Though a single individual can play an important role in change, even the most charismatic leader cannot achieve or sustain long-lasting education reform alone. Creating enduring, meaningful change depends on forging external partnerships with those groups outside the school system who want to see the system and its students thrive. This requires a formalized and transparent "theory of change" model. Deloitte Consulting, the Gates Foundation and the District of Columbia Education Compact (DCEC) joined forces to develop a theory of change model to support education reform in the District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS). As a result, the DCEC--comprising more than 100 community organizations-- filled a vital role in the strategic planning process and forged a strong partnership with DCPS leadership. Community groups and the district are now working together to implement and sustain change in one of the country's most troubled districts.