A Learning Organization
The ability to learn quickly from experience and adapt well is a core strength of successful organizations. Well-designed strategy, careful planning and execution needs good feedback loops to ensure that we reflect, learn and improve constantly. Our communities deserve nothing less.
The narrative arc of Green Dot’s success would not be complete without acknowledging moments in our history when we have had to adapt quickly to correct missteps and ensure that our progress is constantly informed by Green Dot’s commitment to excellence. In this regard, the following instances stand out.
In 2006, Green Dot built and opened 5 schools as part of a strategy to relieve overcrowding and low performance at Thomas Jefferson High School. Jefferson High was running a four-track year round system, with student outcomes that placed it at the bottom of all high schools in LAUSD. Ánimo Pat Brown, Ánimo Ralph Bunche and Ánimo Jackie Robinson created public school choice for families in the community and have all gone on to significant and sustained success. A fourth high school, Ánimo Justice, opened on the same campus as Ánimo Ralph Bunche. It struggled with enrollment, partly because too many seats were created too quickly in the neighborhood, and partly because the pace of growth required a greater focus on human capital to source, train and support staff effectively at our schools. Eventually, Ánimo Justice merged with Ánimo Ralph Bunche to serve all students more fully and reflect the needs of the community. At the same time, Green Dot recognized an opportunity to create its first middle school on the campus to provide students and teachers with an earlier start to preparation for success in college. The proximity of Ánimo Jefferson Middle School and Ánimo Ralph Bunche High School, has created a thriving secondary school pathway for over 1,000 students in the community.
The fifth school to emerge in 2006 was Ánimo FTA – Film and Theatre Arts – a small specialty school with a different education model than other schools in the Green Dot network. It quickly became clear that the level of support required to sustain a single school like FTA to excellence was difficult to achieve at this scale, while the rest of the Green Dot network benefited significantly from replicable practices that Green Dot’s expert educators supported with year-over-year improvements. An agreement was reached to transfer operation of FTA to Big Picture Learning so they could continue to grow the school authentically, under a model that was already well aligned to the goals and curriculum of the school.