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English at Work Case Study #2


“After a few years of leading the organization through passion and instinct alone,
I began to feel the effects of not having an informed strategic plan in place.
Working with Social Velocity helped everyone at E@W get on the same page about
our actual impact, our competitive advantage, and the direction in which we’re heading.
Plus, we have measurable goals and actions that keep us headed in that direction.
This has made the organization more effective and has made me a happier, more secure leader.”

-Maile Broccoli-Hickey, ENGLISH @ WORK Founder & Executive Director



ENGLISH @ WORK, a nonprofit that provides English language instruction to the employees of hotels, restaurants, hospitals and other service businesses, had a great model that was delivering phenomenal results. Their students were increasing their English language abilities at twice the rate of other English language programs. The ENGLISH @ WORK model was innovative because it brought customized, teacher-led instruction to the job site, ensuring that students stayed with the program and improved their skills, got promoted at work, became more financially secure, and contributed to a stronger economy and community. ENGLISH @ WORK’s model was a great one, but they were only teaching 300 employees per year. And there were thousands of ESL service employees in their region. ENGLISH @ WORK had a model that worked, but no way to expand it to meet the enormous need.


With funding from a handful of donors who loved the ENGLISH @ WORK model and were willing to invest in building the organization for growth, Maile Broccoli-Hickey, founder and executive director of ENGLISH @ WORK, hired Social Velocity to lead a growth planning effort and to create a strategy for raising growth capital, the dollars required to build the organization infrastructure to achieve growth. Social Velocity led a team of ENGLISH @ WORK board members, advisors, funders and other key stakeholders to conduct market research on the climate for growth (ESL students, competitive organizations, etc), analyze growth scenarios, chart a vision for growth and create a strategic, measurable, executable plan for growth. Once the plan was in place, Social Velocity worked with Maile to create a compelling, concise pitch to for growth capital and a strategy for finding and going after prospective funders.

What Social Velocity Delivered:

  • 10-year vision for English at Work growth
  • Comprehensive, measurable, executable, financeable 3-year strategic growth plan
  • Year 1 detailed operational plan
  • Compelling presentation asking for growth capital to fund the plan
  • Growth capital prospect strategy


With Social Velocity’s help in crafting a growth plan and a pitch for the funding to implement the plan, English at Work is actively engaged in growing from 300 students per year to 6,000 students per year. They are close to securing $100,000 per year for several years from a handful of local funders, and the growth pitch has helped ENGLISH @ WORK attract the attention of new national funders. They met their goal of raising 35% of their revenue from earned income. They have restructured their board to include more connected members and key stakeholder representatives. The 2011 board raised 6 times as much money as the 2010 board did. They have hired new staff, including a Communications and Development Assistant who helped triple the number of individual donations E@W received from 2010 to 2011. They have either secured contracts with, or are in talks with, 4 key employers in their target industries: Seton Healthcare Family, St. David’s Healthcare, Whole Foods, and HEB. They have been meeting with prospective growth capital donors and are confident that they will meet their growth capital goal. The organization is now poised to dramatically expand their model and have a much more significant impact on the economy and workforce.

If you want to talk with Nell about whether a consulting engagement might be right for your nonprofit, fill out this form. We’ll get back to you within 24 hours to schedule a time to talk.

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