Deloitte Hosts Strategy Workshop for Environmental Charter Schools Leadership and a Fictional Case Study Program for Students

July 1, 2015

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by Andrew Harrell, Senior Manager, Deloitte Consulting LLP Copyright © 2015 Deloitte Development LLC

When Alison Suffet Diaz, Executive Director at Environmental Charter Schools (ECS), approached Carl Engle, principal at Deloitte Consulting LLP, and a friend through the City Scholars non-profit organization, with questions about setting new strategic direction in her schools, she didn't imagine that the discussion would end on the 26th floor of Deloitte's downtown Los Angeles office. But that's exactly where she found herself when, on June 5, Deloitte hosted the ECS Board of Directors, administrators and faculty, and students, as a part of Deloitte Impact Day, the company's national day of community service.

Deloitte's Impact Day Team with students from Environmental Charter High School. Photo Credit: Environmental Charter School

Deloitte's work with ECS began when Mr. Engle suggested that a few Deloitte Consulting LLP Senior Consultants - Andrew Harrell, Zach Goldman, and Celia Xue - attend a vision planning session one Saturday with the ECS Board of Directors. During that session, Deloitte learned more about the organization, reviewed accomplishments against an existing three-year strategic plan, and heard ECS's end-state goals for its program. Several ideas were discussed for how the program could expand, including the possibility of offering professional development to inform educators about the classroom leading practices currently in use at ECS.

During the following five months, the Deloitte team surveyed academic research and conducted interviews with stakeholders at ECS and subject matter specialists both within Deloitte and at other schools. The team summarized its findings in a framework that can help ECS better understand the pros and cons of each option for professional development, and the tradeoffs that should be considered when deciding how ECS will deploy its resources.

"We wanted to give ECS a way to understand not just a few options for professional development, but the whole spectrum of PD opportunities, and the resource requirements for each specific possibility," said Ms. Xue.

On Impact Day, the ECS leadership team had a chance to discuss both organizational strengths and opportunities that exist for rolling out new professional development programming. "The Deloitte team provided us with a framework to help us facilitate a strategic conversation. We were able to accomplish more than I would've expected in such a short amount of time" reflected Ms. Diaz after the strategy planning session. For the Deloitte team, though, the best surprise was yet to come.

To help ECS in a more immediately tangible way, Margaux Bennett, another Consultant in Deloitte Consulting LLP, led an initiative to develop a program for ECS students called "A Day in the Life of a Consultant." For Dr. Bennett, "[teaching] students how they can apply their academic learnings in the real world was extremely fulfilling. I was grateful that my colleagues and I had the opportunity to watch them realize that they have the ability to apply their current knowledge and skills to solve a problem that we, consultants at Deloitte, would be asked to advise on." The afternoon student program included more than 20 students from ECS who worked in small teams to solve a consulting problem with close tie-ins to the environmentally-themed curriculum at ECS. Students conducted a client interview, performed quantitative analysis, and presented their findings and recommendations in short presentations. "It really was very similar to what we as consultants do in real life," said Mr. Goldman. "I'm just glad we got to show that to some pretty cool kids in a unique way."

Overall, Deloitte's 2015 Impact Day involved thousands of Deloitte practitioners across the country volunteering in over 950 service projects. Impact Day is an important part of Deloitte's commitment to making impact that matters for its clients, people, and communities.

About Environmental Charter Schools (ECS) Environmental Charter Schools (ECS) is a network of free public schools in underserved communities of South Los Angeles. It prepares students for 4-year colleges through a unique program that focuses on experiential learning and uses the environment as a way to both engage students and prepare them to become leaders in their communities. The neighborhoods served by ECS have crime rates that are twice that of the national average, low levels of educational attainment, and high levels of poverty. Even so, 98% of Environmental Charter High School graduates complete the coursework necessary for admission to a four-year college or university compared to about 35% statewide. In addition to ECHS, there are two middle school campuses - ECMS-Gardena and ECMS-Inglewood. For more information, visit