Monday, July 27, 2009

Scalable and Sustainable

One of the big issues with the ARRA funds and the Race to the Top challenge is the supposed short term nature of this incredible boost in funding. This is a one time opportunity with billions of dollars to be used to give our education system a push in the right direction.

The concern from all sides is what will happen when the funds are gone.

On the right, they are deathly afraid that the spending will continue and the results will be mediocre at best. On the left, they are deathly afraid that the opportunity will be squandered with little or nothing to show for it.

So we keep hearing words like sustainable and scale. Yet the funds continue to go to organizations that have neither. Being sustainable and moving to scale are incredibly difficult in any organization but even more challenging in education.

Perhaps that is why we at ABCTE are so proud of the fact that we are achieving both and celebrating this week. We are leaving our federal grant having been great stewards of those funds and running independently from this day forward. Right now, we have a enough cash to cover the shortfall between what we are charging per candidate and our actual costs per candidate.

We can do this for the three years it will take to get to break-even – a true representation of moving to scale. However, it would be great to be able to conserve some of that cash and maybe even charge less if some of the education philanthropists would come to the table with us.

Regardless, we have created a completely scalable organization that has a business model that allows us to be self-sustaining. A rarity in non-profits and almost unheard of in education.

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