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In 1992, the Reichs started an innovative public school in a low-income area of New York City to provide quality education to urban children that the public school system was not serving properly. They had founded the Beginning with Children Foundation in 1989 as a public foundation to support the school.
Alternative public schools did not exist when the Reichs were planning the educational and business model for their school. In addition to getting a site, negotiating with the NYC Board of Education, and raising funds, they had to create an effective educational model and curriculum whose performance could be measured, enlist the support of teachers and parents to the model, and publicize their accomplishments.
The case provides the background for the challenges the Foundation faced in its first eight years, and then opens for discussion what the new strategic direction might be for the Foundation after charter legislation passed in 1998, and the Reichs decided to convert the school to an independent charter.
The Foundation considered: (1) becoming an advocacy organization for charter schools and public school reform, (2) creating new charter schools by replicating the model, (3) converting to a national policy think tank to analyze accumulated data and publish studies, (4) becoming an educational consulting firm to provide strategic management and policy services to “client” schools, and (5) applying their educational model to turn around troubled schools.
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Case No: SI12