field of education, or retired from a full career as an educator.

I collaborated with staff at my school to implement my project. My school community (e.g. parents, community members, volunteers) was supportive.

74% of our previous awardees still work in one of our five partner districts, or retired from a full career in a partner district.

I received support in implementing my program from members of my school community. TOP 2020-2023 STRATEGIC PLAN


“For the last four years, I’ve been building a program aimed at giving students an incredible experience in math and science that both prepares them for excellence in these fields and excites them to love and appreciate all that they have to offer. I have worked to bring STEM to life while limited to free, reused, and creatively repurposed materials. As much as they love the challenge of doing more with less, these kids are ready for more and they need the tools to go farther. Thanks to you, they’re finally going to get them. This grant will open doors that I’ve only dreamed of in past years.” Doug Doblar, 2019 TOP Grantee




EXPAND Expand the impact winners have on their students, schools, and communities OBJECTIVES:

• Provide multiple opportunities for top

performing educators from districts across Metro Atlanta to collaborate with and learn from each other.

• Provide platforms for TLC members to share their voice while expanding their impact on their chosen profession.

• Align TLC members with community

organizations and partners that value their input and expertise.

PROGRAM DESCRIPTION: Being awarded the TOP Award for Excellence in Education is just the beginning. Our grantees earn a membership to our Teacher Leader Collective (TLC). The TLC is composed of past TOP award recipients who seek to drive systemic change in education across Metro Atlanta in an effort to inspire fellow educators to meet the needs of every student. The TLC is run by a leadership team, officers who are voted into office by their fellow alumni. The Leadership Team works to organize and implement all TLC activities, manage the annual program budget, provide input to the TOP Board of Directors and expand or create programming that supports the TLC Core Values. Teacher Leader Collective core values area:

• Every child can learn when educators engage them with high-quality instruction that is differentiated to meet their needs.

• Excellent teaching and leadership can be modeled and developed through meaningful collaboration.

• Excellent educators have a responsibility to cultivate a community of

learners among their peers to positively impact student achievement.





Annual Summit Each year, the TLC Leadership Team hosts an annual summit inviting all past TOP Teacher Award recipients. This professional learning event is an opportunity to network with fellow educators, discuss issues of importance, and share best practices on the successful delivery of a 21st century education. Mini Grants Each year, the TLC leadership team offers mini grants to past grantees to extend the life of a past award-winning project, to implement a new project, or to offer professional development. Ongoing Community Impact TLC members continue to expand their impact in their school community, and beyond. In addition to serving on local school governance teams and parent/teacher associations, TLC members are active members in community, state and national organizations. In addition, TLC members actively share blueprints for educational success by publishing and archiving their completed projects plans and leading free webinars (both located within the Knowledge Center of our website).


ECET2 Atlanta TOP hosted the Elevating and Celebrating Effective Teaching and Teachers (ECET2) Atlanta conference in 2014, 2015, and in December of 2018.ECET2 Atlanta is designed, organized and led by educators. The objective of the conference, and of our organization, is to provide a platform for teachers to speak up and speak out - providing them a voice and a platform to create change. This experience is designed to inform and inspire colleagues, inspire leadership potential, and allow attendees to hone their craft. Because of this conference, educators stay abreast of current trends in curriculum and assessment, which in turn, helps prepare future leaders, again fulfilling TOP’s mission. ECET2 Atlanta is poised to become the premier opportunity for excellent educators to learn from each other and share best practices across districts while developing a powerful professional network. This mirrors our intent to expand the impact of the Teacher Leader Collective - a group that continues to grow and collaborate together.



EXPAND Goals within our strategic plan: We aim to increase the number of in person events available for TLC members to collaborate across districts. Inspired by our success in 2018, TOP is committed to hosting the ECET2 Atlanta Conference annually, another goal within our strategic plan.


• 61 teachers and leaders have earned membership to the Teacher Leader Collective

since its inception in 2013. Alumni from years prior are encouraged to participate and maintain active membership in the TLC.

• TLC has hosted six Annual Summits, beginning in 2015. • Since 2015, TLC members have earned over $5,000 in mini-grants to either extend the life of their projects, or to implement new ways to support students in their schools.

• TOP co-sponsored ECET2 Atlanta in 2014 and 2015. In 2018, TOP developed and

implemented ECET2 Atlanta independently, reaching 160 educators from across Metro Atlanta.

PROGRAM OUTCOMES: Breakout Session Survey Results on a scale of 1-4*

3.8 3.9 TOP 2020-2023 STRATEGIC PLAN

Satisfaction with session content Satisfaction with quality of speakers

3.8 3.8

Session relevance to professional growth Ease to implement information learned

*Average results, with 1 being low and 4 being high


“I just wanted to drop you an email to let you know Saturday's ECET2 conference was an awesome experience! The registration process, the organization of the conference itself, the food, the variety of learning opportunities and every other aspect of the conference were planned and executed with one thing in mind providing educators with an outstanding professional learning opportunity and celebrating our profession. I have attended a variety of conferences during my 23 year career and I would place ECET2 with the best of the best.” 2018 ECET2 Atlanta Conference Attendee



IMPACT THEME 1: Deepen our relationships while expanding our reach

GOALS AND OBJECTIVES GOAL: To have established, well-organized programs executed in a defined geographic footprint that support the organizational mission

SUCCESS DEFINED BY: • Percentage of growth of applicants from each district • Number of partner districts





1. Add partner districts to the current five partners

A) Invite Marietta City and Decatur City schools to be partners starting in fall of 2020

• 10% growth of applicants

B) Invite Clayton County to partner in fall 2021

• Partner with Marietta City and

C) Invite Henry County to partner in fall 2022

from each district

Decatur City school districts

YEAR TWO 2. Expand educator engagement in programming year over year

3. Deepen district relationships and buy in for program growth

A) Develop a communications and media plan for educator awareness and engagement

• 10% growth of applicants

B) Implement the communication and media plan to drive Round 1 completion

• Partner with Clayton County

A) Develop a value proposition and communications plan B) Implement communication plan to encourage Round 1 completion

from each district School District


• 10% growth of applicants from each district

• Partner with Henry County School District


IMPACT THEME 2: Catalyze educators’ great ideas through supplemental resources

GOALS AND OBJECTIVES GOAL: To reduce the burden on educators to implement projects for new grantees and alumni.




1. Use TLC Feedback to improve the application process

• Provide 8 educator grants • Increase number of mini A) Convene feedback meetings B) Implement suggested changes

grants by 50%


• Provide 10 educator grants • Implement communications


strategy that shares the impact of mini grants

• Number of initial grants • Number of mini grants • Initial year pre and post survey results


2. Use TLC input to expand the mini grant process

A) Collect feedback on mini grant process during annual Summit B) Implement suggested changes


• Provide 12 educator grants • Increase number of mini grants provided by 25%



IMPACT THEME 3: Expand alumni voice and influence within our schools and communities OBJECTIVES

GOALS AND OBJECTIVES GOAL: To expand the effectiveness of the current programs, specifically the impact of our alumni group, to boost teacher retention and provide career-long support for them

SUCCESS DEFINED BY: • Attendance at ECET2 Atlanta • 6 high-impact projects published • 9 hosted webinars • Number of alumni events • 3 new community partnerships for alumni • 90% engagement of alumni from previous 3 years




1. Provide opportunities for TLC members to lead

2. Provide opportunities for TLC to expand the impact of projects 3. Provide opportunities for TLC members to connect and learn from each other

A) For annual ECET2 Atlanta convenings, encourage TLC to lead breakout sessions, keynotes and serve on planning committee B) Provide opportunities for TLC to develop and host a webinar in an area of their expertise C) Connect TLC members with opportunities to provide input and guidance on a larger scale through community partners (Dept of Ed, GEEARS, speakers at local convenings)

• • • •

A) Enhance the process around awarding and supporting TLC mini-grants

• • • •

B) Implement a communication strategy that shares the impact of mini grant implementation with stakeholder

Publish 2 high impact projects Host 3 alumni webinars 1 alumni/community partner match 3 alumni collaboration/learning events


• 15% growth ECET2 attendance (from 2018) Publish 2 high impact projects Host 3 alumni webinars 1 alumni/community partner match 4 alumni collaboration/learning events

YEAR THREE A) Explore additional opportunities for TLC members to engage with each other (regional meetings, multiple convenings in a year, role/ subject specific meetings)

• 15% growth in attendance at ECET2 • • •

Atlanta Publish 2 high impact projects Host 3 alumni webinars Connect alumni with 1 community partner Maintain 4 alumni events


IMPACT THEME 4: Magnify TOP Brand through digital and partner channels

GOALS AND OBJECTIVES GOAL: To extend the reach and share the impact of our programming with our constituents, grantees and general public



YEAR ONE A) Establish committed communication board committee (own & drive)

1. Extend the reach of the TOP brand

B) Establish multi-year communications plan/ calendar C) Capitalize on existing communications partnerships

SUCCESS DEFINED BY: • Views/downloads of TOP content • Number of earned media stories • Number of constituents


METRICS: • Fully develop

communications plan


• Implement communications

plan to drive increase in applicants and ECET2 Atlanta attendance

YEAR THREE 2. Share the impact of our programming

A) Assess data currently collected on programming impact B) Identify missing data points, develop plan for data collection

• Maintain communications plan to drive educator engagement and broaden constituent base


FOUNDATIONAL THEME: Diversify revenue source

GOALS AND OBJECTIVES GOAL: To be a financially stable organization with sustainable income and reserve resources to support growth

SUCCESS DEFINED BY: • Amount raised

OBJECTIVES 1. Establish stable fundraising leadership 2. Clearly define organization funding need/ budget

• Funding sources from all supported counties

A) Establish committed fundraising board committee (own & drive) B) Establish multi-year fundraising goals and plan/ calendar C) Identify a support council (celebrating individual donors) A) Identify and prioritize program and organizational needs by fiscal year (need vs. stretch) B) Develop funding forecasts by year A) Increase constituent-based donations in a consistent manner

• Number of new donors • Number of multi-year commitments


3. Secure funding from diverse sources

B) Identify funding targets (local, state-wide and national) that align with new organizational focus (e.g., foundations, corporations, etc.) C) Focus on landing multi-year funding commitments D) Develop funding strategy, timeline and resources to support efficient funding



• Fully develop fundraising strategy

• Secure new support from one or more of each: private foundation, corporation, high net-worth individual

• Raise $250K YEAR TWO

• Secure new support from one or more of each: private foundation, corporation, high net-worth individual

• Raise $325K YEAR THREE

• Secure new support from one or more of each: private foundation, corporation, high net-worth individual

• Raise $400K 22

FOUNDATIONAL THEME: Increase leadership capacity of TOP staff and board members

GOALS AND OBJECTIVES GOAL: To engage designated human resources that support the program execution and sustainability




1. Diversify human resource pools

A) Explore additional (non-FTE) sources of support (e.g., students, volunteers, contractors, etc.)

• Board training with 100%

B) Identify people and skillsets needed to support program goals, ideally with specific responsibilities of one of our core groups

• Four additional board

C) Establish a human resource plan D) Create a budget to support needs

• Number of board members • Number of subcommittees • Number of Advisory Council Members


• Establish subcommittees YEAR TWO

2. Build capacity of the Board


A) Complete board development training with 100% of the board members

• .5 FTE new staff (media/

B) Recruit board members with diverse experience, background and constituent base

• Redefine Advisory Council


C) Including previous winners and TLC lead D) Revise the bylaws to reflect the current needs of the organization E) Maintain subgroups (committees) to further the work


of board

• Three additional board

SUCCESS DEFINED BY: • Number of staff members



• Three additional board members

• .5 FTE new staff





















Management and General




Fundraising / Development







Total Program Services

Total Expense







Ted Griffith

Benjamin Portman

Katie Michaels Post

Principal, Eco Terra Management, LLC.

Financial Advisor, Morgan Stanley

Director of Development for Strategic Partnerships, The Lovett School

Sal Arora

Wilson Kieffer

Ned Michaels

Lee Sobel

Rubye Sullivan

Senior Partner, McKinsey & Company

President, eWaste ePlanet

Host/Analyst, CBS, Fox Sports, United States Golf Assoc., Direct TV, PGA Tour Entertainment/PGATour.com, “Tips from the Pro”

Sales Manager, WSB-TV

Senior Associate for Education Achievement, Annie E. Casey Foundation






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