Jessica Brown

Written by Jessica Brown

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Think of a student whose parents are incarcerated and who has bounced around multiple group and foster homes. He gets placed with a family member for awhile who makes sure he has a positive education experience and good physical & mental care. That caregiver falls ill and he has to move back to his hometown. His records— academic and health— do not follow him and he is put in classes that he had already passed and quickly gets disengaged and drops out. He gets into trouble and is sentenced to 18 months in juvie. 

Think of a teacher who is dedicated to creating new experiences for her students. She wants to prioritize outdoor learning but is based in New York City where there are only a few comfortable months to explore outside. Her plans are stifled by constraints and leaders and she doesn’t see a path forward. There is a culture of perfection that doesn’t support an adaptive mindset. However, she persists and shifts her lens from outside learning to outside of the box learning. She took her students to Mars by putting all clocks on Mars time, having projects for students to explore different aspects of the planet, and inviting experts to guide their space adventure.

These stories are the imperative for the Integration Design Consortium(IDC). In the first, the fragmentation of the services led to a young person to fall through the cracks. The second highlights an educator providing great educational experiences despite her environment both weather and school. In both cases, more integrated systems could combat isolation and distrust.

How might we move up the intervention points for young people struggling with their education? How might we create an ecosystem that is resilient, supportive, and brings together the many services that touch young people’s lives?


For the past year, BIF has been leading the Learning Agenda for the Integration Design Consortium—  a new approach to integrating our education system that brings together five design team to create new, innovative approaches within education. The teams— 2Revolutions, Bellwether, Education First, FSG, and The Teachers Guild— are working from the classroom to the statehouse to create a more integrated, equitable education system.

The IDC exists to (1) build greater understanding of the approaches and conditions that enable integration in the education sector (2) codify stories, tools, and resources to amplify the impact of the participating design teams and the education field as a whole, and (3) catalyze interest in the issue of fragmentation more broadly. Ultimately, we seek to create compelling models that employ an integrated approach — as opposed to fragmented point-solutions. Greater integration is needed if we are to create transformational, equitable change in the field of education.

But what does fragmentation actually look like? What does integration feel like? And how might we better understand the conditions that must be put in place for us to move towards further integration?

At the second convening of the IDC, we set out to identify the key levers to integration based on the teams’ project experiences. These real-world examples provided a break down of the aspects that are most vital to creating a poor or an excellent state of integration. These dimensions became a foundation for our conversations and a way to observe how systems that project teams are working on are changing over time, ideally towards further integration.

Check out this video representation of our learnings and connect with us on Twitter @TheBIF to let us know what fragmentation looks like in your context. For more on the IDC, visit our site at

The first iteration of these findings can be found in this document: Patterns Of Fragmentation And Integration.