The 2017 Social & Community Investment Awards: The Boston Consulting Group

The Boston Consulting Group

Type of Work: Significantly Discounted Client: UNICEF

Education Cannot Wait (ECW), the first global fund for education in emergencies, was launched in May 2016 at the World Humanitarian Summit. It brings together humanitarian and development actors, as well as governments, multilaterals, NGOs, and the private sector, to deliver a more collaborative and rapid response to the educational needs of children and youth affected by crises.

With the aspiration to raise $3.8 billion in its first five years, the fund—hosted by UNICEF—engaged BCG to design, in partnership with ECW stakeholders, how the fund will work. The project focused on ECW’s operating model, governance and results framework.

BCG synthesized existing assessments, analyzed the landscape of unmet needs in education in emergencies, conducted a comparative analysis of 15 funds and peer organizations, and interviewed more than 50 stakeholders and experts in the fields of humanitarian work, development and education, says Partner Lane McBride.

“We also held two two-day design workshops with key ECW stakeholders and formed a technical working group of monitoring and evaluation experts to help design the results framework,” he says. “After four months of analysis and synthesis, the final design proposal was approved and is already generating tangible returns.” Funding has been announced and will support children in 11 countries, including Syria, Ukraine and Uganda. “It is still early, but the BCG team has played an important role in securing a strong start for this critical global fund,” McBride says.

Education Cannot Wait embodies many things BCG holds dear, says Olga Berlinsky, New York-based principal, in BCG’s Education and Social Impact practices. “It marries two of our biggest social-sector priorities: education and humanitarian relief, and focuses on some of the world’s neediest populations,” she says. “Beyond that, we see ECW as illuminating a need that has gotten little public attention. Education has too often fallen by the wayside in refugee relief initiatives and other emergency responses. Children in crisis-affected areas may be out of school for years, which is damaging to both individuals and societies, with generational ripple effects that make poverty and conflict even more intractable. We were honored to help ECW begin to reverse this vicious cycle.”

McBride says, social impact is explicit in BCG’s values and tackling difficult and complex problems is ingrained in its DNA. “We partnered to take on a massive problem—an $8.5 billion funding gap for education in emergencies,” he says. “The scale of this project was daunting, but we relished the chance to get involved in ECW’s early stages. It has been extremely rewarding to watch ECW’s rapid development over the past year.”

Q&A: How would you characterize employees’ reaction to the work?

Berlinsky: “Our project team members consistently viewed this work as one of the most inspiring and impactful efforts they have been a part of at BCG.  The work wasn’t easy; in fact, the project’s pace and complexity often created a heavy workload.  However, the opportunity to have impact and the excitement of working with such a diverse, committed and equally hard-working set of clients and stakeholders made it easy to stay motivated.”


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