Strategy firm Bain & Company will provide pro bono consulting to the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) in order to help the second largest public school district in the US adapt to consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Bain will specifically work with the school district to evaluate and implement a transition to remote, online learning. The pro bono work is part of a firm-wide commitment to donate $1 billion in consulting services to social impact initiatives by 2025.
The LAUSD has nearly 700,000 K-12 students, with more than 80% of students coming from families living in poverty. Many of these families have been especially affected by the economic consequences of Covid-19, as low-wage workers have been the likeliest to lose their jobs.
“Our efforts to transition a large, complex school system to online learning have been compared to the challenge of landing a man on the moon,” said Austin Beutner, LAUSD superintendent. “Bain provides advice to some of the most sophisticated businesses and institutions around the world and we’re fortunate to have them help us think through the challenges we are facing.”
Beutner, who had a successful career in investment banking before transitioning to public sector-facing and philanthropic endeavors, asked Bain for support as part of the school district’s overall effort to manage through the pandemic crisis.
The consulting firm will select remote learning solutions that have a “tangible impact, are fiscally responsible and can be implemented quickly,” according to a press release from the firm. Bain will then design a plan of action for the school district to consider.
“We are excited to work with Superintendent Beutner and the Los Angeles Unified team to help respond to the operating, learning, and teaching challenges during and after this unprecedented period,” Abigail Smith, education practice partner at Bain, said. “At Bain we are committed to investing in high impact education initiatives on a pro bono basis, both in normal times and times of crisis.”
Aside from the operational challenge of social distancing and the consequent need for remote learning infrastructure, the LAUSD is also facing pressure from the state’s budget crisis. Furthermore, the school district is a major provider of free and subsidized food to its largely impoverished student population – a role that cannot be easily fulfilled with schools shut down. In 2018-2019, it served 129 million meals, with nearly 80% qualifying for free or reduced prices.