• "Building Civic Infrastructure to prioritize education"



Strive Strategic Assistance

Strive’s primary focus is getting to 15 Cradle to Career Communities by 2015.  These communities will have met all the quality benchmarks in the Theory of Action and, most importantly, will be seeing positive trends on more and more student outcomes each year in their community.

Strive staff is available to provide strategic assistance to communities who feel such support would expedite their progress on meeting quality benchmarks and realizing sustained and consistent improvements in student outcomes.  This support is offered on a fee-for-service basis to ensure sites have some “skin in the game” in accessing the support, but it is highly subsidized by investors such as The Annie E. Casey Foundation, Ford Foundation, and Living Cities.  The revenue from this work ensures the Cradle to Career Network is positioned for long-term sustainability and is not completely dependent on grants.

Strategic Assistance options can be divided into three distinct areas:

  • Design Institutes:  To help sites meet the Exploring benchmarks in the Theory of Action, we work with sites to develop a 180-day plan they can update on an ongoing basis to ensure sustained progress over time.  This work typically lasts four to six months and includes weekly calls to problem solve technical and adaptive issues as a community faces the inevitable challenges of building civic infrastructure.  In addition, this includes two to three site visits including a planning retreat to engage key partners in guiding the strategic direction of the work locally, including establishing a backbone or anchor entity, as well as a Design Institute with a broader set of community stakeholders to develop the 180-day plan.  Strive acts as a partner and coach in the process, working to achieve the shared goal of meeting “Sustaining” quality benchmarks and improved student outcomes over the long-term.
  • Collaborative Action Coaching:  Once sites have developed the foundation for building civic infrastructure by meeting the “Exploring” quality benchmarks in the Theory of Action, an entirely new set of challenges emerge around working with cross-sector stakeholders to improve specific outcomes.  This requires several key elements:  a) ensuring the partnership leaders are modeling individual actions that reinforce the fundamental shift in behavior that is required to have collective impact, b) implementing comprehensive data systems to aggregate individual student performance data across the cradle to career continuum with programmatic and service data to better understand what practices are having impact, and c) creating networks of providers and funders working together to build comprehensive action plans that use the analytical power from the comprehensive data management systems.  Strive staff model effective practices in building tools and facilitating meetings, while training the local backbone staff to sustain the work over the long-term.
  • Tailored Coaching and Strategic Guidance:  For some communities, less intensive support that empowers local leaders at all levels to utilize the Theory of Action on their own is necessary.  In this case, Strive will consider providing tailored support that both parties agree will enable them to meet the Theory of Action as expeditiously as possible, while not being overly intrusive of the communities need to partake in their own process.

All these strategic assistance options start with Strive staff becoming fully immersed in the local assets and contextual factors.  This ensures communities do not reinvent the wheel and have a true partner to help overcome challenges that are unique to the community being served.  This process of establishing a shared understanding of the local community is based on the Theory of Action and has been vetted by national partners and evaluation firms for rigor and quality.

If you are interested in strategic assistance after completing the Site Readiness Assessment, please contact Colin Groth at grothc@strivenetwork.org.

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