Almaden Country Day School II

Spring-Summer 2021
Project Type
Full team
Project Focus
Business Plans,
Feasibility Study,
Market Analysis
Organization Type


Almaden Country Day School (ACDS) is a PreK-8th grade independent school. Its educational philosophy is countercultural in Silicon Valley – children learn best in a low-stress, high-opportunity environment that balances academic rigor, character education, and joyful learning experiences. 


Currently, there are no options for parents in South San Jose who seek a nonprofit, secular, student-centered independent high school. ACDS believes that many of its current families would continue through 12th grade if it offered a high school. In addition, having a high school might increase the likelihood that parents would select ACDS for elementary school. But ACDS does not know how widely its model would appeal to the community at large.

Project Objectives

Almaden Country Day School asked for ACT’s help in conducting a market assessment as part of a feasibility study on creating a new high school based on the current ACDS educational philosophy, culture & values. The work involved understanding the current and expected competitive landscape, receptivity among current ACDS families, interest among middle-school families not enrolled at ACDS, and how other local independent schools have evaluated this issue (key questions: what will demand be? what program elements are critical? would ACDS families contribute with donations to start a high school? what locations are preferred?). In parallel, ACDS staff considered what facilities and staffing would be required. 

Project Overview

The work involved:

  1. Assessing market demand by:  
    • Analyzing local demographics as to high school age populations, economic capacity, and distance;
    • Surveying and interviewing current/alumni students and parents, board members, and key staff to determine priorities for a high school program;
    • Surveying students and current/alumni parents as to willingness to attend a new ACDS high school and willingness to support it through financial contributions;  
  2. Analyzing competitive dynamics of local parochial, independent, public, and charter schools; and
  3. Providing a dynamic financial model (based on enrollment, tuition, and tuition assistance assumptions).

Key Recommendations

If there is bandwidth and continued support for the idea, significant resources will be needed to develop a compelling ACDS high school value proposition/program and to delve into deeper market research.

Key Conclusions

  • Mixed Demand Picture
  • Target market income data appears to support an independent, progressive high school
  • However, there are indications that current independent high school capacity appears to meet overall market demand
  • Demographic headwinds include a projected significant decline in school age enrollment
  • Converting majority of ACDS 8th graders is not a given and will require strong value proposition for parents/students
  • New entrants, i.e., Avenues, likely to intensify competition for ACDS 8th graders

Final Report Outline

  • Review of Project Plan & Scope
  • Executive Summary
  • Demand Landscape/Analysis
  • Board/Staff Survey Themes
  • Parent Survey Themes
  • Alumni Parent Survey Themes
  • Follow-up Parent Interview Themes
  • Student Survey Themes
  • Case Studies
  • Financial Considerations
  • Conclusions/Recommendations