Got an email from Russ Altenburg ('12) last night, alerting me that a team of UCLA Anderson students took first place at the Haas Education Leadership Case Competition. Russ shared with me a draft of an article written for The Exhange, with an offer to run the piece on The UCLA Anderson Blog.
Check it out:
A UCLA Anderson team comprised of Russ Altenburg, Aviva Altmann (’13), Amy Braun (’13), and Stuti Goswamy (’13) was awarded first place at the 5th Annual Haas Education Leadership Case Competition held February 17-18 in Berkeley, CA. Ten business school teams participated, including Harvard, Stanford, Wharton, Haas, and USC.
“The purpose of the annual case competition is to bring attention to critical, real-time issues in education, and to provide an opportunity for talented and dedicated graduate students to create potential solutions to these issues,” said Altmann. This year’s case focused on the San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD), which recently received a $45m federally funded School Improvement Grant to close the achievement gap between different ethnic subgroups. With the nation’s largest disparity between average and lowest performing students, SFUSD was awarded the grant to specifically improve ten schools with the widest achievement gaps.
Since the grant is short-term capital that runs out after three years, the case teams were tasked with recommending sustainable strategies for closing the achievement gap, using the $45m as an inflection point to create long-term structural change within the district. Braun shared that SFUSD wanted recommendations on systems and methodologies to ensure continual improvement through innovation and best practice sharing. “Our plan centered on teacher-centric initiatives to inspire behavior change at those ten schools, which we based on growing research that, of all school resources, effective teachers have the single largest impact on student achievement.”
“Ultimately, the collective education experience of the team was key, with each of us having devoted many years to education reform domestically and internationally,” asserted Goswamy. Prior to business school, Braun and Goswamy served as Teach for America teachers. Goswamy taught high school English in inner-city Los Angeles in both the public school district and then a charter school management organization. Braun taught 5th grade in the Bronx, and later joined the management team of Harlem Village Academies. Altmann worked for Green Dot Public Schools, where she gained a deep understanding of funding, program development, community partnerships, and extracurricular programs. Altenburg co-founded Global Playground, a nonprofit focused on building schools in developing countries and facilitating cross-cultural dialogue. He is now also part of the founding team of an education technology startup.
“Anderson students have an amazing desire to focus their talents on social impact, and I’m happy that this win can help put a spotlight on that fact,” says Altenburg, President of Net Impact. Having grown from eight members in 2006 to 120 members today, the Anderson Net Impact chapter is on track to earn Gold Chapter designation, reserved for the most active social impact business schools in the world. This was evidenced in January, when 116 students provided strategic recommendations to 20 local nonprofits as part of the school’s largest ever Net Impact Consulting Challenge. Looking ahead, Altenburg plans to launch Anderson’s first Social Impact Conference on April 20th. “With graduation coming up in June, I feel like the best way I can give back to my peers is to be vocal about the need for Anderson to up its commitment to social impact, through better support from the career center, additional courses, funding for pro-social partnerships like TED, and admissions. My hope is that our administrative leaders will do more to support students who can and will be leaders in social entrepreneurship and impact.”