BCG Wins Award for Work on Early Childhood Education in Dallas

Award for Excellence in Social & Community Investment Recognizes the Firm’s Efforts to Partner with the Dallas Public Schools in Improving School Readiness

DALLAS—The Boston Consulting Group (BCG) has received an award from Consulting magazine, the industry’s leading trade publication, for the firm’s efforts to expand the reach of early childhood education programs in the greater Dallas area and improve their effectiveness.

BCG won an Excellence in Social & Community Investment Award for its work with three nonprofit organizations—the Dallas Independent School District (DISD), the Commit! Partnership, and Early Matters Dallas. BCG was one of 18 consultancies honored, along with their clients, at a gala awards dinner last night at the University Club in midtown Manhattan.

The awards—now in their third year—recognize “outstanding client service, either on a pro bono, heavily discounted, or volunteer basis in either local communities or globally,” said Joe Kornik, publisher and editor in chief of Consulting. “We’re honored to shine a spotlight on these firms’ altruistic efforts.”

BCG’s collaboration with the DISD and Commit!—a coalition of stakeholders focused on improving educational outcomes for Dallas County students “from cradle to career”—began three years ago as a pro bono project to help the nonprofits develop early childhood education strategies to improve school readiness.

Educators knew at the outset that six out of every ten kids in the district were deemed not ready for kindergarten. They also knew that 90% of a child’s brain development happens by the time he or she is five years old and that any educational intervention after age five, particularly in the case of at-risk kids, is more difficult, more expensive, and less effective than earlier interventions.

BCG helped DISD develop a strategy to maximize the number of kindergarten-ready children. The strategy called for a four-pronged approach: increasing access to pre-K for three- and four-year-olds; boosting parental interest in pre-K; improving pre-K quality; and extending the continuum of care from birth to third grade.

The early results have been promising, with substantial progress on both access rates and quality:

  • DISD students deemed kindergarten-ready climbed from 38% in 2013 to 51% in 2015—a 13 percentage point increase in less than two years.
  • Student enrollment in pre-K rose from around 9,500 children in 2013 to 10,600 in 2015, a more than 10% increase.

Such gains bode well for the future, as kindergarten-ready children are three times more literate by third grade than those who are not, according to DISD research.
“I couldn’t be more appreciative of the work that BCG did to help support our kids,” Alan Cohen, who recently joined Commit! and is the DISD’s former assistant superintendent of early childhood education, told the dinner audience Thursday. “What BCG brought was the capacity to build an unbelievably robust fact base and then use that fact base to help us craft a strategy. That strategy has led to unbelievable results for our kids.”

“And our work continues,” he added, "thanks not only to BCG’s commitment to being a great partner for the school district and for the community, but also quite frankly because they are of shared mind and shared values.”

BCG is now in the middle of a new, multiyear collaboration with the DISD to support the implementation of the strategy. Early Matters Dallas, a coalition of business, civic, and other nonprofit organizations, is helping to coordinate and fund efforts to ensure that the strategy is executed successfully.

BCG’s current work, a deeply discounted engagement, involves providing analysis and advice to DISD leadership on key infrastructure and systems changes to ensure sustainable, long-term success. The team is focused on pinpointing important drivers of success and improving operational processes, helping the district concentrate on its highest-impact activities.

What’s more, BCG is continuing its partnership with the broader Dallas community to improve early learning for all children. In early November, BCG will join forces with The Dallas Foundation and Early Matters Dallas to cohost a two-day event in Dallas on early childhood education. Districts and city teams from across the country will come together with thought leaders and philanthropists to share success stories for driving impact at each stage of development from birth to third grade.

“This collaborative effort has been a true highlight of my 27-year career at BCG,” said J. Puckett, a Dallas-based senior partner who serves as global leader of the firm’s Education practice. “The Dallas community has rallied behind the importance of giving our youngest children the strong start they deserve. I look forward to many years of continued partnership that will drive even more impact over time.”

BCG Wins Award for Work on Early Childhood Education in Dallas

BCG's J. Puckett is flanked by clients Alan Cohen of Commit! and Regen Fearon of Early Matters Dallas after receiving a Consulting magazine Social & Community Investment Award for the firm's work on early childhood education in Dallas.

This is the third consecutive year that BCG has been honored by Consulting for its social-impact efforts. In 2014, the firm won for its pro bono work with Save the Children, and last year, the magazine recognized its pro bono support of the United Nations in fighting the Ebola outbreak.

Coverage of the winning firms, their clients, and the gala dinner will appear in the magazine’s October issue ( Consulting is published by ALM, a global leader in specialized industry news and information.

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