We Work to Shine a Light on Inequity and Find Contemporary Solutions in an Ever-Changing World

HCM Strategists is dedicated to improving achievement for all students, but especially low-income students and students of color who continue to be underserved by the education system.

Our diverse team is tackling some of the most challenging issues in education. We remain committed to finding new solutions to old problems, from accountability and assessment to reporting and parent engagement. As the world reels with the impacts of a global pandemic, we remain dedicated to finding innovative solutions to new challenges, such as remote learning and closing the digital divide.

We believe the most effective strategies require partnering with states and districts and listening carefully to the students, parents and teachers impacted by the education system.


We are effective because we do not believe in silver bullets, but rather all assets working in combination toward a shared goal. Our team represents a diverse set of skills and talents with decades of experience and our network allows us to tap into great minds when there is a gap. Click on each section of the wheel to learn more.

  • Communications 
    + Develop overarching strategic communications plans.
    + Craft narratives, key messages and ways to differentiate messaging in order to achieve a desired outcome.
    + Work with communications leaders across the education space to build messages across important subject areas.
  • Strategy
    + Partner with clients on the development of their short and long term strategies.
    + Proactively identify opportunities for client engagement that will support and further their work.
    + Develop risk assessments against existing strategies to better understand how external factors could impede success.
  • Policy 
    + Develop stakeholder engagement campaigns to engage target audiences in shaping policy decisions.
    + Regularly conduct landscapes of state education activity on key policy issues.
    + Provide technical assistance to states, and assist in the development and assessment of their accountability plans.
  • Research 
    + Use qualitative and quantitative research to understand how to effectively communicate to stakeholders and to create evidence-based communication materials.
    + Use qualitative and quantitative research to explore how various policies are viewed across states, party lines and among different groups of stakeholders.
    + Maintain an extensive portfolio of research on stakeholder mindsets and perceptions of policy issues.
  • Advocacy
    + Translate complex policies for parents, teachers, policymakers and other key education stakeholders.
    + Develop tools and resources to advance client priorities.
    + Work with state education leaders to help identify both local and national trends and best practices.
    + Work with teacher organizations to ensure educators are supported and their voices are heard.
  • Coalition Building 
    + Identify appropriate and effective partners to engage in client campaigns.
    + Collaborate with a diverse set of organizations to amplify state voices and concerns regarding education issues in their state.


We Partner with those Who Share a Common Belief

The organizations, teachers and partners that we work with are driven by the reality that as many as two thirds of all students are not on grade level in any given grade. They share the belief that high academic standards, quality aligned assessments and accessible data systems are central to closing the achievement gap.

We are proud to work alongside organizations who are passionate about making a difference and closing those gaps for students.

  • Charter School Growth Fund

    Every child deserves a high-quality education. The Charter School Growth Fund identifies the country’s best public charter schools, funds their growth, and helps to increase their impact.

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  • Circle of Service Foundation

    Circle of Service Foundation is a private foundation that makes grants to support great organizations to enhance community, opportunity and well-being.

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  • Collaborative for Student Success

    The Collaborative for Student Success is a non-profit advocacy organization that works to defend high standards, high-quality assessments, and strong systems of accountability, to ensure that all kids are prepared for college or career. Through capacity-building efforts with in-state organizations and collaboration with national partners, we promote fact-based public discourse and fight to advance policies that promote best practices and ensure equitable outcomes for all students.

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  • Educate Texas

    Educate Texas, an educational initiative of Communities Foundation of Texas, is the trusted change agent to strengthen Texas public and higher education. For more than a decade, we have worked side by side with our partners to empower students to realize their dreams and fuel a thriving Texas.

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  • George W. Bush Institute

    The George W. Bush Institute, founded by President and Mrs. Bush in 2009, is a public policy center in Dallas with the mission of advancing freedom by expanding opportunities for individuals at home and across the globe. Built on principles that guided the Bushes in public life, the Bush Institute uses leading research to develop and implement policies that offer practical solutions to pressing problems in the United States and abroad.

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  • JerseyCAN

    JerseyCAN advocates for all students across the state to have access to excellent schools. Our goal is to ensure that every student in New Jersey graduates from high school ready to enroll and succeed in college and their career.
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  • Learning Heroes

    Learning Heroes helps answer your questions: about homework, what your child is expected to learn each year, ways you can support your child’s emotional health and happiness, planning for college, and more. Their mission is to inspire and equip parents as Learning Heroes, so every child can succeed. They connect you to useful information and simple actions you can take to help your child thrive in school and life. Their team helps you understand how to best support your child’s education and connect you to resources from some of the nation’s most trusted experts and organizations such as the National PTA, Scholastic, Common Sense Media, GreatSchools, Univision, and more.

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  • Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education

    The goal of the Massachusetts public K-12 and adult education system is to prepare all students for success in life.

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  • National Parent Teacher Association

    National PTA® comprises millions of families, students, teachers, administrators, and business and community leaders devoted to the educational success of children and the promotion of family engagement in schools. The PTA’s mission is to make every child’s potential a reality by engaging and empowering families and communities to advocate for all children. The PTA’s values are collaboration, commitment, diversity, respect and accountability.

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  • Public Agenda

    Public Agenda is a nonpartisan research and public engagement organization dedicated to strengthening democracy and expanding opportunity for all Americans.

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  • SAS

    SAS is a trusted analytics powerhouse for organizations seeking immediate value from their data. Through innovative software and services, SAS empowers and inspires customers around the world to transform data into intelligence. Their bench of analytics solutions and broad industry knowledge keep our customers coming back and feeling confident. With SAS, you can discover insights from your data and make sense of it all, identify what’s working and fix what isn’t, make more intelligent decisions and drive relevant change.

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  • Smarter Balanced

    Smarter Balanced is the result of state education agency staff, teachers, higher education faculty, and other educators working together to create a “best of the best” assessment system with the ultimate goal of increasing the number of students who are well prepared for college and careers. This effort began with the recognition that most assessment systems were disjointed, outdated, and did not offer a cohesive set of tools to help educators improve teaching and learning.

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  • Texas Education Agency

    The Texas Education Agency is the state agency that oversees primary and secondary public education. It is headed by the commissioner of education. The Texas Education Agency improves outcomes for all public school students in the state by providing leadership, guidance, and support to school systems.

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  • U.S. Chamber of Commerce

    The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation is dedicated to strengthening America’s long-term competitiveness and educating the public on how our free enterprise system improves society and the economy. The Foundation conducts research and produces events on issues facing business now and in the future. Through its initiatives, the Foundation builds skills, drives innovation, and encourages growth.

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  • We Raise New Jersey

    WRNJ is a diverse coalition of New Jersey organizations and associations that are united in our belief that New Jersey students need and deserve a world-class education to effectively compete and succeed in our rapidly changing world. Our coalition organizes the power of each member organization into a collective voice to advocate for high quality academic standards and aligned assessments, and to ensure that every child is prepared for college, career, and active citizenship in our communities.

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Case Studies
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  • Partnering with Learning Heroes to Create School Report Cards That Meet Parents Where They Are With Information They Can Use

    HCM has been privileged to work for and partner with Learning Heroes on an unprecedented body of research for the past three years on parent mindsets and education. Learning Heroes is a leading non-profit focused on equipping parents to support their child’s success in school and supporting state education agencies, school districts and advocacy organizations in meeting parents where they are. Our research consistently shows a gaping disconnect between parents’ perception of their children’s academic performance and actual student achievement — with 90% believing their child is performing at or above grade level as opposed to the 38% proficiency identified by NAEP. This disconnect is partially due to lack of access to information parents want and need to be effective educational advocates for their children.

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  • K-12 ESSA Plans: Deep Diving into State K-12 Accountability Systems

    Recent years have brought significant change to our nation’s public school systems, as many states have adopted and revised new standards and assessments, teacher evaluation systems, data systems and methods for addressing low-performing schools. Policy interpretation and implementation churned leading up to and during the transition from the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB)—the federal law that governed K-12 schools for well over a decade—to the newly enacted Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).

    + Full Case Study


+ View all K-12
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