STRIVE THEORY OF ACTION:CREATING CRADLE TO CAREER PROOF POINTS

Partnerships in the EXPLORING gateway are working on the beginning pieces of formulating a partnership: convening the right people, committing to a common cradle to career vision for all kids, establishing the right tables to get the job done, selecting community level outcomes to hold the Partnership accountable, and ensuring sustainability through selecting an anchor entity to support the work.

Theory of Action - Exploring

A cross-sector Partnership of an acceptable composition and scope organizes around a compelling need and commits to a cradle to career vision.

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Quality Benchmark:
A cross-sector Partnership of an acceptable composition and scope organizes around a compelling need and commits to a cradle to career vision.
 
Partnership that Exemplifies Quality Benchmark: The Learning Network
 
In 2005, anonymous donors stepped forward to create The Kalamazoo Promise which provides college scholarships to every student that graduates from Kalamazoo Public Schools. Over time, leadership in the community realized that in order to leverage the full potential of The Promise, they needed a comprehensive strategy for ensuring all students were prepared to take advantage of this unique opportunity. Inspired by community need and an invitation to apply for a significant grant from national funders, a core group of public, private and non profit leaders in Kalamazoo, Michigan crafted a framework for community transformation with two goals--1. Improvement of birth to career student preparation systems, and 2. broad, deep and authentic community engagement.
 
Key Questions for Your Partnership:
  • What sectors are currently engaged in the Partnership (e.g.: business, K-12, higher education, philanthropy, faith based community, etc.)?
  • How are these sectors demonstrating their engagement in the Partnership?
  • To what extent are leaders representing the school district(s) engaged in the Partnership?
  • What is the geographic scope of the Partnership?
  • Why was this geographic scope selected?
  • What compelling need has the Partnership organized around?
  • How has the Partnership demonstrated its commitment to a cradle to career vision?

 

The Partnership commits to work to improve overall outcomes and eliminate locally defined disparities in student achievement.

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Quality Benchmark:
The Partnership commits to work to improve overall outcomes and eliminate locally defined disparities in student achievement.
 
 
Partnership that Exemplifies Quality Benchmark: Generation Next
 
After the University of Minnesota African American Leadership Forum expressed deep concern over the graduation rates of students of color, the Generation Next partnership formed to examine the widening achievement gap between white students and students of color and lower-income households in Minneapolis and St. Paul. Realizing that this gap reached from kindergarten readiness through post-secondary credentials, the partnership committed itself to narrowing this achievement gap. Making this commitment the center of the partnership's work, it has aligned its strategies and resources around its vision to ensure that children of all socio-economic backgrounds are well prepared for success in the 21st century.
 
Key Questions for Your Partnership:
  • How is the Partnership demonstrating a commitment to improve outcomes in student achievement?
  • How has the Partnership demonstrated a commitment to work toward the elimination of locally defined disparities?

 

A cross-sector leadership table with a documented and approved  accountability structure is convened.

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Quality Benchmark:
A cross-sector leadership table with a documented and approved  accountability structure is convened.
 
 
Partnership that Exemplifies Quality Benchmark: The Learning Network
 
An original group of seven cross-sector leaders recognized the importance of expanding the leadership table in order to leverage the community support necessary to execute The Learning Network's framework for community transformation. Accordingly, the seven Executive Team members took responsibility to reach out to their colleagues in K-12, higher education, business, non profit sectors, as well as parents and students to form a 34 member Community Transformation Team (CTT). At its first meeting, the CTT reviewed and approved The Learning Network's Accountability Structure, Community Scorecard, and overall approach to community transformation. The CTT convenes quarterly and is responsible for advocacy and accountability of The Learning Network mission and vision.
 
Key Questions for Your Partnership:
  • Who are the members of the Partnership’s leadership table including organization and title?
  • What different sectors do members of the leadership table represent?
  • How frequently is the leadership table convened?
  • How is the Partnership structured (e.g. different tables) to achieve its vision?
  • What are the roles and responsibilities of the different table of the Partnership?
  • How was the accountability structure approved?

 

The Partnership formalizes a call to action and defines a set of messages that are aligned and effectively communicated across partners.

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Quality Benchmark:
The Partnership formalizes a call to action and defines a set of messages that are aligned and effectively communicated across partners.
 
 
Partnership that Exemplifies Quality Benchmark: Big Goal Collaborative
 
Building on their adoption of the Lumina Big Goal of 60% higher education degrees and credentials by 2025, the Big Goal Collaborative, as part of the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership, has developed a comprehensive community campaign around the importance of the “Big Goal” for the region. Print advertisements, testimonials, web materials and other communications tools were developed to spread the message of the importance of this work for the economic vitality of Northeast Indiana.
 
Key Questions for Your Partnership:
  • How is the Partnership formalizing a call to action?
  • What are the key messages that the Partnership wishes to communicate about its work?
  • In what ways are these key Partnership messages aligned and communicated across partners?

 

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A data team is established and commits to identify community level outcomes/ indicators, and key sub-populations by which to disaggregate local data.

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Quality Benchmark:
A data team is established and commits to identify community level outcomes/ indicators, and key sub-populations by which to disaggregate local data.
 
 
Partnership that Exemplifies Quality Benchmark: Raise DC
 
Like many cities, Washington, DC is a complex educational environment with an array of options for students. Educational partners often had their own set of priorities and used differing data collection systems. As a result, data collection was often inconsistent across educational partners, making it difficult to transparently report data and inform strategic decisions at a citywide level. Recognizing the importance of “speaking the same language” not only among educational partners, but also among partners that provide non-academic supports, Raise DC leaders made it clear that developing a common roadmap for success was needed to galvanize all partners around a shared set of metrics. With encouragement from leadership, partnership staff brought together a data team comprised of key data experts from within the various education and human services agencies as well as research organizations, including the Urban Institute. With the strategic direction set by the leaders of Raise DC, the data team’s work was informed by research of metrics used by other community partnerships and the expertise of network members. A neutral third-party consultant was brought on to facilitate agreement among partners.
 
Key Questions for Your Partnership:
  • Who are members of the data team, including organization and title?
  • To what extent are key representatives from educational institutions (e.g. school district(s), institutions of higher education) engaged in the data team? 
  • What are the roles and responsibilities of the data team?
  • How has the Partnership demonstrated a commitment to identify community level outcomes/indicators and key subpopulation by which to disaggregate local data?

 

The Partnership selects community level outcomes and indicators for release in a report card.

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Quality Benchmark:
The Partnership selects community level outcomes and indicators for release in a report card.
 
 
Partnership that Exemplifies Quality Benchmark: Raise DC
 
Early on in the development of Raise DC, the Urban Institute was contracted to create an inventory of outcomes that similar partnerships across the country measured, as well to delve into existing data systems to determine which outcomes were currently being measured in the District and how they were being measured. This information was first presented to the Raise DC leaders to begin developing consensus around the partnership’s goals. After this groundwork for a community vision was set, the next step was to engage over 100 community members through the Design Institute to hone in on core outcomes and related indicators. Using the input from the Design Institute, the Raise DC data team, with support from staff and an independent consultant, developed final recommendations for which community-level outcomes and indicators Raise DC should measure in their report card. An independent consultant was hired to help support the creation of the Baseline Report Card, which was released to the community in early 2013.
 
Key Questions for Your Partnership:
  • What community level outcomes/indicators did the Partnership select?
  • What criteria were used to identify and select indicators?
  • What contributing indicators were selected, if any?
  • How frequently does the Partnership intend to release the report card?

 

The Partnership mobilizes initial capacity to support the release of the report card including: collecting, managing, disaggregating and analyzing baseline data for community level indicators.

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Quality Benchmark:
The Partnership mobilizes initial capacity to support the release of the report card including: collecting, managing, disaggregating and analyzing baseline data for community level indicators.
 
 
Partnership that Exemplifies Quality Benchmark: Partner for Student Success
 
During the 2011-2012 school year, Partner for Student Success in St. Cloud, MN worked together with the St. Cloud Area School District to explore the sharing of data to inform the work of the cradle to career partnership. They determined that in order to build the capacity to enable this type of data sharing, the district should purchase the TIES i-cue data system, which is a system that enables teachers to efficiently maintain attendance, grades and standardized tests for students. As they work to implement this system and train users, representatives from the cradle to career partnership will also be trained in using the system.  In all cases, the student data will only be shared with parent permission.
 
Key Questions for Your Partnership:
  • What initial capacity has been identified to support the release of the report card?
  • In what ways has the Partnership met initial capacity needed to support the release of the report card?

 

The Partnership understands and commits to use data to drive decision-making and to use a continuous improvement process.

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Quality Benchmark:
The Partnership understands and commits to use data to drive decision-making and to use a continuous improvement process.
 
 
Partnership that Exemplifies Quality Benchmark: Community Education Collaborative
 
Understanding the importance of data in the continuous improvement process, the Community Education Collaborative in Winston-Salem engaged Forsyth Futures for technical assistance with local data. With a core team of four and community partners to support the data and research needs of the Winston-Salem partnership, Forsyth Futures tracks educational success indicators, collecting and analyzing data across a variety of social issues in the community. By leveraging an existing entity for help with their data, the Winston-Salem Partnership had better access to key relationships and key data. And since Forsyth Futures had a list of education outcomes they were already tracking, this gave the Partnership a head start with selecting outcomes - meaning they did not have to start from scratch when identifying the partnership’s community level outcomes.
 
Key Questions for Your Partnership:
  • How has the Partnership demonstrated a commitment to use data to drive decision-making?
  • How has the Partnership demonstrated an understanding of a continuous improvement process?

 

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The Partnership identifies and maps out existing initiatives and community assets relevant to this work.

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Quality Benchmark:
The Partnership identifies and maps out existing initiatives and community assets relevant to this work.
 
 
Partnership that Exemplifies Quality Benchmark: Norwalk ACTS
 
Norwalk ACTS, the cradle to career partnership in Norwalk, CT, looked to existing initiatives and partnerships in the community such as the Norwalk Early Childhood Council, Norwalk Collaborative for Youth Success, Norwalk Childhood Obesity Prevention Group, Diversity Leadership Group and others to help think through and identify relevant cradle to career indicators to track for the Partnership.  When appropriate, these same workgroups will serve in the Convener role for the work of Norwalk ACTS going forward.
 
Key Questions for Your Partnership:
  • What existing initiatives has the Partnership identified and how do these align with selected community-level outcomes/indicators?
  • What community assets have been identified that are relevant to this work?

 

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The community is informed and engaged  in the vision and work of the Partnership.

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Quality Benchmark:
The community is informed and engaged  in the vision and work of the Partnership.
 
 
Partnership that Exemplifies Quality Benchmark: Treasure Valley Education Partnership
 
The Treasure Valley Education Partnership convened nearly 200 individuals from across the region to participate in the Partnership’s Design Institute. This group helped shape the vision for education in the region, and also helped define outcomes critical to students' success, develop a structure to implement the work and prioritize the areas for initial focus. The Design Institute group and broader community continue to be engaged as part of the TVEP Advisory Group, which meets quarterly to learn more about the work and discuss critical issues. The TVEP Advisory Group has grown to include three strategic working groups that are digging into data for 9 school districts and 1 private high school. They’re identifying strategies to ensure every child is prepared for school, is supported inside and outside of school, and enrolls in and completes some form of post high school education. Over the next year, more strategic working groups will form to move forward with additional critical milestones along the educational continuum.
 
Key Questions for Your Partnership:
  • How has the Partnership informed the community of the Partnership’s work during its formation?
  • In what ways has the community been engaged in the formation of the Partnership?

 

The partnership engages funders in the cradle to career vision and identifies potential funding partners to support the operations and collaborative work of the Partnership.

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Quality Benchmark:
The partnership engages funders in the cradle to career vision and identifies potential funding partners to support the operations and collaborative work of the Partnership.
 
 
Partnership that Exemplifies Quality Benchmark: Raise DC
 
The core staffing for Raise DC is in the process of transitioning from the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Education, where the partnership was launched, to the Community Foundation for the National Capital Region. A critical component of this transition was to develop a comprehensive multi- year budget to support partnership operations for the first three years. Moreover, as Raise DC’s collaborative action networks develop charters and action plans, the partnership staff is actively working with the leadership table to identify potential local and national funders to support the collaborative work.
 
Key Questions for Your Partnership:
  • How has the Partnership engaged funders in the cradle to career vision?
  • What potential funding partners has the Partnership identified to support the operations and collaborative work of the Partnership?

 

The anchor entity is established with two key staffing roles in place: project director and data manager.

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Quality Benchmark:
The anchor entity is established with two key staffing roles in place: project director and data manager.
 
 
Partnership that Exemplifies Quality Benchmark: Raise DC
 
After reviewing previous community partnership efforts in DC, Raise DC came to better understand the importance of an anchor entity to their success and sustainability. The partnership then drafted criteria based on the practices of other cradle- to-career partnerships across the country, and examined the types of anchor entities that support these partnerships. After finalizing their criteria and vetting their options, the Executive Team engaged in follow-up meetings with perspective candidates and field experts. This process allowed the Raise Executive Team to achieve consensus in naming the Community Foundation for the National Capital Region (CFNCR) as the partnership’s anchor.
 
Partnership that Exemplifies Quality Benchmark: Commit!

When Commit! was established as the anchor entity to support the work of building a cradle-to-career partnership in Dallas County, TX, the partnership table prioritized getting the right staffing model in place. Serving as a backbone for hundreds of early childhood providers, 15 school districts, 21 higher education institutes and hundreds of nonprofits, Commit! has an expansive scope and has mobilized a staff to support this scope. Commit! now has a full team of full- and part-time staff, as well as respected community volunteers to supplement paid positions. Up front, the partnership table recognized the importance of having an Executive Director capable of connecting with and convening partners and a Data Analyst who could help build a compelling case for the work.
 
Key Questions for Your Partnership:
  • What organization is playing the role of anchor entity for the Partnership?
  • What evidence is there that the anchor meets the following criteria?
a. Neutrality
b. Systems orientation
c. Convening power
d. Relationship focus
e. Willingness and credibility to stick with the work
f. Commitment to evidence based decision making and continuous improvement
  • What are the roles/responsibilities of the anchor entity?
  • What are the names and titles of staff hired to support the work of the Partnership?
  • What are the job descriptions and FTE for the staffing roles currently in place?

 

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