Catalyst:Ed is a national nonprofit that unlocks the collective expertise in the education sector to help organizations innovate, excel and scale. We inform and connect education leaders – the change makers – with the top management and talent they need for their short-term, mission-critical needs. In the process, we democratize access to expertise, amplifying the impact of the sector’s brightest talent and redefining the limits of organizational capacity.
Yes, you may. You can apply as an individual or on behalf of the firm. The firm level application is best if you are applying on behalf of a mid- to large-sized firm with multiple areas of expertise. That way even as we “tag” you with your individual areas of expertise in our system, we also have a sense of the additional capabilities that your firm may bring to support work that you may do on projects. E.g., a consultant with solid strategic planning expertise may work with a firm that also brings technology expertise (even though she herself may not have those skills). On the other hand, if you primarily work as an independent consultant or with a smaller boutique consulting firm, the individual level application would be a better fit. Either way, you must commit to being a part of the team on any project that you propose to.
We rely on our providers adhering to our terms to continue offering our services without an upfront cost to organizations or providers. Working on a project that you heard about through Catalyst:Ed and not informing us to avoid paying the service fee would be a breach of the trust we place on our network. It would also constitute a violation of our Terms of Service. If you know of an organization or provider circumventing us after being connected by us, please let us know by sending an email to [email protected].
We cover our costs through a combination of foundation grants and earned revenue in the form of matching fees charged for projects. Fees are charged once the projects are matched—providers and organizations will pay 5% of the final accepted project proposal. Organizations and providers matched on projects funded by a foundation pay no fee. For more details on our matching fees, see this blog post.
The hourly rate charged by providers varies widely depending on skill areas, nature and years of experience, and interest in a project. Every project is different, and you should determine a rate that’s right for you given your need. Email us at [email protected] if you need some more guidance.
The partner organization reviews all proposals and decides who they want to interview and then, who they want to work with. The interviews are a great opportunity for the partner and the provider to learn more about each other and gauge “fit”.
Absolutely. We recognize that some projects may be best served through a team-based approach. As long as one of the consultants is in the Catalyst:Ed network, you may work with another consultant in- or out-of-network. However, the in-network consultant must serve as the lead on the project. We do encourage all team members to apply to become part of our network as it will help us build and strengthen our community of educational professionals from across the country. We have also introduced network members to each other and encouraged them to jointly apply for projects that require a mix of skills.
The notification email will link to a more detailed scope. If you’re interested, you can submit your proposal using the form embedded in the scope. The proposal typically consists of 3-4 pages with your proposed approach and workplan, your relevant experience and your budget.
No – it is entirely up to you whether to apply or not. We recognize that you may not have capacity or may not be interested. If you’re not sure about the timing or the fit, you are always welcome to ask. There is no penalty for not applying to projects.
We are constantly refining our matching process. As of now, we match along multiple dimensions, such as subject area (e.g., personalized learning, education policy, human capital management, etc.), project type (e.g., design, implementation, coaching, facilitation, etc.), experience level (Senior, Mid, Junior, etc.) and location (relevant for many, although not all projects).
No. We take your privacy very seriously. Your profile will not be available to anyone unless you apply for a project or you explicitly give us permission to profile you in our list of “Featured Providers”. If you do apply for a project, we will share your profile information with the organization that posted the project.
At the project midpoint and once a project is completed, we ask both parties to provide feedback and review their experiences on the project. The feedback is shared with the counterparty. Providers who propose for projects have the option of sharing their past feedback with prospective clients, although we do not require them to do so. We also ask both parties to review their experiences with Catalyst:Ed, so we can get better at serving our network.
Once a bid is accepted, we ask the organization and the provider to complete a project work order form specifying the following:
Why: The purpose of the project
What: The end deliverables and timing for completing the project
By When: Agreed upon intermediate milestones and deadlines
How: Key process elements that will be followed to achieve the project milestones and deliverables
Who: Clear delineation of critical path tasks between experts and organization team members.
Check-in schedule and format (e.g., in-person, by phone, over email) between organization and expert
Budget, including estimated number of hours
The work order helps Catalyst:Ed ensure that all parties are on the same page with respect to the project and surfaces any potential for misalignment. Once the work order is completed, we ask the organization and provider to sign a Service Contract with each other and get started right away.
Organizations can ask for further details from our providers or propose a revised proposal (different budget, time frame, etc.). However, it is up to the provider whether or not to accept the revised proposal.
Once a project is posted, we identify and notify providers with relevant skills, experiences, and interests, and invite them to submit project proposals. Depending on the project, while some proposals may be received within a few hours of a project being posted, others may be received in a few days. Organizations that would like to interview providers they feel good about can reach out to Catalyst:Ed for help with scheduling interviews. We encourage organizations to make a decision as soon as feasible to ensure that providers remain available.
It’s free to post a project and receive proposals from providers. If you decide to work with a provider that we connect you with, we charge you a nominal service fee of 5% of the total project cost for making the match. Non-profit organizations led by a person of color, who primarily serve people of color, and who have an annual budget of less than $1M may apply to have their fees waived, and paid instead through our Equity Fund. Please contact us if this applies to you and you are interested in scoping a project.
Projects vary greatly in terms of cost and timing depending on factors such as the nature of the project, the level of skills and experience required and time sensitivity of deliverables. We have matched projects ranging from $250 for a 2-hour phone consultation to over $150,000 for a multi-month engagement.
We tag projects along various dimensions, including type (e.g., design, implementation, etc.), domain (e.g., personalized learning, special education, etc.), organization type, and geography. We then request proposals from providers whose characteristics match the project requirements. You review the profiles and proposals of all providers who respond and decide whom to interview and whom to work with.
Providers who apply to the Catalyst:Ed Expert network are vetted through a rigorous 3-stage application, interview, and reference check process. We evaluate relevant experience and expertise and look for demonstrated commitment to improving student outcomes. The process also helps us gather the information we need to make more informed matches.
Our membership of vetted providers comprises of prominent professionals who are eager to amplify their impact by working on high impact projects. Their backgrounds range from education specialists to management experts and C-level leaders, from noted academics and researchers to prominent practitioners. Some are affiliated with organizations, while others work as independent consultants. All have a minimum of seven years of experience.
We help you articulate and prioritize your needs, which helps us develop a detailed project scope that we then share with our provider network. Our clients find the scoping process incredibly helpful and have compared it to “part speaking with an education provider, part speaking with a therapist”.
We’ve learned from experience that organizations often appreciate our help with scoping projects. When a project is listed we reach out to the organization to schedule time for a needs assessment. Based on the needs assessment, we develop a detailed project scope. A sample scope can be found here. Once the scope is approved by the client, we share it with network members whose skills and expertise are aligned to the project requirements.
Many of the projects listed on our website currently are the result of direct outreach by us. We invest significant effort into building relationships with education organizations around the country. We also get referrals from foundations, state agencies and associations. Finally, some of the projects have come to us via our network, with network members reaching out to us when they hear of work that they are unable to take on.
Projects matched by us span both academic and non-academic areas and, depending on requirements, can be as short as a phone consultation or as long as a multi-year engagement. Clients come to us seeking expertise in areas as broad as strategic planning and project management and as narrow as earned revenue strategy development and Medicaid.
We work with all kinds of organizations serving kids and youth. Our clients include schools, school districts, charter school applicants, non-profits, community groups and foundations. We also work with education start-ups, startup accelerators, education consulting firms looking for excess capacity and associations.