Today as I sit here there is a highway into poverty,
there is not even a sidewalk anymore to get out.

— Suze Orman, financial advisor and author

This blog is rooted in the belief that there is no more important challenge in our nation than the reinvention of high-poverty schools. A few decades ago, a high school diploma and hard work earned a sustainable living. Today, the bar is much higher. And the path is steepest for low-income and minority students in high-poverty neighborhoods and schools.

Our focus here is on the positive: on the pioneering educators, parents, schools, and communities forging the next generation of urban education. From Harlem Children’s Zone and Promise Neighborhoods, to _______ and ______, we explore approaches that are augmenting and replacing the traditional school model. Ultimately, we believe success lies in three innovations:

  • Seamless supports – ___________
  • Supported self-learning – _____________
  • Strengths-based skills – ______________


Dave Lash works at the nexus of learning, technology, and product/process design including work in high-poverty K-12 education innovation where he has collaborated with the Stupski Foundation, Education Week, Mass Insight Education, Diplomas Now, and the Knowledge Alliance network of K-12 research organizations.

Mr. Lash is a co-author of The Turnaround Challenge, the influential 2007 research report that presents a new framework for turning around failing high-poverty schools. Over 200,000 copies of the report have been downloaded to date and dozens of state and federal initiatives are currently applying the framework. Building on the Turnaround research, he played a key role (with Grace Belfiore) in the planning, design, and grant writing for Buffalo Promise Neighborhood, a school turnaround and education innovation initiative that recently was awarded a $6 million federal grant (with the top score out of 35 applicants).

In other education sector work, Mr. Lash has helped design and develop online learning products for professional education since 1997 when he led the team that created the first commissioned course for United Technologies. For 15 years, he played a key role in establishing and growing a new Massachusetts independent school serving students from years 3 to 15 in multi-age classrooms.

Dave Lash brings 30 years of experience in designing and implementing new initiatives. The founder of Dave Lash & Company in Hamilton, Massachusetts, he is a facilitator and consultant on strategy and innovation. Clients include businesses and non-profits of all sizes including MIT, Proctor & Gamble, Massachusetts General Hospital, and the Kauffman Foundation. A skilled information designer, Dave brings a highly visual approach to collaboration and strategic thinking. Mr. Lash has a B.S. in Engineering from Tufts University and a M.S. in Civil Engineering from MIT. For more information, visit

Grace Belfiore is an education consultant with senior-level experience in practice-based research, concept and program design and development, writing, communications, and learning materials design.  She is a co-author of The Turnaround Challenge: Why America’s best opportunity to dramatically improve student achievement lies in our worst performing schools. Called “the bible for school turnaround” by Secretary of State Arnie Duncan, it has been downloaded over 200,000 times, has influenced federal Title 1 and Race to the Top policy, and is being used to develop turnaround strategies in dozens of schools, districts and states.

Building on the Turnaround research, Dr. Belfiore played a key role (with Dave Lash) in the planning, design, and grant writing for Buffalo Promise Neighborhood (see above).

Dr. Belfiore’s work on turnaround with Mass Insight Education grew out of involvement in multi-year initiatives on standards-based reform (Building Blocks), and intervention strategies for at-risk high school students (Keep the Promise).  She has worked on a range of efforts to ensure effective education for all students, from next generation learning and assessment (for Stupski Foundation) to analyses of highly resource-effective districts (for Standard & Poor’s School Evaluation Services unit). She has over 20 years of experience in the development and application of educational innovation, including creating an award-winning vocational/educational program for Coca-Cola and Schweppes, and founding a self-paced learning division of a major international publisher in England. She has a B.A. from Harvard College and a D.Phil. in education history from the University of Oxford.

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