Concord, MA

Client Challenge

A leading co-ed school for grades 9-12 outside of Boston, Concord Academy faced increasing competition in both its boarding and day markets, and also sought to strengthen alumni support. In particular, school leaders suspected that outdated perceptions of Concord were hampering its recruitment and fundraising efforts. The school engaged Art & Science Group to study multiple constituencies and to recommend adjustments to recruitment, advancement and communication strategies.

Our Approach

A&S fielded a quantitative survey with families who had inquired but decided not to apply to Concord Academy and conducted qualitative interviews with families of students who were admitted but chose not to enroll, influencers of school choice in the area, alumni and donors.

“When we first interviewed possible consultants, we talked to a lot of different groups. We were impressed with Art & Science Group because we felt like they really listened and tried to understand our school. They also asked a lot of good questions. In a community like ours, intellectual heft is important. If our community felt like they were marketers and not thinkers, you would hear the click of a switch going off.”
– Richard Hardy, Head of School

The Results

Rooted in a positioning strategy that embraces the school’s distinctive culture, while countering outdated stereotypes, Concord Academy has achieved remarkable results on all fronts. Highlights include:

  • Revamped admissions processes and materials
  • Increased engagement of faculty and staff in representing the school authentically
  • School-wide willingness to assert more strongly the school’s value proposition
  • Steady rise in number of applications
  • Three record-setting years in annual giving

Our ongoing collaboration with the school included assistance with institutional strategy-setting, and most recently, A&S completed a fundraising feasibility study. Campaign objectives aligned with the new positioning strategy have inspired significant lead gifts and widespread donor enthusiasm.

“The research findings were sobering and eye-opening. One of the things we learned was that we were unintentionally projecting messages that were completely counter to who we are as a school community. We were losing opportunities to connect with families and to tell our story most effectively.”
– Richard Hardy, Head of School