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Community Engagement in Collective Impact: Sustaining Gateway

Posts from Strive - Tue, 2013-09-17 15:36

This is the fifth blog in a six-blog series on community engagement.  To read the first blog, click here. To read the second blog, click here. To read the third blog, click here. To read the fourth blog, click here.

As we continue our series on the crucial role of community engagement in collective impact, it is becoming apparent that while engagement remains important across all the gateways of the Strive Theory of Action, the specific strategies and ways to engage differ greatly.  The strategies for community engagement in the exploring gateway of the Strive Theory of Action, highlighted in the third blog of this series, were around laying the foundation for deep community engagement and mobilization. Community engagement strategies in the emerging gateway, highlighted in the previous blog, start to involve the community more actively in the work and priorities of the partnership.  Community engagement in the sustaining gateway builds off of this action through the involvement of community in solution development and implementation while continuing the flow of communication and awareness.  See below for examples of community engagement, specifically called out in the sustaining gateway of the Strive Theory of Action.

TOA_Definitions_Final2_Page_1

 Community Engagement in the Sustaining Gateway:

-Regularly and consistently informing community: Keeping the community updated on the work of the partnership is important to establish a transparent relationship with the community, as well as to build the necessary awareness of the partnership’s efforts to improve the community-level outcomes. Consistent awareness and understanding of the work of the partnership is necessary, especially with an ultimate goal of community mobilization and ownership around community-level outcomes. Holding community update meetings, sending regular newsletters, or engaging in other awareness campaigns to regularly and consistently inform the community are examples of transactional engagement.

 -Release of the report card: Releasing a report card, similar to the release of a baseline report, provides a great opportunity to engage the community in a conversation around the data for the community-level outcomes and any changes that have occurred from the baseline year data. Additionally, with the release of report cards after the baseline year, the partnership needs to communicate the work it is doing to improve community outcomes through collaborative action networks and community campaigns.  This communication strategy provides a platform to then mobilize the community to take action and plug into the work of the partnership to help improve community-level outcomes. Engaging the community in the release of the report card and community-level outcome data is a form of transactional engagement.

 -Collaborative action feedback loop: Using local data to drive student success through a continuous improvement process is core to the cradle to career approach. One pivotal piece of data that can’t be overlooked is the voice of the customer (or in this case, community members who are impacted by the work). Collaborative Action Networks, groups of appropriate cross-sector practitioners and individuals who organize around a community-level outcome and use a continuous improvement process to develop an action plan with strategies to improve that outcome, often build a community feedback loop into their process to test their data-driven strategies against the voice of those impacted by their work. This feedback loop allows the community to be involved in the decision-making and strategy-setting to improve community-level outcomes, an example of transformational engagement.

 -Mobilizing community to improve outcomes: When data-driven strategies arise to improve community-level outcomes, the mobilization of the community to participate in these strategies can be crucial to success. Different approaches involve the community in different ways, but often a campaign to mobilize the community to take action (like becoming a tutor or a reading volunteer) is launched to involve the community in the improvement of a community-level outcome. The mobilizing of the community to take action can help reinforce the shared accountability of the entire community to improve the community-level outcomes and is an example of transitional engagement.

If you have an example from your own community on how you have effectively engaged the community- we would love to hear of and learn from your experience!

Check back soon for the next community engagement blog about community engagement in the systems change gateway of the Strive Theory of Action!  Also, plan to join us September 25-27th in Dallas for the 2013 Strive Cradle to Career Network Convening where we will be diving into the topic of community engagement in more detail!

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Community Engagement in Collective Impact: Emerging Gateway

Posts from Strive - Thu, 2013-09-12 14:19

This is the fourth blog in a six-blog series on community engagement.  To read the first blog, click here. To read the second blog, click here. To read the third blog, click here.

Community engagement is an integral piece of the cradle to career approach and a theme that is inherent in the work across the Theory of Action.  The strategies for community engagement in the exploring gateway of the Strive Theory of Action, highlighted in the third blog of this series, were specifically around laying the foundation for deep community engagement and mobilization.  The community engagement strategies in the emerging gateway start to involve the community more actively in the work and priorities of the partnership.  See below for examples of community engagement, specifically called out in the emerging gateway of the Strive Theory of Action.

TOA_Definitions_Final2_Page_1

Community Engagement in the Emerging Gateway:

-Release of the baseline report: Publicly reporting on the baseline data for community-level outcomes and indicators presents an important opportunity to engage the community in a conversation around the data and the purpose of the partnership. Moving to a norm where data is used often and effectively in the community requires the first step of being comfortable with the data, of having a basic understanding of it. The release of a baseline report is a great way to initiate and foster that understanding, and it shows the partnership’s commitment to share data with the community. Engaging the community in the release of a baseline report and initiating a conversation around the data is an example of transactional engagement.

-Prioritizing community-level outcomes: Very few partnerships have the capacity and resources to work on improving all outcomes at once, so the prioritization of the outcomes becomes necessary to ensure success. Prioritization is based off of a number of different factors, one of which is community momentum. Understanding the existing community assets and recognizing where momentum already exists in the community helps to determine outcome areas where community support and resources can help drive success faster than in other outcome areas. The prioritization of outcomes is a great way to plug in information gathered from prior engagement efforts and to actively use community voice in the decision-making and direction-setting of the partnership. This is an example of using information gathered through transactional forms of engagement for decision-making and direction-setting of the partnership.

If you have example from your own community on how you have effectively engaged the community- we would love to hear of and learn from your experience!

Check back soon for the next community engagement blog about community engagement in the sustaining gateway of the Strive Theory of Action!  Also, plan to join us September 25-27th in Dallas for the 2013 Strive Cradle to Career Network Convening where we will be diving into the topic of community engagement in more detail!

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Expanding the Pie: Social Impact Bonds

Posts from Strive - Wed, 2013-09-11 14:11

Social Impact Bonds Overview

An emerging approach in the United States to support evidence-based social programs is social impact bonds, which we consider part of the larger impact investing sector. Social impact bonds provide investment capital to fund evidence-based social programs delivered by highly effective providers. In this model, as currently executed, government agencies agree to pay external organizations a pre-arranged sum, and they agree to return the investor’s principle, but only if the funded programs achieve predefined results and presumably create cost savings as well in order to fund the returns.

According to Social Finance, social impact bonds require interventions and programs that are evidence-based, provide sufficient net savings within a time horizon, and are replicable and scalable. Ultimately the financing vehicle attempts to bring new money to address and advance qualifying social outcomes – we consider this an ‘expanding the pie’ strategy and funding to be potentially additive to the work in Strive cradle to career communities.

Using Data to Make Decisions

Presently, we see preliminary alignment between the social impact bond concept and the work that happens in Strive Cradle to Career Communities. The initial component to the social impact bond financing model is the need for rigorous data. As the Strive Theory of Action asks for routine collection and analysis of key data points, we feel comfortable that our more advanced sites could be in a position to provide meaningful outcomes data necessary to support social impact bonds. We would expect that sites that have implemented a comprehensive data system and focused on student-level data would be particularly well-suited in this regard. However, there would be a significant lift to provide data in support of social impact bonds that may extend beyond current data practices in less mature cradle to career sites.

Saving Costs and Supporting Outcomes

The next criteria, demonstration of clear cost savings over a defined time horizon, suggests that the social impact bonds would have to be anchored around very specific and visible transition points in the cradle to career pipeline. Reasonably, we are looking at social outcomes that emerge within two years of intervention and can be affirmatively verified.

For example, for the social impact bond that is supporting early education in Salt Lake City, UT, the social outcome is reducing the number of children who are placed in special or remedial education based on their participation in the Utah High Quality Preschool Program[1]. At the time of their entry into school, investors will know how many students are and are not in special or remedial education and related cost savings to the public can immediately be calculated. In Strive communities, you could see a corollary to students at not only the school entry point but also those entering higher education without the need for remedial coursework and then demonstrate related public costs savings.  As currently constructed, social impact bonds do rely on a cost savings or cost avoidance model though an economic benefit or value creation model could be considerably more compelling to private investors.

Positioning to Scale

Finally, the scalability question for Strive relies heavily on our ability to align communities on a discrete set of materially similar outcomes, and as previously mentioned, have consistent and reliable data to provide the evidence base. As we look across our Network, sites in Sustaining and System Change are more likely candidates for this type of model if only based on their existing data collection processes and evidence-based provider base.

At the Strive Cradle to Career Network Convening in Dallas, TX, we will have some of the nation’s leading experts discussing social impact bonds and their potential application to cradle to career communities during the Lunch Plenary, “Social Impact Bonds: How Civic Infrastructure Helps Sites Get Ready for Creative Financing,” on Thursday, September 26, 2013. In addition to leaders from KnowledgeWorks, the Lumina Foundation, United Way Salt Lake City, and the U.S. Department of Education, executives from both Social Finance and Third Sector Capital Partners will join the conversation. We look forward to exploring this emerging financial model with our sites in a few weeks.


[1] Alden, William. “Goldman Sachs to Finance Early Education Program.” New York Times. 12 June 2013.

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How to Turn the 'College and Career Ready' Mantra into Reality

Posts from NewTech - Tue, 2013-09-10 18:56
You hear it daily -- the mantra "college and career ready."

You hear it daily -- the mantra "college and career ready." What you don't hear is consensus on "what" this looks like and "how" we are going to improve the state of play. Recent news from New York state student assessments confirm what many of us know --most high school graduates are not ready to perform college work.

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How to Turn the 'College and Career Ready' Mantra into Reality

Posts from NewTech - Tue, 2013-09-10 04:18
Posted by Lydia Dobyns on September 10th, 2013
Categories: Blog

Alumni Thank Teachers for “Enduring Understandings”

Posts from NewTech - Fri, 2013-09-06 17:54
Posted by Lydia Dobyns on September 6th, 2013
Categories: Blog

Alumni Thank Teachers for “Enduring Understandings”

Posts from NewTech - Fri, 2013-09-06 17:54
Jolie and Astrid talked about the “bridges they crossed and those they built” and how New Tech helped them be ready for college and career.


With the start of a new academic school year, we thought teachers and directors would like to hear from New Tech alumni as they continue post-secondary journeys.

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Aware, Eligible & Prepared for College

Posts from NewTech - Fri, 2013-09-06 13:54
Posted by Andrew Holly on September 6th, 2013
Categories: Blog

Aware, Eligible & Prepared for College

Posts from NewTech - Fri, 2013-09-06 13:54
As our profession undertakes the task of redefining college readiness, I think the paradigmatic shift will come from broadening our focus from college “eligibility” to a more inclusive definition. One of the most interesting ideas coming out of this week’s College Readiness Assessment (CRA) sessions is the idea that all of our students should be aware, eligible, and prepared for their postsecondary plans-- be it the working world or college. This expanded definition of readiness is important, because as the Michigan example illustrates, college readiness is about a lot more than simply eligibility.As educators, part of our job is certainly to ensure that our students are eligible for their postsecondary plans, but more importantly, we need to help them make informed decisions about where they want to be and what skills they’ll need once they get there.

In an online article posted July 8th, 2013, the Grand Rapids Press (my local paper) reported that nearly 47% of high school graduates in the state of Michigan are taking remedial courses at the college level to get their abilities up to par with their universities’ expectations. In plain English, that means that nearly half of the students in my state are graduating from high school without the fundamental skills (typically in math and reading/writing) that post-secondary institutions are expecting them to have.

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Tweets of the Week #PBLChat

Posts from NewTech - Fri, 2013-09-06 05:00
Posted by Theresa Shafer on September 6th, 2013
Categories: Blog

Tweets of the Week #PBLChat

Posts from NewTech - Fri, 2013-09-06 05:00
We chat each week at 8pm EST via Twitter about project based learning.

During #PBLChat this week we talked about Workshops, how to move them beyond lecture. We had some great student input and great strategies shared by experienced PBLChatters. The archives are here on our Storify channel

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Community Engagement in Collective Impact: Exploring Gateway

Posts from Strive - Thu, 2013-09-05 15:12

This is the third blog in a six-blog series on community engagement.  To read the first blog, click here. To read the second blog, click here.

With the recent launch of the Theory of Action, we have gotten clearer than ever on what building civic infrastructure actually looks like.  The Theory of Action consists of a series of quality benchmarks organized vertically by the four pillars of the Strive Framework: [1] Shared Community Vision, [2] Evidence-based Decision Making, [3] Collaborative Action and [4] Investment and Sustainability; and horizontally by four Gateways: [1] Exploring, [2] Emerging, [3] Sustaining, and [4] Systems Change. The benchmarks serve as a detailed guide for the steps that a community should take in order to build and sustain a partnership that achieves improved cradle to career outcomes.

TOA_Definitions_Final2_Page_1

Community engagement, while called out very intentionally in specific benchmarks, is really a theme that is inherent in the work across the Theory of Action. The ways and strategies to engage the community will look differently depending on the progress of the partnership and the purpose of the engagement, but the intention to involve the community in present in every gateway in the Theory of Action.   See below for where community engagement is specifically called out in the Exploring Gateway.

Community Engagement in the Exploring Gateway:

 -Representation in accountability structure: Designing an accountability structure is a unique opportunity to build community voice into the structure of the partnership. Cradle to career partnerships have incorporated community voice in different ways, such as the intentional inclusion of a community leader at the leadership table. A leadership table is a group of cross-sector executive-level leaders that participate in setting the direction of the partnership. This allows for a representative of the community to be involved in decision-making and strategic direction-setting, a potential form of transformational engagement.

-Informing community about the partnership through ‘call to action’ and ‘messages’: Clarity and consistency are extremely important when trying to communicate and inform the community about this complex work. By developing messages that are understandable by a broad audience and identifying clear ways for the community to plug into the work, the partnership can keep the community adequately informed and engaged. Developing resonating messages and a process for communicating effectively is an example of transactional engagement.

 -Engagement in vision: The community not only needs to be informed of the vision and work of the partnership, but they also need to own it and feel partially accountable for the progress the partnership makes in improving student outcomes. The only way to ensure that this work is supported by the community in this way is to authentically engage the community in the vision and work of the partnership. This has looked differently in communities across the network, but one important lesson to note is that an awareness, understanding, and appreciation of past engagement efforts is key to building an authentic relationship with the community going forward. Setting clear expectations about the role of the partnership (and its limitations) and making sure the engagement is purposeful and actionable are important pieces to building an authentic relationship. Depending on the strategy, engaging the community in the vision and work of the partnership could be a transactional or transitional form of engagement.

If you have example from your own community on how you have effectively engaged the community- we would love to hear of and learn from your experience! 

Check back soon for the next blog in the series, about community engagement in the emerging gateway of the Strive Theory of Action! Also, plan to join us September 25-27th in Dallas for the 2013 Strive Cradle to Career Network Convening where we will be diving into the topic of community engagement in more detail!

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#PBLChat Tweets of the Week

Posts from NewTech - Fri, 2013-08-30 14:21
Posted by Theresa Shafer on August 30th, 2013
Categories: Blog

#PBLChat Tweets of the Week

Posts from NewTech - Fri, 2013-08-30 14:21
Each week we gather via Twitter to discuss aspects of project-based-learning.

This past week for #PBLChat we discussed the physical aspects of space in a classroom that lend themselves to project-based learning.  The archive, complete with some photos, is here. 

Here are a few of our favorite tweets with our hashtag from the past week.

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Community Engagement in Collective Impact: Transactional, Transitional, Transformative

Posts from Strive - Thu, 2013-08-29 13:45

This is the second blog in a 6 blog series on community engagement.  To read the first blog, click here.

It is clear that engagement of the community at all levels is important for the success of a cradle to career partnership, but the ways to effectively engage the different sectors of the community in collective impact work are a little less obvious. To help us think about how engagement looks differently depending on who you are engaging and for what reason, we often refer to the Community Engagement Continuum. This continuum categorizes engagement strategies into three different categories: Transactional, Transitional, and Transformational.

Community_Engagement

Transactional engagement is about informing the community and bringing about awareness of the partnership. It typically involves one-way communication through the dissemination of information and it has the potential to reach a broad audience, however the depth of engagement is very limited. An example of a transactional engagement strategy would be holding a community information meeting to inform the broader community about the work of the Partnership.

Transitional engagement is a more active form of engagement that is about involving the community in activities within the Partnership. This type of engagement typically involves two-way communication; however the Partnership often still determines the purpose which the community is mobilized around. An example of transitional engagement would be a campaign that mobilizes community members to become tutors, a strategy that data shows helps improve 3rd grade reading- a community level outcome.

Transformational engagement is the deepest level of engagement and involves integrating the community into the decision-making and problem-solving of the Partnership. This type of engagement involves equal communication from the community and the Partnership; however the number of people who can be involved in this type of deep engagement is limited. An example of transformational engagement is involving community experts and practitioners in the collaborative action networks to use data and expertise to identify what is working and build strategies to continuously improve the work. Additionally, collaborative action networks often have feedback loops to test whether their identified strategies resonate with community members who are impacted by the work, engaging both community experts and community members in the decision-making, and problem-solving functions of the partnership.

It is important to note that while it is often necessary to build trust and relationships through transactional and transitional engagement strategies before getting to transformational strategies, a combination from across the categories should be considered in building a comprehensive engagement approach.  Since the different categories of engagement include varying levels of depth, reach, and involvement, this combined approach can also provide the necessary flexibility to involve the right individuals, at the right level, for the right purpose.  A major lesson learned in this work has been around making sure the purpose of the engagement is appropriate for the audience and at the appropriate depth.  A partnership would be able to engage a small group of teachers at a much deeper level around curriculum alignment than they would a large group of business leaders around the same subject.

Check back soon for the next community engagement blog about community engagement in the exploring gateway of the Strive Theory of Action!   Also, plan to join us September 25-27th in Dallas for the 2013 Strive Cradle to Career Network Convening where we will be diving into the topic of community engagement in more detail!

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An Agent for Agency (A new term for an enduring idea)

Posts from NewTech - Wed, 2013-08-28 12:35
Posted by Paul Curtis on August 28th, 2013
Categories: Blog

An Agent for Agency (A new term for an enduring idea)

Posts from NewTech - Wed, 2013-08-28 12:35
If we pay attention, we can grow learners who are confident, self-directed, responsible, and eager to learn.

About a year ago, I started to hear a new term being thrown around education circles … agency.  In most dictionaries, agency refers to an organization or entity such as a government agency.  In the world of education we mean it as the capacity of the learner to act as an advocate for their own success.  This includes more concrete things like turning in complete homework on time or doing your best work and less measurable things like persistence, resilience and a growth mindset.

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Tweets of the Week With #PBLChat

Posts from NewTech - Fri, 2013-08-23 14:38
Each week we tweet about project-based learning happening at innovative high schools across the country.

This week's #PBLChat topic was "Co-Teaching & Collaboration". All of this great discussion and the resources shared are archived on our Storify Page .

Don't forget to add any topic you would like to discuss on this doc and don't forget to vote for next week's topic!

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Paying It Forward: Teachers Model a Passion for Learning

Posts from NewTech - Fri, 2013-08-23 13:55
Posted by Lydia Dobyns on August 23rd, 2013
Categories: Blog

Paying It Forward: Teachers Model a Passion for Learning

Posts from NewTech - Fri, 2013-08-23 13:55
Dave was a disengaged 14-year-old. Everything about his world suggested he would fail. He came to class, eyes glazed over, seeing little relevance in school. He was lost.

Dave was a disengaged 14-year-old. Everything about his world suggested he would fail. He came to class, eyes glazed over, seeing little relevance in school. He was lost. That is, until a teacher found ways to reach him. A teacher who helped Dave find his voice and discover purpose and passion.

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