The Urban Assembly (UA) is dedicated to empowering under-served students by providing them with the academic and life skills necessary for college and career success. By partnering with the NYC Department of Education, UA is able to serve nearly 9,000 students each year in 23 public schools across the city.
The Urban Assembly came to Cause Effective to grow and develop its board’s ability to govern more strategically -- and realize its full potential for fundraising at levels appropriate to the growth of the organization.
Cause Effective helped The Urban Assembly create board committees and assess current board members’ readiness and capabilities to lead those committees. Over a six-month period, the board elected a new slate of officers and shifted the focus at board meetings from financial details to broader policy interests. As a result, UA created its first-ever Program Policy and Strategy Committee to help the CEO steer through the knotty issues of a shifting environment for school reform.
According to UA’s Founder Richard Kahan: “The reorganization of the board into committees truly engaged the board in the work we are doing. The new structure created a real partnership between staff and board, with a constant flow of focused information and ideas going both ways.”
“Cause Effective helped us have a facilitated conversation on difficult topics so we could better address the current issues facing the organization,” remarked new board vice-chair (now CEO) Kristin Kearns Jordan. “You didn't tell us what we wanted to hear, you told us what we needed to hear.”
Cause Effective worked closely with the Governance Committee and conducted a needs assessment to inform board recruitment as well as establish recruitment and onboarding procedures that productively engage new members. Jeff Smith, new board chair, noted: “Cause Effective’s clear thinking on these issues not only opened new doors with new people, but also helped reinvigorate long-time Board members and stimulate new inspiration and ideas from within.”
Cause Effective also worked with the board’s Fundraising Committee to increase overall participation in fundraising for UA’s annual benefit, resulting in a first-ever benefit honoree and event chair, increased table sales, and a 15% higher net.
The result? A proactive board that is well situated to address key issues related to organizational governance, including the transition from a founder-led institution to next-stage growth under its second CEO.