Crystal Springs Uplands School

Fall-Winter 2005
Project Type
Full team
Project Focus
Operations Review
Organization Type


Crystal Springs Uplands School (CSUS) is an independent, coeducational college preparatory school located on a ten-acre suburban campus on the San Francisco Peninsula. CSUS has 350 students enrolled in grades 6-12.


CSUS operates a summer program for children entering grades four through nine with three components: one-week camps and clinics, a five-week summer enrichment program, and the Gateway Program, a five-week program operated by Peninsula Bridge on the CSUS campus targeted at underprivileged kids with the goal of preparing them for ninth grade algebra. Historically, the summer camp and enrichment program have been run with the goal of generating income to support the school’s regular academic year operations, but this goal has not been met for the past two summers due to both a revenue shortfall and higher expenses. The Gateway program has been supported as a community outreach effort, both to support underprivileged children in the local community and to recruit academically qualified children to the school. However, no child has ever matriculated from the Gateway program to CSUS.

Project Objectives

CSUS asked the ACT team to help improve the economic performance of the summer camp and enrichment program, looking specifically at curriculum offerings, scheduling, and pricing. CSUS also asked for help determining if the Peninsula Bridge Gateway Program fits with the school’s mission and whether CSUS should continue to support the program.

Project Overview

The ACT team examined the financial performance of CSUS’s summer programs and evaluated the optimal use of CSUS’s facilities during summer months with the following assumptions: programs should contribute financially to CSUS, preserve intangible benefits, and not deter from CSUS brand and reputation.

The project followed a two-part structure. First, the short-term team conducted interviews, reviewed programs (enrollment patterns, marketing initiatives, and competition), and delivered a report and recommendations to improve current operations without major structural changes. The long-term team examined creative use of facilities and programming, gave a more in-depth financial analysis, gave a review of competitive landscape and demographics, and delivered final report regarding analysis and ideas for summer data collection.

The long-term team did not make a formal recommendation regarding continued support of the Peninsula Bridge program as it was felt this was a complex issue tied to the mission and values of the CSUS vision for diversity outreach and community support that was outside the scope of optimizing the summer operations.

Key Recommendations


  • Invest more in marketing
  • Track key management information
  • Refine communication strategy
  • Simplify offerings


  • Provide more supervision for younger campers
  • Cut under-enrolled courses
  • Balance offerings to reduce internal competition
  • Reconsider loss leaders on financial basis
  • Consider changing camp length, as the market strongly prefers shorter camps