America Succeeds Updates

Looking Back: The Impact of State Partnerships in Education Reform

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

-Margaret Mead

Since the beginning, America Succeeds has steadfastly pursued its vision of building education systems to equip every student for success in a competitive global economy while contributing to their local communities. But our strategy to achieve that has evolved. As we commemorate our decade-long journey, we reflect on the monumental strides achieved through state partnerships and the Affiliate model, a pivotal chapter in our evolution. 

The Affiliate Model

Back in 2014, America Succeeds didn’t adhere to a set policy agenda; instead, we championed a network of state-based Affiliates, each a beacon of non-partisan, business-led nonprofit advocacy in K-12 education. The network was united by a mission to elevate and expand the business voice in public education, and guided by a shared set of five core principles. These principles, which are critical to the success of any business, are equally important in transforming the education system:

  1. Customer-focus: putting students first in all policies and practices 
  2. Accountability: assigning direct responsibility for excellence in outcomes throughout the system 
  3. Transparency: enabling public access to clear, detailed financial and performance data 
  4. Return on Investment: effectively investing limited resources to achieve desired student outcomes 
  5. Choice & Innovation: empowering parents and students to choose – and educators to create – the best learning environments  

Affiliates’ policy priorities generally fit into the following categories:

  • Education-to-workforce pathways: Create flexibility, incentives, and alignment to ensure student readiness upon exiting K-12 systems to seamlessly enter and succeed in postsecondary pathways. 
  • System building and accountability: Create and align the public education systems’ expectations, benchmarks, and metrics to hold schools and districts accountable. 
  • Human capital: Improve systems for recruiting, training, retaining, and rewarding educators; use performance evaluations to inform talent management decisions.
  • Transparent and equitable funding: Establish a school funding system that is transparent, equitable, and aligned with broader improvement efforts that demonstrate sound return on investment.
  • High-quality options: Ensure all students have high-quality education options that are supported, fairly funded, and held accountable for student success, regardless of the delivery model. 

What We Provided

America Succeeds supported the Affiliates by providing expert consulting and capacity-building support. Our focus remained on creating transformative, student-centered policy change that leads to systemic improvement in education outcomes. Through a tailored scope of work, customized resources, comprehensive convenings, and specialized advising sessions, we empowered Affiliates to navigate complex policy landscapes and effect tangible change. The impact of the Affiliate model reverberated across the nation, as shown by the achievements of our original six Affiliates. 

The Affiliate Impact

America Succeeds’ Affiliate model supported a network of six organizations, spanning across seven states. By 2019, the network represented more than 5.34 million K-12 students and 724 business leaders. The original six affiliates achieved monumental milestones in education reform, becoming effective agents of change within their respective states. Here are some of the biggest wins we were proud to support our affiliates in achieving:

Colorado, Colorado Succeeds: 

  • Successful advocacy efforts led to a $3 million increase in funding for work-based learning opportunities and the removal of barriers to high school and district innovation. 
  • An advanced policy agenda included the passage of Senate Bill 106, which expanded student access to high-quality post-secondary pathways.

Arkansas, Arkansas Learns

  • Passed legislation prohibiting state, college/university and school district employees from collective bargaining that could negatively impact student experiences. 
  • Successfully advocated for Lafayette County School District’s participation in the state’s inter-district school choice.

Idaho, Idaho Business for Education (IBE)

  • Launched the Close-the-Divide campaign, which provided more than 3,000 computers to students in need and raised $500,000 to provide connectivity to students without internet service at home.
  • Supported the state in creating the first federally registered Youth Apprenticeship Program.

Kansas & Missouri, Aligned

  • Passed 90% of legislative priorities in 2020.
  • Championed $10M in new annual Pre-K funding for Kansas and $50M in Missouri, respectively.

North Carolina, BEST NC

  • Launched the first-ever North Carolina school-level per-pupil expenditure interactive tool to enable parents, educators, and policymakers to examine school-level spending. 
  • Two initiatives became official state programs: TeachNC was adopted by the Department of Public Instruction as an official state initiative with state funding, and the state finalized the TP3/Principal Fellows merger with an increase of $1.5M in funding.

Oklahoma, Oklahoma Achieves

  • Establishing a teacher career ladder in statute that gives teachers the ability to progress into their careers, while staying in the classroom.
  • Successfully backed a bill that provided Oklahoma with a long-term solution to aid in retaining its best teachers. 

Expanded Support

In celebrating Affiliates’ triumphs, we also recognize the impact of our expanded landscape of advocacy efforts, encompassing non-affiliate state partners in Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico, Massachusetts, and Texas. We facilitated the relaunch of A for Arizona as an independent education advocacy nonprofit, collaborated with Opportunity180 for the Nevada Age of Agility Summit, and assisted NewMexicoKidsCAN in drafting a financial transparency policy. Additionally, we provided strategic guidance to Massachusetts Business Alliance for Education (MBAE) and Texas Aspires, with MBAE successfully advocating for policy priorities like expanding student opportunities and addressing achievement gaps.


As we reflect on state-level partnerships, we’d be remiss to overlook the legendary EDventure summit, the one-of-a-king action-oriented summit for our Affiliate members and a select group of our partners, funders, and special guests. With unconventional speakers, engaging panels, and immersive experiences, EDventure was more than a summit; it was a transformative journey that fueled inspiration, innovation, and collaboration in the pursuit of educational excellence. The event celebrated the intersection of business and education policy and advocacy and, like any good adventure, was an exciting experience that challenged participants to explore boundaries, test their skills, take risks, and embrace new challenges. 

While we have transitioned from our Affiliate model to building national support for a unified policy agenda, America Succeeds remains grateful for the dedication and hard work of our affiliates, whose commitment to improving K-12 education have been instrumental in driving transformative change in their respective states. From advocating for policy reforms to launching innovative initiatives, the Affiliates have left an indelible mark on education reform. As we look towards the future, we look forward to fostering partnerships that amplify efforts to maximize equity, access, and opportunity for all generations to come.

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