#89 – Alejandro Gibes de Gac and the Square Pizza Podcast

Written by Gerlea Patton, Communications Fellow

The following is an abbreviated version of an interview between Greg Schermbeck, Founder & Principal of SchermCo & Alejandro Gibes de Gac, CEO & Founder, of Springboard Collaborative. You can listen to the full episode on the Square Pizza Pod ™

  • And where are you coming from today?
    • I am reporting live from California, the Bay area.
  • We recently had Lakeisha Young from Oakland Reach on the podcast, so we’re doing a little West Coast swing now.
    • I just caught up with her at a conference in San Diego.
  • Is anything great happening? Anything from the quarter of 2023 you want to share with the audience?
    • The Massachusetts Department of Education commissioned an external evaluation, and the evaluator found that Springboard is, in their words, “by far the most cost-effective tutoring model worth scaling.”
  • Any other words you want to share besides just that it feels good, given that positive feedback from evaluators?
    • Always a bit of a nail-biter when evaluating something new versus what you’ve done for quite a long time, and breathe a sigh of relief to see the findings.
  • And that’s the FELA model you’re talking about?
    • The FELA model is our core methodology. It powers everything that we do.
  • Can you share more about the origin story with your parents and how that lived experience led you to Springboard?
    • My work stems from my lived experience. I am half Chilean, half Puerto Rican. My parents escaped political persecution in 1973. We moved to New Jersey, rented the cheapest house in a community with a highly-rated public school, and my parents thought that would be the ticket for our kids. That was a formative experience. 
  • And we also have the Teach for America experience in common. So for the people that don’t know, please give the listening audience an overview of what you guys do on a day-to-day basis.
    • Yes, I found Springboard ten years ago with the vision of closing the literacy gap by bridging the gap between home and school. We run programs, typically in summer and after school, that coach parents and teachers to team up and help their kids reach learning goals.
  • What have you guys found that has allowed it to be so successful in the Springboard model?
    • We call the methodology that we use Family Educator Learning Accelerators (FELA). There are five to ten-week cycles during which parents and teachers team up to help kids reach a learning goal.
  • I know it’s not a silver bullet, but curious how you guys go about building that trust to allow everything else to be so successful.
    • Trust was ruptured during school closures, and a lot of parents, just as districts, had an awakening around the critical role that parents play in their kid’s learning; parents, too, had an awakening about their children’s education.
  • I know you spoke about it a moment ago, but can you go deeper on how you’re helping families think about learning recovery post-COVID?
    • There are a zillion kinds of tactics, but there’s only one path: increasing instructional time.
  • Anything you are seeing that’s intriguing to you or interesting as you think about bridging this gap between school and families?
    • I’m more interested in the question of how AI can facilitate person-to-person collaboration versus just person-to-technology collaboration.
  • Any sneak peek on when that tech platform might be live for those interested in checking it out?
    •  Building prototyping and piloting this summer and thinking of it as a minimum lovable product, more so than a minimum viable product by the fall of next year.
  • As you think about scale, what have you learned, and what advice would you give to others thinking about scaling any current operations they have?
    • I think having clarity on the core methodology, what exactly is it that drives impact within our work? That’s foundational because if you’re clear on the core, you can more easily weigh the trade-offs as you scale without risking diluting your impact.
  • But what’s something you guys are working on or that you’re not great at that you want to get better as you guys continue to grow the work?
    • Performance culture is our biggest area of focus right now.
  • What’s one thing the listening audience can do to support you or the work of Springboard?
    • If you’re a school or district leader, reach out so that we can figure out if there’s an alignment between your needs and Springboard’s work.
  • What musical artists are you listening to right now?
    • I’ve been revisiting a lot of Mac Miller.
  • Last question, Alejandro. What does square pizza remind you of?
    • Reminds me of Detroit.

Listen to the full episode on the Square Pizza Pod™, #98 – Alejandro Gibes de Gac, CEO & Founder, of Springboard Collaborative.

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