Hub Highlights

Linked Learning Regional Hubs of Excellence

Strengthening Communities and Economies through Regional Collaboration

Acting regionally to elevate the scale and adoption of high-quality career pathways—helping more students gain equitable access to this practical, powerful approach.

Marty Alvarado
Senior Director, Learning Communities
617.728.4446 x185
malvarado@jff.org
@mjalvaradoWFD

Hub Highlights

Linked Learning Regional Hub Mid-Year Reporting: Themes and Learning

June 29th, 2017

Reporting. For grantees, this word may conjure images of late nights spent filling out interminable short answer questions in order to meet a compliance deadline. To reinforce the developmental nature of the Linked Learning Regional Hubs of Excellence, for this year’s mid-year reporting Jobs for the Future piloted an alternative approach. Instead of requiring site leads to write a report, JFF facilitated half-day meetings to create space for authentic conversation, reflection and discussion among the anchor team and Hub coaches. We gleaned more comprehensive and nuanced information about the state of each Hub region, and it felt more valuable to the anchor teams in advancing their work than other types of reporting experiences. We hope that the themes that emerged during these meetings will help reinforce the amazing Hub work that is being done by regional partners.

First and foremost, the Hub anchor teams are activating regional networks and changing systems in ways that increase the number and quality of career pathways for students. As these networks become more robust and stable, we learned about the importance of four key messages that surfaced:

  • Moving at the speed of network:  It has been important to move slow enough to coalesce trust and understanding among partners while moving fast enough to not lose momentum and motivation.
     
  • Show your value add, not just your brand: Anchor teams have been successful in making their work explicit to network partners while not focusing too much on brand or organization.
     
  • Leading from behind: People in leadership are the most effective when they are comfortable leading from behind and pushing without driving.
     
  • Capacity for one is capacity for all: In a strong network, as one organization gains capacity the whole network gains capacity as well.

These four themes seem to be leading to more stable networks. And stable networks don’t just exist, they get things done. In terms of successes, every Hub has produced wins in a variety of areas: K-12 districts buying into intermediary support to share learning and resources, postsecondary institutions participating in regional tables, and anchor teams distributing leadership across a diverse array of organizations. However, in each region these wins have been somewhat piecemeal; taking place in some institutions and micro-regions and not others.

We believe that one way to coalesce scattershot wins into systems change is by using the Outcomes Matrix developed by the Hub design team. This tool provides a way to link together individual activities as part of an overall systems change strategy, allowing for better communication and understanding of how the work all fits together. By recording these activities in the Progress Continua, each region continues to document movement towards these outcomes for each other, funders, and the field at large. At the last Hub Learning Institute, we heard several anchor leads remark on how Outcomes Matrix was helping them make sense of the complicated web of initiatives and activities.

Over the next 12 months, we’ll continue to support regional anchor teams in strengthening their networks, learning and iterating on strategies for building partnership, and documenting ongoing systems change. As a developmental initiative, everything we learned from the sites during these mid-year reflection sessions informs and supports our work moving forward. We’d like to thank the anchor teams for their time and insightfulness!

The East Bay Hub’s Developing Workforce Intermediary Network

November 21st, 2016

Work-based learning. It’s where the rubber hits the road for employer engagement in career pathways work, and it’s also one of the most consistently identified focus areas for the Regional Hubs. In this inaugural blog post, we’ll explore the burgeoning Workforce Intermediary network in the East Bay, highlighting the diversity and coordination of the multiple organizations involved and the emerging promising practices for coordinating employer engagement efforts regionally.

The East Bay region is one of the largest and most diverse regions in California. It is home to more than 2.5 million residents with eleven K-12 school districts, three distinct community college districts, two major public universities and industries including information technology, logistics and shipping, healthcare and energy. When it came to building regional support for work-based Learning, the region decided the most effective design for intermediaries would be at a sub-regional level. Three distinct organizations were awarded contracts, via the Career Pathways Trust, to serve as lead WBL intermediaries and convene stakeholders within their area.

Like much of coastal California, the East Bay experiences microclimates, places where the weather changes drastically a few miles away. The various communities of the East Bay are no different. Their makeup is complex, and to meet the needs of each sub-region three unique types of organizations were chosen as the sub-regional Workforce Intermediary Lead. The network is comprised of a community-based organization (The Urban Strategies Council), the Oakland and Alameda County Workforce Development Boards and the Eden Area ROP. Each of these organizations serves as the lead for a sub-regional node, made up of numerous local stakeholders including Chambers of Commerce, K-12 districts and community colleges. As the intermediary network is still well within its first year, it remains to be seen just how the distinct positions and strengths of each organization play out in their respective sub-regions.

In order to leverage the multitude of strengths and connections of each lead intermediary, as well as coordinate and align their efforts on a truly regional scale, the East Bay anchor team began convening the Workforce Intermediary Leads in a monthly Community of Practice meeting in March 2016. These monthly convenings accomplish a number of goals. The leads have an open forum to discuss the various issues they’ve encountered and build solutions rooted in the deep networks they have in their respective sub-regions. Opportunities from interested employers are shared in a way that streamlines engagement and provides resources to the furthest reaches of the region. In addition, special meetings are held on occasion with outside facilitators or consultants that focus on a particular issue or industry sector partnership.  For example, the anchor team facilitated a meet-and-greet between the Workforce Intermediary Leads and Sector Leads (funded through the Slingshot Initiative) to explore opportunities for coordinated efforts.

The community also continues to develop common definitions and processes, especially as it relates to the information flow from teachers to employers and back to teachers. At this point, the WBL intermediaries have strong processes in place to relay the needs of teachers and programs to interested employers. In the future, one goal of the community is to use employer interest and capacity to inform the layout of pathways in schools.

One of the mottos that drive the strategy in the East Bay is a twist on an old saying: ‘Think regionally, act locally.’ By strategically allocating efforts sub-regionally, the East Bay network is able to set WBL intermediaries up with a manageable scope of work will still convening regularly to build a regional identity.