I know it’s difficult to believe, but the best part of my job in philanthropy is not giving away money. That’s fun, to be sure, but much more rewarding is building relationships and collaborating with Strada Education Network’s grant recipients, creating stronger pathways between education and employment.

That’s why I was pleased to host our grantees in Indianapolis recently for our first-ever grantee forum, to introduce them to each other in hopes of creating a community that learns from, amplifies and builds on each other, and where organizations engaged in education-to-career work are not just competitors seeking funding support, but true collaborators, sharing their best practices, challenges, and successes.

Over two days of presentations and informal networking, Strada’s strategic grantees – including seven new partners who were awarded a collective $8 million earlier this year – met with like-minded colleagues to explore opportunities to collaborate and help more learners of all ages to realize their full potential – in education, in their careers, and in their lives.

Among the participants were the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, the University Innovation Alliance, the Jackie Robinson Foundation, Braven, Paul Quinn College, Jobs for America’s Graduates, Excelencia in Education, the Center for Leadership Development, and Leadership Enterprise for a Diverse America. And of course, we were honored to welcome some of our newest grantees from Bay Path University, Code Nation, Commonwealth Corp. Foundation, Community Education Coalition, George Mason University, Oregon State University, and the San Diego Workforce Partnership.

“The value is to learn from everyone, to bring their ideas home and to adapt them to what we’re doing,” said Peter Callstrom, Chief Employment Officer at the San Diego Workforce Partnership. “It’s a win for everyone.”

Strada is so proud to partner with this growing community of professionals from the education, employer, and workforce development sectors, working hard every day to change people’s lives and build a strong talent pool for the future.

To learn more about our effort to create a community of grantees, watch the video.