Envision Schools

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Medal-big-2010
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"Up" is the number of experts who agree that the nonprofit has had the most impact in the field. "Down" is the number of experts who disagree that the nonprofit has had the most impact in field.
Envision-schools
Headquarters Location: Oakland, CA
Founded: 2002


Mission: Envision Schools was founded in June 2002 as a 501(c)(3) charter school management organization to bring high quality college preparatory education to communities with the greatest need, with the goal of sending all the organization's students to college. Envision Schools targets underserved urban youth, particularly those who are first in their families to attend college, in communities of color and neighborhoods served by underperforming public schools.


Tags: bay area, middle-secondary education, educational management, educational preparation, athletics, summer program, arts education, 2010


Envision-schools
Story: Why would teenagers use an iTunes gift card to purchase SAT apps? Learn more about the values Envision Schools foster in their students: When Envision Academy seniors Farouk Alkaifee and Javaree Gaines won $10 iTunes gift cards for a presentation… Read the full story.

Expert Reviews: Evidence of Impact
They have developed a clear theory, educational model and have a strong track record for engaging low-income high school students in meaningful learning and accelerating their achievement utilizing a project based learning model, coupled with real world experiences in work places. They have also been equally innovative in their approach to performance-based assessment and use of student exhibition and portfolio review. 100% of Envision Schools' graduates have gone on to post-secondary education and have persisted in large numbers.
See the complete expert review.

Leadership
Envision-schools Bob Lenz. Bob Lenz is the Chief Education Officer and Co-founder of Envision Schools. Bob and his educational support team at Envision Schools help school leaders and teachers create the culture, processes, systems, curriculum and assessments that produce powerful teaching and learning, a community of learners and results. Bob has served public education as a teacher, student activities director, school reform leader,… See full bio.


Transparency Information
Silver-big
This organization has earned the GuideStar Participation Level Silver, demonstrating its commitment to transparency (learn more)


Financial Data
Total Revenue:
$13,115,683


From the Nonprofit
The nonprofit has not added any comments yet. If you are a representative of this nonprofit and would like to leave a comment, please email us at feedback@myphilanthropedia.org with your request.


Contact Info
E-Mail:
info AT envisionschools.org
Phone:
510-451-2415
Facebook:
Follow_fb
Address:
436 14th Street, Suite 920
 
Oakland, CA 94612 , USA
Twitter:
Follow_twitter


Envision-schools Story: Why would teenagers use an iTunes gift card to purchase SAT apps? Learn more about the values Envision Schools foster in their students: When Envision Academy seniors Farouk Alkaifee and Javaree Gaines won $10 iTunes gift cards for a presentation they made to the Oakland charter school organization's board of directors, they didn't run out to buy the latest hit song or download a new ring tone. Instead, they bought SAT apps for their cell phones. Now that may sound like odd - or even nerdy - behavior from a teenager, but when you understand the charter school's mission and the students' mantra, it makes sense: Everybody goes to college. Everybody. There are no exceptions. About 70 percent of the students come from low-income families and qualify for the federal government's school lunch program, said Rick Gaston, Envision Academy's principal. But so far the academy, which has 1,200 students at its four high schools in San Francisco, Oakland and Hayward, has achieved astonishing results. This fall, 93 percent of the 110 students who graduated in June from its two San Francisco schools are enrolled in college. Among that group, 82 percent chose four-year schools. Eight students went to University of California campuses. "Every student has that spark within them, but you have to create an opportunity for learning," said Bob Lenz, a co-founder of Envision Academy. Alkaifee and Gaines are on track to be part of the Oakland school's first graduating class of 35 students in June. The students' achievement is all the more remarkable because in many instances, they will be the first in their families to go to college. Although their parents may not have known firsthand what it takes to get to college, they had that aspiration for their children. For many, the initial attraction to Envision Academy was that it provided students with a safe environment, Lenz said. The school is at the YWCA building on Webster Street in downtown Oakland, a Julia Morgan design. Inside, the old building with an atrium five stories high resembles a well-established, well-heeled East Coast private school - dripping with tradition and finished oak. Students learn through experience, by doing, in both real-world and academic settings. Projects run the academic gamut, from car-crash projects that teach students the science of physics, to history assignments that require students to identify 18th century philosophers and explain how their thinking influenced the Founding Fathers. (Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2009/10/13/BA4I1A3OMP.DTL#ixzz0xpHTlGDn)

Expert Reviews of Envision Schools

Evidence of Impact Summary:

They have developed a clear theory, educational model and have a strong track record for engaging low-income high school students in meaningful learning and accelerating their achievement utilizing a project based learning model, coupled with real world experiences in work places. They have also been equally innovative in their approach to performance-based assessment and use of student exhibition and portfolio review. 100% of Envision Schools' graduates have gone on to post-secondary education and have persisted in large numbers.
See expert comments.

Organization Strengths Summary:

Most every expert surveyed cited leadership, particularly that of Bob Lenz, as clear strength of the Envision Schools program. Others praise top leadership as well as broader staff members. Envision's willingness to share lessons learned with the K-12 system won praise from many. Finally, the Envision learning approach is noted as a meaningful and effective means of closing the achievement gap.
See expert comments.

Areas for Improvement Summary:

Though some respondents note lack of scale as a concern, they temper those criticisms with the consideration that Envision has been working to expand as of late. In a similar vein, many experts express a desire for envision to do a better job of collaborating and sharing knowledge with schools outside its network.
See expert comments.

Expert Comments: Evidence of Impact

Select the boxes to display the results according to expert type.

Show:
X
Foundation Professionals (F)
X
Researchers and Faculty (R)
X
Nonprofit Senior Staff (N)
X
Other (consultants, journalists, policy makers) (O)

Impact

F
Its impact can be gauged by the persistence in college by its graduates - stunningly above the norm.
F
They have developed a clear theory, educational model and have a strong track record for engaging low-income high school students in meaningful learning and accelerating their achievement utilizing a project based learning model, coupled with real world experiences in work places. They have also been equally innovative in their approach to performance-based assessment and use of student exhibition and portfolio review.
R
These are superb charter schools. I've done work with students and teachers at their schools.
N
Hundreds of Envision Schools' students are now in college after having had a successful and meaningful high school experience.
N
They are making enormous strides in all ways for at risk youth. They are improving academic performance but delivering diverse, rigorous and relevant curriculum and programming for youth.
O
100% of Envision Schools' graduates have gone on to post-secondary education and have persisted in large numbers.


Expert Comments: Organization Strengths

Select the boxes to display the results according to expert type.

Show:
X
Foundation Professionals (F)
X
Researchers and Faculty (R)
X
Nonprofit Senior Staff (N)
X
Other (consultants, journalists, policy makers) (O)

Program design

F
Envision uses next generation assessments, project-based curricula, and teaching approaches.
R
I've chosen to help Envision because of the values, the emphasis on project based learning, the success in reaching underserved students, and the superb leadership. The success and the promise totally justify giving Envision more support.

Leadership

F
They have an enormously creative and thoughtful leadership with a focused and disciplined approach. Envision also has a commitment to fostering an open source approach and to taking the lessons they have learned within the charter arena and helping the broader K-12 system utilize them.
R
They have a superb CEO, Bob Lenz, and an excellent staff; they are creating schools that are critically needed.
N
Leadership in every organization is key and this organization is no exception. The vision of Envision Schools of making sure that every student has a meaningful high school experiences is followed through each day. The staff of the organization is another strength because a small army of educators are having a profound impact on so many students. More importantly, these educators are growing in numbers and slowly spreading to the public sector of traditional public schools.
N
Strong leadership and excellent marketing--not that marketing is an indicator of quality. However, their marketing allows them to leverage gains and contribute to dialogue in the sector on quality education.
O
Envision has visionary leadership for 21st century learning. Bob Lenz has done the kind of work in the classroom that his now leading at an organizational level. The strong emphasis on professionalism and professional growth will help their long-term sustainability.

Political connections

F
The founder had exceptional political connections that opened many doors and allowed them get charters for several schools.

Vision

N
Envision is one of the few organizations that is genuinely focusing on the issue of engaging students rather than the usual "kill and drill" approach.
N
Not surprisingly, the strength of Envision is its vision.

Financial strength

N
They have strong fiscal management and sound educational philosophy and their leadership is one of the best.


Expert Comments: Areas for Improvement

Select the boxes to display the results according to expert type.

Show:
X
Foundation Professionals (F)
X
Researchers and Faculty (R)
X
Nonprofit Senior Staff (N)
X
Other (consultants, journalists, policy makers) (O)

Scalability

F
They will continue to need to be thoughtful about how they effectively scale the model and disseminate the practices while maintaining quality.
O
Envision needs to figure out a sustainable strategy for bringing their tools and processes to more students beyond the network of schools that they run. I think they could take the opportunity to lead some existing schools through transformation, leveraging the federal money available now.

Standardize model across schools

F
Performance across the different Envision schools is highly variable suggesting there is not a solid educational model in place. A dog and pony show for the media, aided by political connections, cannot substitute for measurable academic performance. There are other charter models that consistently far outperform Envision schools - even with worse demographics.

Collaboration

N
Envision Schools needs to find more ways to allocate their resources in research and dissemination. Funders should partner with Envision Schools in developing this area in order to create similar organizations.
N
Envision could partner more with community organizations that enrich arts and academic programming in a robust way.
N
Improvement is needed in disseminating information to regular public schools. Their best practices should be part of the work that Envision Schools provide for their neighboring schools.

Program Design

N
I think they need work on execution. They haven't figured out how to make project based learning work for kids who come to them way behind and under-educated.


Leadership

Envision-schools
Bob Lenz
Chief Education Officer and Co-founder
Bob Lenz is the Chief Education Officer and Co-founder of Envision Schools. Bob and his educational support team at Envision Schools help school leaders and teachers create the culture, processes, systems, curriculum and assessments that produce powerful teaching and learning, a community of learners and results. Bob has served public education as a teacher, student activities director, school reform leader, consultant and principal. Bob has an undergraduate degree from St. Mary's College in Moraga, California and a M.A. in Education from San Francisco State University. Bob lives in San Rafael, CA with his wife, Cathy, and their children, Evelyn and Brendan.

From the Nonprofit

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