Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
Intermediary for Scale

Supporting transformation by providing guidance and resources for adopting, implementing, evaluating, and sustaining changes in policy and practice at TCUs.

Institutional Transformation in TCUs

Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation supports intermediary for Scale (IfS). The IfS strategy is a plan to help institutional transformation at scale to build organization capacity for scale intermediaries. AIHEC will support multiple TCUs to undergo an institutional change.  AIHEC is among the 12 selected intermediaries for scale who are spending time building the organizational capacity required to support institutional transformation at scale. To become more student-centered, AIHEC and its partners will provide connections and guidance to TCUs. The intermediaries for scale will support institutional transformations through (1) overseeing strategy and operations for their organization and the network; (2) building awareness and influencing decisions related to institutional transformation; (3) using data to aggregate demand for and high-quality broker supports required to speed transformation; and (4) ensuring the health and connectivity of their networks – all with a cross-cutting emphasis on (5) continuous improvement across the ecosystem and (6) a focus on equity.

Primary outcome(s) or result(s)

The grant will build capacity across four key areas:

  1. Increasing awareness of successful and promising transformation strategies among campus leaders and communities.
  2. Informing key campus-level decisions about change options and strategies and supporting decision-makers.
  3. Supporting transformation by providing guidance and resources for adopting, implementing, evaluating, and sustaining changes in policy and practice.
  4. Building connections across colleges and universities and other supporting organizations to accelerate and streamline learning and sharing of promising practices.

AIHEC’s theory of change is visualized in a diagram and articulated in our project’s name, Ċangleṡka, the Lakota word for circle. To the Lakota, ċangleṡka represents family, community, nation, and universe; it is connection, unity, coming together and providing protection, strength, and harmony.

POSTSECONDARY SUCCESS (Gatefoundation.org) ->

Intermediary for Scale (IfS) – The Process

Theory of Change

AIHEC visualized the theory of change in a diagram, articulating in our project’s name, Ċangleṡka, the Lakota word for circle. To the Lakota, ċangleṡka represents family, community, nation, and universe; it is connection, unity, coming together and providing protection, strength, and harmony. It is order out of chaos. It is the interrelatedness of all things. Family and community – relationships established and maintained – are the grounding focus for a set of interconnected circles that compose the Ċangleṡka initiative. The students belong at the center of the circle, representing the core of the initiative. A ring of relationships and holistic evidence-based services and programs provided by the faculty and staff at the TCUs, AN/NHSIs, and NASNTIs directly support the student center. Next is the sphere of relationships among their colleagues/peers at these institutions who share knowledge about their instructional, supportive, and administrative practices. Peers and colleagues mentor one another and work closely with AIHEC (the next circle moving outward) to adapt non-Native evidence-based strategies to fit the Native worldview. Finally, there is the broader rings of subject matter experts and service providers whose products are adapted and who might serve as mentors and trainers to professional and administrative staff and faculty at the group of institutions that are collaborating to address specific student success issues. Located between the institutions and service providers, AIHEC serves as the coordinating, facilitating, adapting, and supporting partner – working both with the service providers and the institutions to adapt, implement, monitor, and continuously improve services for the students at the center.

Change through the Native communities of practice will occur at four levels:

Personal: individual faculty, staff and administrators will understand and appreciate the importance of relevant data and information in determining the effectiveness of an educational or support activity; they will work together to adapt, test, and continuously improve evidence- based practices; and they will commit to scaling these test practices by serving as mentors for others.

    1. Interpersonal: interactions and relational habits between students and faculty/staff and among faculty and staff at participating institutions, to the extent that they are factors in student performance, will change in ways that facilitate student
    2. Group/community: group/social problem-solving within individual institutions and across participating institutions (driven by high quality data and information) will lead to improvements in student success-relevant
    3. Institutional structures/policies: policies will be established at participating institutions that encourage and support identification and adoption of promising practices and modification or elimination of ineffective or counterproductive policies and procedure

The Intermediary Capability Assessment (ICA)

The IFS process requires AIHEC to assess its capacity for this role the Institution Capability Assessment (ICA). The ICA references a set of activities that provides data that assess the status of intermediary capabilities and measure the progress of intermediaries in building their capabilities.

The ICA Framework outlines the capabilities needed to effectively support institutions through the transformational change process and to engage partners across the BMGF postsecondary ecosystem in support of transformation. The Framework: is an adaptation of the framework BMGF uses across its U.S. Programs for investments which utilize intermediaries.

The ICA Self-Assessment provides:

Together, this information:

Institutional Transformation Assessment (ITA)

The ITA is based on the rubrics for each topic listed below. With the help of a multidisciplinary team focused on user experience and design, the ITA has been tested in hundreds of two- and four-year institutions. Rounds of testing and feedback informed refinements to the structure and design of the ITA. There are 11 topics, divided into three sections. Each topic consists of an expert-created rubric.


Information Technology (IT): The institution’s ability to provide institutional leadership, faculty, and advisors with tools and information they need to contribute to student success and develop and monitor meaningful student success initiatives.

Institutional Policy: The institution’s ability to change institutional policies, processes, and procedures to support, sustain, and institutionalize efforts to improve student success and close equity gaps.

Institutional Research (IR): The institution’s ability to use inquiry, action research, data, and analytics to intentionally inform operational, tactical, and strategic accomplishment of an institution’s student success mission. The function—occurring inside and outside an institutional research office—provides timely, accurate, and actionable decision support to administrators, faculty, staff, students, and other stakeholders.

Leadership & Culture: The institution’s ability to develop and lead the execution of a strategic agenda focused on student success.

State Policy: The institution’s ability to leverage existing state policies or develop and/or advocate for new evidence-based state policies (which could include, depending on the local context, legislative policies, board policies, rules, and/or guidance documents) to support efforts to achieve equitable student success at scale.

Strategic Finance: The institution’s ability regarding the strategic and effective allocation and management of resources in support of the institution’s vision, mission, goals, and priority initiatives.


Advising: The institution’s focus on assessing and improving advising and student support services by leveraging people, processes, and technology; connecting advising and planning; and creating student services that are proactive, structured, personalized, and sustained.

Developmental Education: The institution’s capacity for comprehensive and integrated approaches for expediting students’ progression through developmental education to gateway, college-level course completion.

Digital Learning: The institution’s focus on assessing the implementation of digital technologies and content for augmenting instruction to promote learning personalization, engagement, feedback, and outcomes.

Emergency Aid: The institution’s ability to build and sustain an emergency aid program that provides timely grants, loans, and/or basic needs support to students facing an unexpected financial crisis.


2-Year Pathways: The institution’s ability to systematically define student pathways, map pathways to student end goals, help students choose a pathway, keep students on a pathway, and ensure that students are learning.

4-Year Pathways: The institution’s ability to systematically define student pathways, map pathways to student end goals, help students choose a pathway, keep students on a pathway, and ensure students are learning.

IFS Committees/ Working Groups

The IFS (Intermediaries for Scale) is comprised of several working groups and committees supporting the set of development goals that are outlined in this section. Take a peak at the various efforts provided by the links below.

IFS-NIC Advisory Committee

The Advisory Committee was designed to generate the 1) ideas, 2) strategy, and 3) approach for the NIC itself, and specifically for learning activities such as community calls and convenings.

To create the conditions that support a healthy Networked Improvement Community (NIC), community members need to have shared goals and trust. Learning together, sharing strategies, problem-solving, and collaborating are mechanisms to build this trust while furthering each participant’s work. The organizations in the IFS portfolio have communicated and illustrated their desire to learn from one another as they develop their capacity to become Intermediaries for Scale.

This working group will be supported by Catalyst:Ed, who will provide back-end support, including compiling data and information to help decision making, project managing planning meetings, calls, and convenings, and executing on tasks or activities when IFSs have limited capacity.

Equity Working Group

Intermediaries for Scale (IFS) want to ensure an equity lens embedded in all aspects of this work to ensure they are working toward closing the opportunity gaps that persist across race and class within society. Each IFS wants to ensure they do their work free from bias, and they want to help their institutions do the same. To eliminate discrimination and prejudice and to actively work to correct long-standing racial inequities, NIC members have been working to understand the issues of power, privilege, and race and how they play out within and across institutions.

Specific goals might include:

Shared Capability Building

The purpose is to help intermediaries strengthen their strategies for transforming higher education institutions. Drawing on their experience guiding organizations through communication and planning processes, the Frameworks Institute and WestEd will introduce an approach to developing effective strategies.


Student Voice


The Student Voice Committee has been created to guide and shape meaningful, relevant, and useful IFS Shared Capability Building engagements and supports around student voice. This committee helps ensure that Shared Capability Building is effective and of value by providing a space for IFS to directly influence and guide student voice capability building activities.This may include:

The Tides team provides the backbone support for this committee and work, including coordination, organization, and implementation.


The Student Voice Committee is composed of members that represent the diversity of intermediaries, their approaches, as well as the students the IFS aim to serve. It also includes the members from the Shared Capability Building Advisory subcommittee.

Building Knowledge Management System and Data Strategy

AIHEC is working with the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE) and National Center for Higher Education Management (NCHEMS), to build an internal knowledge management system and data strategy as critical for supporting and empowering their network of TCUs and their overall growth as an organization. AIHEC has a clear approach for collecting, storing, and sharing data, called AIHEC AIMS, but they do not have an overall organizational data strategy for other areas of their work.  As they grow, AIHEC’s organization-wide data strategy needs to be broadened and clear and consistent across teams. AIHEC is also interested in aligning their data strategy with their practice, ensuring tighter processes around program improvement. Consequently, they see the infusion of continuous improvement as necessary for meeting their organizational goals.

Building Human Capital

AIHEC is working with Gupta-Kagan, LLC., to continue efforts initiated around building human capital.

AIHEC is working with Gupta-Kagan, LLC., to continue efforts initiated around building human capital. They would like to continue this momentum by hiring a skilled consultant to support the team in refining their human capital approach and planning related to talent development to do the work that is aligned with the recently commissioned organizational strategic and business plan. The consultant will also work with staff to build internal capabilities around human capital through leadership coaching and support, including scenario planning considering the organization’s changing needs.

AIHEC Partnership with Center for Education Policy Research at Harvard University

The Strategic Data Project Fellowship

A two-year program that strengthens the capacity of education organizations to use data for improvement. We find and train data strategists to advance critical analytic initiatives, uncover valuable insights, and build a strong data culture in partner organizations.

Support IFS in strengthening their use of data to improve student outcomes in higher education. Each fellow will take on a strategic project defined by their organization.

Data Fellow
IFS hires a fellow recruited by SDP via a competitive nationwide search and screening process; SDP provides fellowship training and supports; IFS covers salary and benefits

Agency Fellow
IFS enrolls a current employee who works with data and strategy as a key component of their role and demonstrates growth potential within the organization to participate in the fellowship program.

Fellowship Highlights