Coalition of Essential Schools

By Gregory J. Dees

In May, 2000 Hudi Podolsky assumed the position of executive director of CES and needed to act quickly. CES was an early educational reform organization dedicated to widespread implementation of certain fundamental educational principles in primary and secondary schools in the United States.

The main problem was that traditional sources of funding (primarily foundations) were increasingly less willing to support CES. Podolsky needed to determine a new and sustainable fundraising strategy, and had asked Stanford’s Alumni Consulting Team (ACT) to help do it.

The case is narrated from ACT’s perspective, which allows deeper questioning of organizational issues and capabilities as well as Podolsky’s ability to turn CES around. There are significant challenges around organizational structure, value proposition, marketing, and operating procedures, as well as around fundraising.

Stanford Graduate School of Business