Q&A: Furman Haynes '17, Special Assistant at CityBridge

March 1, 2019

Fuman Haynes
Furman Hayes started with CityBridge as a Project 55 Fellow on the portfolio evaluation team. Soon after, he transitioned to a special assistant, then to an entrepreneur in the organization’s portfolio. Learn about his career path and his role at CityBridge. 
What do you do in your role?

CityBridge is an organization in Washington, D.C. that has supported public schools in the city for well over a decade. CityBridge’s current work focuses on the early-stage incubation of entrepreneurs to build excellent and equitable new schools in D.C.

There exists a critical gap in funding and other supports early in the school creation pipeline. CityBridge is helping fill that gap by selecting talented entrepreneurs and giving them the time, resources and engaged network needed to build new and innovative school models.

The Portfolio Evaluation team helps CityBridge measure, evaluate and learn from its past, present and future work. My work streams here have included managing and analyzing data for the schools in our current and past portfolios, analyzing school and subgroup performance of schools in D.C., and developing new measures of impact for our incubation work.

What do you like most about this position?

The most exciting aspects of my work on the Portfolio Evaluation team involve helping connect data and research to strategy.

Last fall, for example, I conducted market analysis of a need for new schools in D.C. This project included projecting out future student enrollment growth using an Excel model and assessing parent demand for different school models using waitlist data.

I have also enjoyed helping the organization think through our value-add in incubating entrepreneurs to launch new schools, both for internal learning and external funding. Our early-stage incubation work presents a real challenge for measuring and proving impact. Given that the traditional metrics of a successful school won’t be available for at least three to five years down the line, how can we know whether a given entrepreneur or new school is successful sooner? CityBridge is now in the process of developing intermediate measures for the progress of entrepreneurs and their school models. I have sincerely enjoyed helping come up with creative measures for this innovative work.

What are a few experiences that helped you realize this post-graduation plan was a good first-step for you? 

At Princeton, I struggled to reconcile two desires: that of wanting to be helping solve entrenched social problems, and that of wanting to be successful, or at least be viewed as successful in that select peer environment.

A web of supports at Princeton—formal advising appointments and informal relationships with friends, family and faculty helped—evolved my own thinking pushed me to pursue an early career in the social sector.

My specific interest in CityBridge was also sparked prior to Project 55. In fact, I first learned of organization and its innovative work in urban education in D.C. while attending a Princeton in Washington event at Katherine Bradley’s home in the summer of 2016.

Did any previous work experiences play a part in your decision to pursue this role?

At a high level, I knew that I wanted to help solve complex social problems.

My internship at the National Economic Council at the White House before my senior year suggested to me that I was not interested in working in policy or government right away, however.

I had also gained meaningful experience in direct service work the previous summer, when I taught English in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania through an experiential learning course through the Princeton Institute for International and Regional Studies. This experience affirmed my deep commitment to service while also showing me that I was more motivated by social change at the systems level.