Outward Bound California IV

San Francisco
Spring-Summer 2021
Project Type
Fast track
Project Focus
Organizational Development
Organization Type
Children, Youth & Families,


Outward Bound California (OBCA), a branch of Outward Bound USA, is a nonprofit educational organization and expedition school offering experiential learning programs that challenge students to develop the skills and inner strengths they need to succeed in their schools, communities and careers. OBCA works with young people and adults from all walks of life and backgrounds and is dedicated to serving under-represented youth from low-income communities while drawing on a legacy of high-quality and transformational programs developed by Outward Bound for over 50 years. 

In 2019 OBCA served over 2200 students in the Bay Area, the High Sierra and Southern California and delivered over 12,000 days of programming. The pandemic forced the organization to pause all programming until October 2020 when its new ropes course in San Francisco was completed. The ropes course will significantly increase the OBCA’s ability to serve young people in San Francisco’s lowest income neighborhoods. 


What is the best organization structure for Outward Bound California’s current situation and for over the next 1-3 years?  


Because of the cancelation of almost all its expedition programs in 2020, OBCA’s earned revenue (which normally provides 50% of its budget) was mostly eliminated, a loss of nearly $2 million. This forced OBCA to reduce its full-time staff from 27 to 16; and it had turnover in a few senior leadership positions. When OBCA resumes its expedition programs later this year, it expects to increase its staff. The Executive Director is currently considering the following organizational questions:

  • What is the best organization structure for the current situation and over the next 1-3 years?  
  • What are key departments where investment or headcount is needed? 
  • What is the optimum number of people reporting directly to her?  
  • What is the most scalable structure for OBCA’s program teams?  
  • What departments can be combined or need to be separated? 
  • What consideration should be given to advancing diversity/equity/inclusion in their organization?

Project Objectives

Outward Bound California would like an ACT project team to review its current organization structure: size, departments, reporting relationships, efficiencies, inefficiencies and potential to reduce or add positions. The ACT team will also compare the organization size and structure of Outward Bound California to a few similar Outward Bound schools in the US. Finally, the team will recommend organizational changes and help the Executive Director build staff alignment around the recommended organization structure.


This is a Fast Track project:

  • Scope: Focused, specific organizational issue
  • Team Size: 2-3 consultants, including 1 project leader
  • Project Duration: 3 months
  • Estimated Time Contribution: 25-30 hrs total (per consultant)

Read more about the Fast Track Project Consultant role.