Building Education Organizations to Last


Our Team: Experience. Empathy. Transformational Thinking.


Launching and Revitalizing Education Organizations

From Mission to Market: The rpk GROUP Solution

Education and work are being disrupted. Traditional methods for supporting education business models are no longer effective, and innovation disconnected from the business model is not sustainable. As a leading education consulting firm, we support clients across the country and internationally to design, build, and implement education models that last.

We help education organizations create new business models that:

chevchev-smEnsure that resources are invested in student success

chevchev-sm Generate the resources to allow for reinvestment across the organization

chevchev-smCreate economic engines from both existing and new programs and services

This distinctive emphasis on maximizing mission, market, and margin for our clients has quickly earned rpk GROUP an influential role in defining the future of education and work.

What We Do

rpk GROUP’s Consulting Focus:



How we help our clients:

  • Build innovative education and business models
  • Provide executive coaching and executive team as a service
  • Conduct academic innovation and portfolio reviews
  • Uncover administrative service efficiencies and cost savings
  • Create new resource allocation and investment models
  • Develop technology enabled products and services
  • Design and execute next generation learning models
  • Develop pro forma models to test new program and service initiatives
  • Establish benchmarks and key performance indicators
  • Create strategic sourcing and shared service models
  • Assess return on investment for strategic and facilities master planning
  • Provide advisory, change management, and strategic planning services


Our partnerships with preeminent national foundations enable the rpk GROUP team to research and field test new models and methods. We share these with our clients, who benefit from cutting edge approaches that are grounded in real-world experience. We help education organizations create new business models that support innovation portfolio management, strategic finance, technology enabled models and the development of education products and services. We serve higher education, K-12, membership organizations, and other non-profits and for profits.

The Critical Need for New Business Models

With the financial health of many education organizations increasingly at risk, the need for creating sustainable business and innovation models has never been more pressing. Yet at a time of growing urgency, exhausted financial approaches stubbornly prevail at too many of our nation’s institutions, colleges, companies, and school districts.

Traditional methods that are no longer effective include:

chevchev-smCost Cutting:
The resort to cost cutting is a short-term and short-sighted solution, yielding temporary relief at best and lasting damage at worst.

chevchev-smA Focus on Budget Balancing:
Organizations have focused on simply balancing their budgets for one more year, rather than making strategic decisions that increase the return on investment to students.

chevchev-smPreserving the Status Quo:
Most budget processes attempt to fund historic cost structures, instead of reallocating resources to better fulfill organizational mission.

Our Approach

Our Mission, Market, and Margin framework ensures that our clients develop strategic answers to the questions arising in education’s new environment.


Our approach allows our clients to maximize their current business models while simultaneously increasing their capacity to move toward a new shared future vision. This enhancement of the current business model results in:

  • A new awareness of the return on investment lens
  • The creation of new metrics for strong analysis and storytelling
  • Optimization of the academic and innovation portfolios and administrative services
  • The reallocation of resources toward investments that enhance student success and financial sustainability
  • The realization of new net revenue for further investment and innovation

Our Clients

Revitalizing and reimagining today’s education organizations.

rpk GROUP serves clients throughout the U.S. and globally, including two-year and four-year schools, public and private sector institutions, K-12, charters, private schools, and systems, educational policy and governance organizations, and foundations. Our teams of experts have helped to launch new organizations, as well as revitalize traditional organizations seeking to improve the system they have while innovating towards the system they need.

Our Team

At rpk GROUP, each of our team members brings a unique breadth and depth to the lens of organizational transformation. Together, they help leaders and teams create safe spaces where difficult decisions can be made through data-informed, strategically framed dialogue. Each of our team members brings significant experience serving education, non-profits, for profits, and companies. They have “sat in the chair” and understand the challenges facing your organization today, as well as the solutions that are now transforming the industry.

Rick Staisloff
Senior Partner
Bryan Setser
Lisa Clarke
Senior Associate
Alisa Federico Cunningham
Donna Desrochers
Raven Moody
Jeanne Contardo
Natalie M 'Nikki' Krawitz
Lee Schwentker
Katie Hagan
Lysa Teal
Senior Associate

News and Events

Check out our article in the Chronicle about controlling costs in higher education – If controlling costs were a baseball game for colleges, what inning would it be? Panelists at a recent conference suggested the seventh inning (almost there) and the fifth (a ways to go). Rick Staisloff said the game hadn’t even begun: “We’re warming up the band to start singing ‘The Star-Spangled Banner.’

Profile of our work with Akilah in Rwanda — The project will be led by a small steering team of Rick Staisloff and Bryan Setser of rpk GROUP, and Michael Horn, Mike Berlin, and Lauren Dibble from Entangled Solutions. Both firms have previous experience working with organizations internationally on reshaping their academic and business portfolios and “harvesting” resources for reinvestment and new model development.

Rick Staisloff of rpk GROUP talks about delivering high quality education at a lower cost in light of Boston University’s potential bailout of Wheelock College.

Bryan Setser of rpkGROUP recently selected by the Akilah Institute as a global advisor. Check out the mission today to empower women in Africa through university and job training.

Higher education’s Macy’s problem (subscription may be required)
Rather, this latest discounting study “suggests that we are nearing the end of solutions based on pricing for higher education,” said Rick Staisloff, founder of rpk Group, a consulting firm, and a former vice president for finance and administration at what is now known as Notre Dame of Maryland University. Colleges now need to focus on the other side of the equation—cutting the cost of educating students. “My experience across institutions nationally is that we have not focused sufficient attention on cost,” he said.

Bryan Setser and Rick Staisloff on Telling the Story of Innovation & Return on Investment
While stories about increased cost pressures, the pace of change, and fickle student demands abound, the time has come for higher education leaders to write new stories that capture how we will create future-ready campuses.

Education Dive
What is the role of faculty in the higher ed business model?

Teibel, Inc.
Looking to the Business Model for True Innovation

University of North Carolina, Board of Governors
Strategic Priorities Discussion, Innovation and Business Model for Higher Ed