Pathways to Prosperity Network
The Pathways to Prosperity Network, a collaboration of states, Jobs for the Future, and the Pathways to Prosperity Project at Harvard Graduate School of Education, seeks to ensure that many more youth complete high school and attain a postsecondary credential with currency in the labor market. Each participating state is engaging educators and employers in building a system of grades 9-14 career pathways, combining high school and community college. Such pathways are intended to launch young people into initial careers, while leaving open the prospect of further education.
State and regional stakeholders together lead the work in each Pathways to Prosperity state, focusing initially on two or three regional labor markets. The long-term goal is to create statewide systems of career pathways that serve most students. Key sectors of the economy identified for pathways building across the states include information technology, health care, and advanced manufacturing.
The Pathways to Prosperity Report
The network emerged as a result of the interest generated by the Harvard Graduate School of Education report, Pathways to Prosperity: Meeting the Challenge of Preparing Young Americans for the 21st Century. According to the report, roughly half of all young Americans arrive in their mid-twenties without the skills or labor market credentials essential for success in today’s increasing demanding economy. A reason is the nation’s overreliance on a single four-year college pathway to help young people make the transition from high school to working life. The report calls for an intensive effort from employers, educators, and government and nonprofit leaders to build pathways that link work and learning and are aligned with labor market demand. From this call to action, the state Pathways to Prosperity Network was formed.
The foundational building block of the Pathway to Prosperity Network is a grades 9-14 career pathway integrating high school and college-level work—for example, a career academy or comprehensive program of study that includes all requirements for completion of a high school diploma and a postsecondary credential with value in the labor market.
In 2012, the first six Pathways to Prosperity states gathered regional stakeholders into coalitions to select the initial target regions. Teams from JFF and the Harvard Graduate School of Education carried out as set mapping to assess the readiness of these regions to begin creating 9-14 pathways. In addition, members from all six state stakeholder groups came together for a two-day institute at Harvard to hear from experts and one another about approaches to implementing the Pathways to Prosperity framework, as well as to learn about successful European vocational systems. Based on the institute and the results of the asset mapping, each state developed a work plan using the Pathways to Prosperity framework.
Major challenges of the work include engaging employers and sector organizations with high schools and community colleges. To do so, it is necessary to build intermediary organizations to support collaboration. Intermediary organizations can convene stakeholders and support businesses so that they can provide sustainable learning opportunities for students, advice on curricula, and knowledge about the skills needed in the workplace.
JFF staff provide coaching, pathway design and policy advising, and other forms of technical assistance to state and regional participants in the network on this and other key challenges. JFF and HGSE also analyze, develop, and help advocate for public policies necessary for building and sustaining a system of 9-14 pathways.
- New York
- North Carolina