United Community Schools (UCS), formerly known as The NYC Community Learning Schools Initiative, works to improve student achievement by addressing the educational, emotional, social and health issues that can stand in the way of learning. UCS leverages its on-site Community School Directors (CSDs) to mobilize the expertise, energy and resources of carefully selected community organizations to provide vital services to public schools, making each a hub in its community. UCS was launched in 2012 by the United Federation of Teachers with six demonstration schools, a number that has now grown to over 30 schools.

Orr Group began its partnership with UCS by developing a high-level strategic road map to articulate UCS’ three-year goals, determine how UCS’ model and programs would help the organization achieve those goals, and assess how philanthropy was needed to support this road map. As part of this process, we also assisted in identifying, cultivating, and recruiting new board members who could drive both financial and programmatic success. To build organizational buy-in and create a culture of transparency, we included prospective board members and stakeholders in the strategic planning effort.

Part of UCS’ future growth plans is to establish and launch a state-wide educational institute. To help guide this next phase, Orr Group is working with UCS’ leadership and new Executive Director to establish the institute as a means for the organization to positively and significantly impact the provision of community-based learning services in New York City, in the state of New York, and more broadly across the nation. This work includes developing a pipeline of institutional funders and establishing an advisory board and governing board to drive both oversight of and fundraising for the new institute.

Orr Group worked with UCS to develop a high-level strategic road map to articulate its goals, determine how its model and programs would move it towards those goals, and harness the power of philanthropy.