Strategic Plan 2019-2024: From Start-Up to Sustainability

About seven years ago, Beacon Academy’s founding Board of Trustees coalesced around a project to reimagine secondary education. The vision was a Montessori/International Baccalaureate high school based on the latest adolescent development research, that would one day be a model for other independent non-profit high schools. Today, Beacon Academy offers a dynamic and experiential educational program, where our students take charge of their own learning in and out of the classroom under the guidance of experienced and outstanding faculty.
Beacon Academy offers an innovative and challenging education based on Montessori principles that places a priority on experiential learning, entrepreneurial thinking, and in-depth interdisciplinary studies. Beacon students will master the skills, knowledge, and habits of mind necessary to meaningfully contribute to a complex and diverse world with compassion and confidence.
Mission and Values Inclusion Mission and Values Innovation Mission and Values Independence Mission and Values Interdependence
We strive for a student body that is diverse and inclusive, respectful of all members of its immediate and global communities, empathetic and eager to be socially responsible. The Beacon Academy academic program is designed to be challenging, rigorous, engaging and creative. Students are expected to go beyond comprehension, to think out of the box and to incorporate learning from multiple disciplines and sources of information and inspiration. Students at Beacon Academy are encouraged to think and act independently, to be active architects of their own education, to push the boundaries of conventional wisdom, and to do so respectfully and responsibly. At Beacon Academy students are expected to reach outside of the traditional classroom to connect with experts in the community and to collaborate with students, teachers and researchers across the globe. It is a community school in the strongest sense, with partnerships across the educational spectrum.
Through its first strategic planning process, Beacon Academy recognized that although it has achieved great success and exciting levels of growth in its first five years, it is still building toward its original vision. That is why the strategic plan reaffirms and recommits to its existing mission and set of core values. Reaffirming its vision also means that Beacon Academy commits to staying in its current Evanston location and sustaining its current size, allowing growth as it fits within our physical space and as it retains the culture of the school.
INNOVATION: As we work to re-imagine secondary education, we will continue to evolve the Beacon Academy model by solidifying and articulating the academic curriculum and establishing a clearly articulated experiential program.
  • Evolve and articulate the curriculum and experiential program:
    • While allowing for continual innovation, staff leadership will establish more clearly stated content, scope and sequence of academic frameworks, and offer more transparent expectations of students and faculty
    • Work will be conducted to ensure Montessori and IB elements are synthesized into a single model with clear pathways/choices, while helping to define what it means to be a Montessori high school
    • Develop a rigorous and meaningful experiential program that engages students interested in a wide range of professions as well as community service, outdoors, and other endeavors
INCLUSION: We will take concrete steps to further operationalize equity and inclusion and enhance compensation packages for faculty and staff to continue attracting and retaining top talent.
  • Operationalize equity and inclusion:
    • Target 15% gross tuition revenue as tuition assistance, and maintain funding for “supplemental support”
    • Strengthen how the curriculum incorporates and teaches equity and inclusion, and enhance recruitment and hiring efforts to bring in faculty members of color
    • Explore options for professional trainers and/or SEED training for faculty/staff, parents, and students, to embed inclusion principles and values in the community at large, while balancing existing financial commitments
    • Prioritize enhanced compensation packages for faculty and staff
INDEPENDENCE: We will sustain our vision by taking concrete steps to ensure Beacon Academy has a long-term plan to remain on strong financial footing and plan for its future.
  • Build a Sustainability Fund worth 50% of the annual operating budget:
    • Build upon existing savings
    • Designate funds toward the Sustainability Fund in each annual operating budget
    • Pursue additional philanthropic gifts to support the Sustainability Fund
  • Increase tuition to the level where net tuition revenue is approximately 96-98% of operating expenses. Tuition should remain at this level at least until the school has built a Sustainability Fund with an amount equal to six months of operating expenses
  • Ensure that Beacon Academy’s financial commitments are considered as we evaluate new opportunities, such as an auxiliary space
INTERDEPENDENCE: We will continue to serve as a pioneer and thought leader by externally sharing Beacon Academy’s model and philosophy, and we will establish spaces that enhance Beacon Academy’s presence in the Evanston community, allowing the school to participate in Evanston community life.
  • Establish spaces that enhance Beacon Academy’s presence in the Evanston community and allow the school’s members to participate in Evanston community life
  • Explore options for an auxiliary space that:
    • Offers a performing arts space
    • Provides extra classroom space
    • Is realistic about ongoing operational costs and maintains financial sustainability priorities
  • Seek opportunities to document key components of the Beacon model and quantitatively and qualitatively track progress to define success. Identify opportunities to articulate the Beacon Academy model to a variety of external audiences, including via new and continued partnerships within the community