Organizational Infrastructure Building for the Schott Foundation for Public Education

Green is a color associated with the environment and linked with the idea of growth and renewal. The Tammy Dowley-Blackman Group, LLC Green Case Study Series is designed to introduce the types of projects the team lends its expertise to and share some of the resulting questions, ideas, and lessons with a hope that it prompts exploration, growth, and innovation for other teams.


Supporting Stronger Governance: The TDB Group Approach

Organizations that are built to last start with solid infrastructure. Their strength originates at their core, where a carefully orchestrated combination of professional skills, financial resources, and technological systems all operate in synergy to support their ascent. 

 When functioning well as a unit, an organization’s infrastructure resembles an architectural element known as a truss. As an interlocking frame that anchors a structure from all angles, a truss can be likened to a building’s backbone. This is the metaphor that inspired the Tammy Dowley-Blackman (TDB) Group Truss Framework,™ a proprietary methodology pioneered to help clients identify, acquire, and connect the assets needed to unleash the full potential of their mission.  


Collaboration with the Schott Foundation

The Schott Foundation for Public Education is a national public fund that serves as a bridge between philanthropic partners and advocates for racial equity and equal opportunity in public education. The philanthropy began its transformational work in 1990 as a family foundation.  As the institution evolved, the Schott family realized it could amplify its impact by pivoting from a private to a public foundation a shift that would require it to diversify its funding sources beyond the initial endowment the family had donated. That mandate led the foundation to consider what resources it might need to add internally, at both the board and staff levels, to identify and attract this new breed of financial support.  

It knew where to turn. Tammy Dowley-Blackman Group had consulted with Schott on multiple projects over the years, and Schott Foundation President and CEO, Dr. John Jackson, Ed.D. J.D., said those experiences had convinced him that the firm could play an instrumental role in forecasting and addressing its internal infrastructure needs. 

It didn’t take long for Tammy and her team to prove him right. As someone who has presided as CEO over two nationally affiliated nonprofits, served on the boards of several others, and taught non-profit management at Cambridge College, Tammy has a comprehensive understanding of how organizations are configured for success.  

“One of the things that made Tammy Dowley-Blackman Group the ideal choice is that Tammy Dowley-Blackman understood our starting point,” Dr. Jackson says. “She knows the work, she knows the landscape of philanthropy, and she gets the organizational landscape. Bringing in that knowledge saved a lot of time and resources that we would have had to spend with another consulting partner to acquaint them with who we are.”

Under Tammy’s stewardship, Tammy Dowley-Blackman Group applied its Truss Framework™ approach to strategic planning. It facilitated focused conversations with Schott board members, staff, and external stakeholders to crystallize the foundation’s unique value proposition within its professional arena. That led to a feasibility study and goal setting for a five-year fundraising campaign that was already 60 percent of the way toward full fruition within the first 18 months. The final steps in the almost four-year project included conducting the search and selection process for three new senior team members and new Board of Director members to ensure the skill sets and capacity needed to implement the strategic and fundraising plans were securely in place.

In addition to catapulting Schott’s fundraising success, Dr. Jackson says Tammy and her team generated immense value in more intangible ways, as well. Foremost among them was TDB’s scrupulous use of data to corroborate the rationale behind its strategic advice, an example that helped to reshape the decision-making culture within the organization in the wake of the project.    

“Before this project, we were more apt to make decisions based on our opinions. But now I see a more conscious effort throughout the organization to emphasize data as a means of testing opinions and reaching a consensus around facts on the ground,” Dr. Jackson says, crediting Tammy Dowley-Blackman Group with instilling the importance of this kind of analysis.   

Ultimately, when reflecting on why Tammy Dowley-Blackman Group was the right fit for the Schott Foundation, Dr. Jackson says Tammy and her team distinguish themselves, not just with their proven capabilities, but with their personal chemistry, as well.  

“No one is supposed to enjoy strategic planning as much as I did with Tammy. Her disposition is just a joy, and I think that stems from the commitment she makes to the work that she does.  Tammy has such a commanding knowledge of the information she provides to clients and the steps they should follow to get where they aspire to be. But I’ve worked with a lot of consultants, and even when you get what you’re asking for, it’s not enjoyable. Tammy is not only invariably productive, but it’s just a pleasure.” 


A sample of Tammy Dowley-Blackman Group’s Current and Past Infrastructure Building Advisory Services Engagements include:

  • Artadia
  • Center for Inclusive Computing at Northeastern University
  • Children’s Services of Roxbury
  • City Mission
  • The Eliot School of Fine and Applied Arts
  • Fractured Atlas
  • Haley House
  • Howard Gilman Foundation
  • Joan Mitchell Foundation
  • Media Democracy Fund
  • Project STEP
  • Surdna Foundation
  • The Alliance for Health Equity
  • Village Capital
  • YWCA Cambridge


Case Study completed by Mike Truppa Communications

Tammy Dowley-Blackman Group, LLC is a certified National Supplier Development Council Minority Business Enterprise (MBE), Small Business Administration (SBA) Woman Owned Small Business (WOSB), and Women’s Business Enterprise Network Council (WBENC) woman-owned company. The company is comprised of a suite of brands, including TDB Group Strategic Advisory, a management consulting firm; Looking Forward Lab, a media content company focused on Gen Z, which partners with corporations and higher education systems to offer a full-service learning engagement model that delivers workforce development solutions; and Cooper + Lowe, an incubator for women interested in transitioning to entrepreneurship and thought leadership using the tools of a company that has successfully scaled.

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