Designing Technical Assistance to Solve Challenging Problems

Technical assistance (TA) has the potential to promote equitable, sustainable outcomes for all, by pairing individuals and groups, such as education leaders, community members, and school districts, with experts who can guide the change-making process.

AIR's Four Core Principles of Technical Assistance

  1. Client-focused;
  2. Evidence-informed and evidence-generating;
  3. Grounded in diversity, equity, and inclusion; and
  4. Intentionally designed.

Learn more about the cross-cutting techniques and strategies that distinguish AIR's TA.

TA approaches vary based on the scope of the challenge, the local context, and individual client goals, and this expansiveness means that it can be difficult to define. Thinking about TA as change facilitation is one way to get a clearer picture of how TA works, AIR Managing Director Tori Cirks says. 

AIR experts’ goal is to build partners’ knowledge and skills so they feel comfortable implementing change. They also help partners assess what tools and resources are needed along the change-making process.

People are at the heart of AIR’s TA approach. To provide effective TA, AIR’s experts work collaboratively with partners to gain a deep understanding of local policies, systems, and contexts and create sustainable solutions to their challenges. As Garry Davis, AIR principal TA consultant, says, “It’s about harnessing the power of the collective to solve challenging problems.”

In this video Q&A, Cirks and Davis explain more about AIR’s approach to technical assistance and discuss how it can be effective.