Advancing Systemic Change and Education Equity for All.
Our ambitious mission is realized through our central strategy:
Catalyzing non-profit and agency leadership to engage in data-informed, systems improvement strategies.
We see this belief and mission as a 21st century representation of Dr. Foster’s vision for the organization. They stem from experiences of working for over four decades in education advocacy and the realization that a sole focus on direct services to students in under resourced districts is insufficient as evidenced by generationally persistent disparities in education outcomes. Without a parallel set of actions that create data-informed systems of accountability, equitable goals are not as likely to be achieved nor is it likely that any worthwhile change will be maintained or grow.
MFEI utilizes the Networked Improvement Community (NIC) Continuous Improvement process to facilitate cross sector groups to establish:
- A common definition and understanding of the problem being addressed;
- The root causes of the problem;
- How the interventions actually address the problem; and
- What metrics will be used to determine whether or not the targets are being reached in real time.
The NIC establishes a culture of mutual accountability and a space for dialogue when targets are and are not being met. This embedded approach identifies the barriers in systems to achieving targets, determines the essential precursors required to accomplish the common goal and helps to project the needs in a way that ensures long term success.
MFEI has successfully used the NIC process in two major initiatives over the past 3 years. The first is a universal financial aid completion initiative in the Oakland Unified School District. Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) completion rates were 40% in 2011 by 2014 FAFSA completion rose to 70% and the District adopted all of the best practices in using data and deploying staff to improve completion rates for all students. These gains and successes are the result of systemic improvements resulting from the NIC process implemented in every school and more importantly at the District level thus maximizing student access to federal and state sources of financial aid, upwards of $12,000/student/year.
Another initiative that MFEI manages focuses on college success and completion for African American young men who are high school graduates from the nine Bay Area Counties. Since 2013, MFEI has worked with five school districts, nine non-profit partners, numerous California Community College campuses and four year institutions, parents and students. We led the application of the NIC process and are now seeing 98-100% postsecondary retention and persistence rates among African American young men, far outpacing the rates of other African American young men at the same postsecondary institutions. We helped to build the capacity of nonprofits, in partnership with school districts, followed the NIC process while demonstrating the importance of applying a systems lens and posed critical questions regarding the changes needed in systems to improve the young men’s success rates. This process ensured that the direct work with students was happening in the most impactful and productive way. If the aim is impact at scale, the effort has to incorporate questions, metrics and analysis about how systems impede or facilitate success as measured by the collaborative.
WHY THE NIC PROCESS WORKS
The ultimate benefits resulting from this process are generally twofold:
1. when targeted equity efforts are deployed collateral benefits are gained for other students and 2. this process is often adopted to various degrees by each participant and applied to other issues with success.
Based on our observations and reflection on partners' experiences, collective gains are realized because:
- A value set and culture is built around the fact that no system is perfect, we can all improve in our work and learn what works and why;
- The successes we achieve individually are dwarfed by the successes achieved collectively;
- It is impossible to achieve collective success unless it is defined collectively;
- Collective success is most likely to happen when a neutral convener can pose the honest and difficult questions, provide trusted analysis and support the testing and implementation of the change idea with all members of the collaborative; and
- Without fail, every single person that MFEI has engaged with in this process has wanted better outcomes and opportunities for their students.
In addition to technical assistance in completing a NIC process to achieve systemic equity in education, the MFEI team offers training and capacity building supports and services:
Four Phases of Financial Aid Training and On-going Technical Assistance supporting universal financial aid completion;
Public-private, multi-sectoral partnerships that build substantive relationships for equitable change;
Fiscal and Initiative Intermediary Agency;
Data Review and Analysis;
Scholarship Administration; and
If you are interested in learning more about the implementation of MFEI's training and capacity building supports to impact systems please fill out the form below and someone from our organization will reach out to you. We are excited to apply these Change Making skills to the equity challenges faced by your organization.