Building Stakeholder Investment and Enthusiasm

Overview: Why does stakeholder investment matter?

Tutoring programs rely on diverse groups of stakeholders: not just the students and caregivers the program serves and the tutors, teachers, and administrators who implement it, but also the district superintendents and local government who approve budgets and the other community partners who support the program. If any of these groups are not invested in your program, successful implementation becomes more difficult. To build and maintain investment from stakeholders, you must understand their priorities and be able to explain your program’s Logic Model in the terms that matter most to them. Engaging stakeholders is particularly important when describing the impact of a pilot program and making the case for expansion. This section offers guidance on how to communicate the principles and benefits of High-Impact Tutoring to each stakeholder group.

What are general principles for all stakeholders?

Identify key stakeholders with authority or influence and start with them.

In any stakeholder group, key individuals can be either dealbreakers or ideal promoters depending on their level of buy-in to your program. These key stakeholders are those who have decision-making power (such as a district superintendent or a specific assistant superintendent who oversees all the schools in your pilot program) or who are best positioned to build investment among other stakeholders (such as a network team lead with connections to many school administrators, a teachers union representative or department lead whom fellow teachers respect, or a parent who is active and admired in the local community).

It is important to build investment among these stakeholders first. Work with district-level decision-makers to take the lead on tutoring initiatives, streamline district-wide communications, and bring school administrators on board. Leverage all your key stakeholders’ influence: ask them to advocate for your program with their networks, meet with other stakeholders alongside you, and help you better understand other stakeholders’ perspectives and priorities.

Demonstrate impact with a pilot program.

Conducting a pilot program is an excellent way to build investment (particularly from implementers like tutors, teachers, and administrators), because it lets highly-invested early adopters try out your program and become net promoters among their colleagues. It helps generate grassroots interest by allowing stakeholders to see your program in action. And it enables you to collect data to prove to skeptics that your program model works.

Different data can persuade different people. Quantitative data showing academic growth are often necessary to secure funding, while qualitative data and anecdotes may be necessary to convince implementers that the program can work for them and show them what specific steps will be necessary to achieve positive results. When presenting results, include an expansion plan with a concrete scope of work (like this example from Chicago, IL).

To build enough stakeholder investment to start a pilot program in the first place, share data about the need for tutoring in your district (like this example pilot program pitch from Providence, RI) and data about impact from other districts’ tutoring programs (like this example from Tennessee Tutoring Corps). For information on additional tutoring providers, please see the Tutoring Database.

Maintain stakeholder investment with consistent and customized progress updates.

A burst of initial stakeholder excitement is not enough to sustain a tutoring program. To make adjustments, scale up a pilot to a full-scale program, and keep implementation aligned with your Logic Model, you will need to keep stakeholders informed and invested throughout the school year. To do this, you must provide them with routine updates about the program’s progress. Instead of just recycling the same update content, customize updates for different stakeholders, presenting your progress in terms that speak to each group’s particular priorities whenever possible.

What are best practices for each stakeholder group?

A number of stakeholders are critical to the success and sustainability of a High-Impact Tutoring program. Use the list below to develop a specific plan to secure buy-in and build and sustain enthusiasm for each stakeholder group.

Students and Caregivers


  • Student and caregiver investment in tutoring is critical to ensure student enrollment and attendance.
  • Many tutoring programs have optional resources and structures to help students supplement their in-school studies at home, and caregiver investment is the key to making the most of those additional supports.

Best Practices:

  • Use Asset-Based Framing (language that defines students by their strengths and aspirations before noting challenges). Use positive and asset-based language to describe the benefits and outcomes of tutoring, rather than framing tutoring as remediation to correct a deficiency in the student. Asset-based framing will correct misconceptions about tutoring that may otherwise have negatively impacted support and attendance.
  • Understand and Address Needs and Concerns. Regularly assess needs and concerns through surveys or other communications systems and use that information to inform program operations and communications with students and caregivers.
  • Involve Caregivers in Program Design. Solicit input directly from caregivers both during initial design and throughout the program through surveys and interviews and use that input to design the program to meet caregiver needs. Recognize that caregivers’ time is valuable and offer incentives for participation when possible.
  • Involve Students in Tutor Selection. If you are fortunate enough to have more candidates for your tutoring program than open positions, consider involving students in the tutor selection process to build student support. By allowing students to participate in demonstration lessons with potential tutor candidates once prospective tutors have cleared most of the hurdles in the selection process, students can provide feedback to those making final selection decisions.
  • Hold Early Info Sessions. Directly communicate the following parameters of the tutoring program in order to increase caregiver investment and decrease stigma:
    • How the tutoring program will benefit and impact their child. Frame tutoring as an additional resource, rather than a response to any perceived educational failures on the teachers’, school’s, or caregivers’ part.
    • How students are selected. Focus on the benefits of High-Impact Tutoring to decrease the stigma often associated with tutoring.
    • How the tutoring program is connected to existing systems or technology. Be explicit about how the new tutoring program is linked to or part of something with which the student is already familiar, such as interventional technology programs or an Advisory period.
    • Provide Regular Updates on Student Progress. Clearly communicate the progress students make to maintain investment from caregivers and attendance from students. Read more about using regular communication to boost enrollment and attendance here.

Implementers: Tutors, Teachers, and School Administrators


  • Tutoring cannot succeed if the tutors leading sessions are not invested in their day-to-day work.
  • Teachers and tutors are the primary drivers of students’ day-to-day school experience, and their level of enthusiasm and excitement about tutoring will set the tone for how students perceive the program.
  • Teacher and administrator investment is necessary to embed tutoring in a school’s culture. Instead of imposing a tutoring program on a school, building investment in the key principles and benefits of High-Impact Tutoring during the design phase will build buy-in for your model and increase support when logistical issues arise.
  • Administrators need to commit significant time and effort to support tutoring throughout the year: making classroom space available, fitting tutoring into the schedule, and collaborating with tutors. The level of investment they make shows students and tutors how seriously the school takes the program.

Best Practices:

  • Involve Implementers in Program Design. Include (and prioritize input from) highly effective and respected classroom teachers and school administrators in your program design. The earlier implementers can be involved, the more opportunities you will have to get their buy-in.
  • Hold Early Info Sessions. Connect early with schools, so that administrators and teachers can ask tough questions and work with tutoring programs or each other to find satisfactory answers before the program starts, so that everyone will be on the same page when explaining the program to students. Hold open meetings during planning to solicit implementer input and adjust accordingly.
  • Strongly consider a Pilot School Opt-In Model. Before scaling up, consider starting a pilot program with an opt-in option for schools to find early adopters among administrators. Place the financial burden for the pilot on the district, as administrators will be more likely to try out a tutoring program if they do not have to worry about initial funding. Pilot programs allow for adjustments to be made more easily and will create early ambassadors for the scaling phase.
  • Use Asset-Based Framing. Explicitly include asset-based language around implementers, especially teachers, in your program’s messaging. The tutoring programs should be framed as a resource that builds on and supports high-quality instruction from teachers, not a replacement for Tier I instruction or a reflection of perceived failures or inadequacies in classroom instruction.
  • Clarify Roles and Ensure Compensation for Extra Duties. Ensure that all implementers are clear on their specific role. Particularly for teachers, setting the expectations for how they will engage with tutors and what tutors will need from them (e.g., gradebook data to help differentiate tutoring session content and target specific unmastered standards for each student) is important. Ensure that teachers are fairly compensated for extra duties outside of their role.

Labor Unions


  • Up-front buy-in from labor unions prevents misunderstandings about teacher and school staff responsibilities, both with the union leadership and with teachers and school staff themselves.
  • Union buy-in is often a critical prerequisite for getting buy-in from your more skeptical teachers, and existing union communication structures with teachers and school staff can help keep messaging clear.

Best Practices:

  • Provide Clear and Consistent Messaging that Tutors Will Support Teachers, Not Replace Them. Demonstrate how the tutoring program supports current teachers’ needs and expands school and teacher capacity.
    • Clearly delineate the distinctions between teacher and tutor roles to emphasize that tutors’ responsibilities are designed to support teachers, not to be a substitute for critical core instruction. See the Reading Corps tutor job description (page 5) for a good example of delineating roles to distinguish tutors’ responsibilities from those of classroom teachers.
    • Highlight how effective tutoring programs can be career pipelines for future educators, leading tutors to become union members. (Note that some programs, like those that rely on AmeriCorps service members as tutors, have policies against union membership until after this service is completed.)
  • Make Shifts in Teacher Roles Transparent. Be clear about what level of collaboration with tutors will be required from teachers and should communicate the teacher role in the tutoring program. It may be necessary to spend time early in the process of establishing a tutoring program with unions to understand existing collective bargaining agreements and establish clarity on how teachers will be compensated for any additional work. Districts and schools should check in regularly throughout the year to ensure the accuracy of the shifted teacher role descriptions and make adjustments if necessary.
  • Use Asset-Based Framing. Focus on what tutors are uniquely positioned to do. For example, some jurisdictions legally prevent teachers from giving one-on-one instruction, but tutors can take this role. In general, tutors should be framed as a resource to support teachers.
  • Share Transparent Budgets. To build trust with the union, share information about tutoring funding sources. If teacher budget cuts occurred during the time frame of the new tutoring program, share why, and distinguish between that funding stream and the separate tutoring funds. Emphasize that teachers and ensuring high-quality Tier I core instruction was prioritized before designing interventions or tutoring programs.
  • Hold Inclusive Meetings. At school-level meetings, include a representative from the teachers union (and any other relevant unions, such as the paraprofessionals union) alongside school administrators and tutoring program staff. This inclusivity presents a united front to all teachers and provides opportunities to ask questions with everyone present.

Superintendents and Boards of Education


  • These stakeholders approve your program’s funding, so you need their support to start your program.
  • Getting support from these stakeholders can be a challenge, as tutoring programs may be more costly than other less effective interventions.
  • A well-placed ally in this group can be a great asset, helping you find key district staff to bring on board.

Best Practices:

  • Share Evidence of Return on Investment. Share clear quantitative data (supplemented with qualitative anecdotal data from a pilot program, if possible) on a regular basis to illustrate the tutoring program’s impact.
  • Clarify Alignment with District Needs. Be explicit about how your program aligns with district-wide priorities, integrates into district-wide strategies, and addresses a specific district-wide need to make it easy for superintendents and school board members to support your program.
  • Develop a Diverse Set of Supporters. Develop multiple allies amongst school board members and superintendent office leadership to protect your tutoring program from changes in leadership.

Community Partners


  • Getting buy-in from local high schools, universities, or other aligned educational programs can streamline tutor recruitment and retention by giving you access to a large pool of potential tutors.

Best Practices:

  • Coordinate Schedules. Align the times tutors will be most needed with the times tutors will be most available by involving partners when establishing the schedule.
  • Focus on Educator Pipelines. Help expand and diversify local teacher pipelines by partnering with local colleges and universities to provide tutors for your program. High-Impact Tutoring programs provide hands-on training and exposure to the education field for their tutors, who may not have previously considered careers in education. This exposure to the education field may open up opportunities for intentional career development among local young adults.

Local Governments


  • These stakeholders can be key allies when securing funding, particularly long-term sustainable funding.

Best Practices:

  • Align with Local Government Initiatives. Advocate for tutoring initiatives to be included as a part of a governmental official’s plan. When tutoring is an articulated priority in a plan, it may be easier to access a consistent and reliable source of funding, and to build a sense of community investment to help sustain the initiative in the long run.