Strategy + Planning: Studio In A School

The Challenge

Since 1977, Studio in a School has provided quality visual arts education to Title 1 schools in New York City.  It aims to foster the creative and intellectual development of New York City youth through quality visual arts programs directed by arts professionals who have acted as creative role models for nearly 1 million school children – most from low-income families. In 2015, Studio in a School decided to expand its scope by creating the Studio Institute to disseminate its approach to cities and audiences outside of New York City, while offering internship programs for teens and college students, and researching and creating new models in New York City. The Board believed that accomplishing this would require that the current, visionary leadership transition to the “bigger picture” work while identifying a new, highly-qualified leader to ensure the continued excellence of Studio’s effective NYC public schools’ programs. They realized they needed outside help to do this.

What We Did

We partnered with Studio in a School in planning an optimal organizational structure. We started work on this engagement by helping Studio in a School to define its desired future direction, which included mission and program strategy for the two programs, followed by outlining the organizational implications of that change, which were organizational structure, required resources, and fundraising needs. Finally, CRE helped Studio’s Board and leadership prepare for implementation, including developing recruitment and communications strategies. It was important to achieve full Board buy in to any decisions and have a plan for explaining the decisions to stakeholders.


Our work with Studio resulted in alignment of the high-level vision going forward. The Board and senior leadership arrived at a clear view of – and plan for – what is desired for Studio in a School’s current and future leadership and shared agreement about what’s needed to get there. Together we developed a description of the new organization(s), which allowed the Board and senior leadership to ensure proper governance and to explain the change and transition to present and future stakeholders as well as other third parties. Following the plan’s approval Studio in a School were also able to identify and select an Executive Director for the NYC public schools program.

“The Community Resource Exchange staff are skilled planners. Through productive and engaging meetings, we were able to make a myriad of decisions about our restructuring. CRE’s planning, research, and communication allowed us to focus on important issues that ultimately led to a plan with full board consensus.”

- Thomas Cahill, President, Studio in a School Association

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