Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative, January 2019

    This Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative teaching case covers City of Louisville's effort to increase students’ college and career readiness. On the morning of June 4, 2018, members of Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer’s Louisville Promise Cabinet assembled around a U-shaped table in a downtown office building. 

    Parents as Teachers: Missouri – 1987 Innovations Winner 

    In the early 1980s, Missouri’s director of early childhood education launched a novel parent education pilot project designed to increase children’s kindergarten readiness and support family well-being by sending specially trained educators on monthly home visits to help parents foster their babies’ early development. By 1985, when an evaluation touted strong results for the pilot, the Missouri legislature already had made the program – dubbed Parents as Teachers – a mandatory offering of school districts statewide. Soon after, the St. Louis-based Parents as Teachers National Center, formed to oversee the state program and respond to outside inquiries, became an independent nonprofit. From the start, the National Center staff built quality controls into program design and the training of parent educators while simultaneously embracing rapid growth; by 1999 Parents as Teachers programs served more than 500,000 children in the U.S. and six foreign countries. But despite such quality control efforts, the flexibility and adaptability that aided fast replication left the National Center with no effective way to manage or monitor the more than 2,000 sites worldwide. As a result, the National Center was forced to take a hard look at its replication model, its oversight role, and at how the center could better monitor and improve program quality.

    This two-case series allows discussion of key issues facing growing nonprofits, in particular, weighing the tradeoffs inherent in different replication strategies; managing the tension between rapid growth and quality control; and analyzing how political and funding constraints can impact program design. While the (A) case addresses replication, training, organizational structures, and program design, the (B) case focuses on questions around evaluation, program fidelity, and implementation of quality standards.