Request for Strategic Planning Consultant Services

Young Audiences New Jersey and Eastern Pennsylvania (YA) seeks proposals from experienced consultants to support the development of a three year strategic plan FY25-27. YA’s previous strategic plan (originally FY20-22, extended to due to the pandemic) was designed to improve our value proposition to our partners, to strengthen our work with students and school communities, to better define our value to educational decision makers so that YA programs are recognized for the value we bring to schools around student learning and improved school culture. Four priority areas were identified as having the greatest potential impact on this goal. We intend to revisit and integrate these priorities into FY25-27:

Teaching Artist Engagement: What could a deeper engagement with, and commitment to, teaching artists bring to student learning?

  • Note: Since 2020 we have made progress in this area in ways we’d planned and in ways that were unexpectedly brought upon by the pandemic (virtual/video work, artist covenings, artist relief support, collaborative program development)

YA Arts Lab: What happens when YA programs are offered with frequency and regularity over several years at a single school?

Note: The pandemic brought upon barriers to our success in this area. We weren’t able to accomplish all the work planned, and long-term measurement of impact on attendance was not possible.

YA Assessment: How can YA demonstrate the impact of its work?

Note: The pandemic made it impossible for us to perform program visits and assess program impact in the ways we’d planned. Concurrently, we have been exploring more ideas around equitable, non-extractive assessment practices that differ from prior plans and policies.

YA Arts United (DEIA): How does YA make good on the promise to “reach every child?”

Note: Since 2020, we have continued in this work (in programming, in organizational systems, and in field connections). The effort is embedded in all areas of YA and we are eager to build vision and action for the next phase.

New areas of inquiry need to be integrated into this strategic planning process:

  • Our Arts United (DEIA) work over the last 5 years has been priority, both in internal efforts within the organization, and in program development. How do we integrate this into our organizational brand, messaging, to share sense of possibility and inspiration around this work?
  • What is community to YA? Amidst desire for stakeholder engagement, community-centric practices, how does a regional organization like YA, that works in dozens/hundreds of geographic communities, define community and bring community voice into organizational and programmatic decision-making, and communicate clearly to stakeholders.
  • Funding crisis: Major foundations and corporations who have historically invested in arts and arts education are moving away from those priorities, having an immediate impact on YA. In addition, significant grant-funded programs are ending. How does YA respond to these funding challenges, advocate for robust support of its mission, and advance priorities in such a difficult environment?
  • Revisioning assessment through anti-oppression, anti-extraction lens has been a focus in the last year. How do we integrate these practices in YA? And how do we share results to tell the story of what’s possible?
  • We are doing small scale pilot programs with digital/video program components to support student learning, teacher and family engagement in the arts. How do we learn from this, build business and income streams, while supporting student learning and engagement?
  • Partnerships within the arts and arts education field have been cornerstones for many years. What partnerships outside of arts education will advance mission, strengthen work, reach more children?


About Young Audiences New Jersey & Eastern Pennsylvania

About Young Audiences’ Arts United (DEIA) Commitment


YA Personnel, Assets and Systems that can support this effort:

  • FY20-22 Strategic Plan: priority areas, with progress updates
  • YA’s DEIA (named Arts United) statement of values and priorities, and selected indicators on our website, and our detailed annual workplan with progress updates
  • In progress, 50th Anniversary Celebration and campaign offers engagement from long-time supporters of YA
  • Weekly staff meetings; collaborative staff departments or working groups
  • Time during board meetings (September, November, January, March) and board/staff retreat (February)
  • Accessible conference room space for meetings up to 20 ppl, with technology to include hybrid participants
  • Comfort and familiarity (board and staff) with Zoom and Teams for meeting use
  • Connection/engagement with current school partners
  • Connection/engagement with current YA teaching artists
  • Connection/engagement with YA Partner agencies

Request for Inquiries

Consultants interested in this project are asked to complete a short questionnaire to help us understand you better, (questions and link below). We do not require a customized scope of work, or detailed project plan. We recognize that aspects of this work fall squarely in equity-informed strategic planning and other aspects fall into brand and messaging and that we may need to engage with more than one team/consultant to accomplish our goals. Based on responses to the questionnaire, we will have follow up 30-40 minute meetings with those most aligned, available and interested.  If necessary, we will have longer follow up discussions to make our final selection. We will offer a $150 honorarium for the initial 30-40 minute meeting, and additional honorarium for any other follow up discussions. We have a budget of $40,000-$50,000 for this work and are open to proposals that vary by 10-20% of our stated budget.

YA Timeline and Calendar:


June: Strategic Planning Committee members (board and staff) identified

June-mid July: YA reach out to consultants, reviews consultant responses

Late July: Strategic Planning Committee convenes, reviews and selects consultant for follow up meetings

July/August: Consultant Review and Meetings (Honorarium provided for meetings)

August: Consultant Selected

Strategic Planning Committee meetings: to be scheduled as needed to support the effort

September: YA Board Meeting, kick off SP process

November: YA Board Meeting


January: YA Board Meeting; YA staff mid-year retreat

YA Board Retreat (typically early February but can be adjusted), focus on strategic planning and artmaking

March 2024—Deadline for high level SP draft for YA to provide to New Jersey State Council on the Arts (NJSCA)  for GOS grant application

April-June 2024—Strategic Plan Implementation plan developed in partnership with YA staff and board committees

June 2024—YA Annual Meeting, approval and adoption of strategic plan & implementation plan

Requested Deliverables

  • Draft FY25-27 Strategic Plan (March 2024)
  • Final FY25-27 Strategic Plan (June 2024) including: Framework for action planning (to be completed by board/staff teams) and Resourcing Plan (financial resources, human resources, operational needs)


Questionnaire Link

Deadline: July 21st

Questionnaire Preview



Phonetic pronunciation of first name


Email address

Phone number

Working environments and supports that support your success

Any web-based resources that connect to your work

Anything else you’d like us to know about you

Please answer the following questions:

  • How do you work with multiple stakeholders to understand organizational needs and opportunities? What is your discovery and synthesis process?
  • What leave behind tool(s) are most effective in supporting organizations implementing their vision/strategy over time?
  • What will you need from us at Young Audiences for this project to be successful?
  • After reviewing what we’ve provided, do you have any questions for Young Audiences?


Michele Russo, President & CEO, [email protected]

Ann Betterton, VP of Institutional Advancement, [email protected]