Strada collaborates with students, policymakers, educators, and employers across the U.S. to strengthen the link between education and opportunity.
We prioritize policies, practices, and programs that help ensure postsecondary education provides equitable pathways to opportunity.
We advance our mission through research, grantmaking, social impact investments, public policy solutions, Strada-supported nonprofit organizations, and strategic initiatives.
This article by Bill DeBaun, Amina Anderson Pringle, and Sara Melnick originally appeared on National College Access Network.
It is clear that our field’s work – assisting low-income, first-generation students with accessing and completing postsecondary education – is profoundly important. What is often unclear, to students and their families, at least, is the career path to which that access and success leads. NCAN, with the generous support of Strada Education Network (formerly USA Funds), is working to inform members on how to connect career success with their access and success services.
The question of “why career success?” is an important one, and it represents a new direction and area for our field. Recall that there was a time when our field more solely focused on college access with just a few practitioners focusing on postsecondary success work; now, NCAN member programs are much more commonly engaged in postsecondary success work. The thinking behind it: Connecting career success to college success helps students better grasp the relationship between their academic pursuits and professional futures, and become more motivated and prepared to apply and matriculate to – and persist and complete at – a postsecondary institution. Students need to understand which careers are out there and of most interest to them, and the corresponding academic requirements. With that knowledge, students can look for relevant internships and other pre-professional experiences and follow a more efficient academic path – in terms of both time and finances – to completion.
NCAN’s annual Spring Training series, which concluded last week, focused on this emerging area of work. Across four cities (Phoenix, Houston, Indianapolis and Providence), attendees learned from field experts on a variety of topics, from implementing career success work in a college access and success program, to better using workforce data, to connecting with local, regional and state stakeholders to create partnerships for career success.
Each training blended consistent programming with more locally focused panels. Joining us in each city were Dr. Mark Schneider of College Measures and the American Institutes of Research, and, depending on the location, either AiLun Ku or Jessica Pliska of the Opportunity Network (an NCAN member also known as OppNet).
Schneider’s presentation focused on workforce data that programs can use to advise students about “hot jobs,” “hot skills,” and “high return on investment (ROI)” positions, as well as workforce projections that predict the need (or lack thereof) for a given occupation. Most states have workforce projections of some kind or another (NCAN is aggregating the state websites here), but the quality, comprehensiveness, and usability vary widely. Schneider’s work with College Measures revolves around setting up state-specific workforce data websites – “Launch My Career,” available in Texas, Tennessee, and Colorado, so far – that connect labor outcomes with postsecondary academic programs and credentials and predict the jobs that will be most-needed.
In addition to providing data around labor outcomes, Schneider also emphasized that sub-baccalaureate degrees can provide a middle-class lifestyle and a stable career. Using data from Texas, he pointed to a number of bachelor’s and even master’s degrees that earn their recipients lower salaries 10 years after completion than the average certificate or associate’s degree does.
“How to Incorporate Career Success Programming Into Your Advising,” the afternoon Spring Training panels guided by OppNet’s Ku and Pliska, revolved around their Career Fluency framework, which emphasizes developing skills and experience in four key areas: college access, transition, and success; professional skills and etiquette; career exposure; and networks and social capital. Within this framework, OppNet helped attendees identify their organization’s assets and strengths as well as something with which they struggle, helping attendees think creatively about a concrete approach to better developing their students’ career fluency.
At each site, OppNet also spotlighted an NCAN member – Be a Leader Foundation (BALF), Genesys Works, Starfish Initiative, or Bottom Line – that could provide practical, replicable insight for programs interested in expanding into career success work.
Bottom Line’s Dave Borgal, for instance, discussed his organization’s move into first college success services and later career success services. Bottom Line uses the DEAL (degree, employability, financial aid, and life) framework to guide students toward successful outcomes. The employability piece is key; Bottom Line helps students find the right career path and develop more functional skills like interviewing, resume and cover letter writing, and networking.
Also, Soilo Felix shared BALF’s college-going curriculum, which starts at grade seven and includes career exploration with two major components. One is Professional Shadow Day, where BALF collaborates with other organizations to give students real-world perspective on what different careers entail. In addition, BALF works closely with Sponsors for Educational Opportunity to identify college students for SEO Career, a professional development and internship program targeting talented Black, Hispanic, and Native American undergrads.
Then there’s Genesys Works, which empowers high school students from challenged backgrounds to achieve college and career success through skills training and meaningful work experiences. Joe Small shared some primary elements of Genesys Works Houston’s program, including the Meaningful Internship Model and skills trainings, whereby the organization provides eight weeks of training during the summer before a student’s senior year of high school. The training includes technical skills in information technology and business operations, as well as professional skills necessary for today’s corporate workplace. The paid, year-long, 20-hours-per-week internships help students further develop and refine these high-demand work skills while providing valued services to corporate partners.
In each Spring Training city, a morning panel focused on “Partnerships to Facilitate College and Career Success,” but content varied to reflect the on-the-ground partnerships that connect higher education, nonprofit, K-12, business, government, and philanthropic stakeholders to pull in the same direction.
In Phoenix, the Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce Foundation and one of their members discussed the Phoenix Forward initiative, which blends public policy and advocacy with workforce and economic development. The initiative has four industry leadership councils that each tie to specific occupational categories: advanced business services (for example, careers in cybersecurity, compliance and risk management, and financial services) transportation and logistics, healthcare, and bioscience. After identifying a pain point in an industry or around an occupation shortage, revealing the reason for the shortage, and developing a strategy to address it, these industry councils then go on to work with partner stakeholders to promote the career and help students move into it successfully.
Russell Johnson, the President and CEO of Merchants Information Solutions, walked through this process of building career pathways – in this case, into cybersecurity. First, an industry council identified 8,400 open cybersecurity positions in Arizona alone (note that these numbers could grow exponentially in the future). Then it worked with the local community college to review curriculum and develop career pathways that would help students qualify for these positions. Employers committed to doubling the number of workforce experiences available to students to further their interest in cybersecurity. Finally, the council developed a website and marketing plan to be a resource hub for those interested in cybersecurity careers.
On to the Lone Star State: In Houston, conversations about career readiness have become more frequent after a 2013 bill required all incoming 9th-graders to select an endorsement (area of study) based on their career interests and academic goals. To that end, our Houston “partnership panel” assembled various stakeholders, including NCAN members Project GRAD Houston and the Center for Houston’s Future, which discussed the role of nonprofit college access and success organizations in promoting career success for students. Insights from those panelists and others, such as a workforce development organization that helps meet employer needs and build individual careers, showed that multiple sectors share the goal of facilitating career exploration to ensure students successfully transition into the local workforce.
That collaborative theme extended to Indianapolis, where Ascend Indiana, the Indiana Youth Institute, EmployIndy, and the Indiana Department of Workforce Development partner to provide workforce projections and inform students, employees, and other stakeholders about career pathways in fields where jobs will be in demand. The audience learned about Ascend Indiana’s work to align future labor market needs with relevant degree or credential opportunities and available talent, and discussed how to help young people identify their passion by exposing them to career opportunities, providing a sense of the jobs available as well as the obtainable skills and credentials to be successful in those jobs. These experiences, along with several state-based simulator tools available online, can help students turn a job into a fulfilling career.
Finally, in Providence, Spring Training attendees heard from a number of experts. First, Rhode Island’s First Gentleman Andy Moffit discussed the importance of college access and success in his own life and highlighted initiatives supported by his wife, Gov. Gina Raimondo. Rhode Island has been a leader in promoting career pathways for students, and the Providence partnership panel brought together K-12 and government entities from a variety of perspectives. For example, the state has greatly expanded access to dual enrollment for high school students, and an Advanced Coursework Network helps students take college or other advanced coursework that their high school may not offer.
As always during the Spring Training series, hearing members’ questions and concerns proved invaluable to the NCAN staff in attendance. Notably, each site had a different “feel” stemming from local contexts and experiences.
We’ll continue to share our work in this area via white papers, webinars, case studies, blog posts, Success Digest articles, and this Spring Training series. NCAN has already produced spotlights through these mediums, including the Career Success Spotlight webinars with members currently engaged in this work. We are compiling a list of career success-related resources on our website and we encourage readers to check back often, as we are always adding to it.
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Report indicates both success and need for improvement in meeting students’ varied goals
A new and improved Free Application for Federal Student Aid expected late this year should provide opportunities for more students and their families to access money to pay for college. Yet the transition to this new form presents unprecedented challenges for those who work to help students complete it.
According to new Strada Education Foundation research, community college attendees who complete an associate degree or successfully transfer to a four-year institution value their education at rates comparable to or higher than recent bachelor’s degree completers. However, researchers found first-generation students rated the value of their community college education about 20 percentage points lower than those who are not first-generation students.
Eloy Ortiz Oakley, president and CEO of College Futures Foundation and former chancellor of the California Community Colleges, will join a Strada Education Foundation webinar Sept. 7, when he and other panelists will explore Strada’s latest report, “The Value of Community Colleges: Recent Students' Motivations and Outcomes,” which captures several factors that motivated recent alumni to enroll in community college.
Major changes in the form, combined with an expected delay in its release, are combining to intensify the work of spreading the word about the updated FAFSA.
This article by Madeline St. Amour originally appeared in Inside Higher Ed.
Virginia’s largest community college and a prominent public research university have co-partnered with an educational management and student support service provider to improve academic outcomes for transfer students.
Edtech integration can cause headaches if technology solutions aren't "getting along"--but a new free tool could help alleviate that pain
New building will house over 500 employees
DXtera Institute, a nonprofit consortium of higher ed institutions, ed tech companies and other postsecondary education professionals, has released a free Next Generation Integration Scorecard (NGIS) aimed at improving technology integration in higher education.
Massachusetts will be the recipient of financial and technical help to build “data-driven approaches” to linking residents to jobs in growing industries, thanks to a partnership between the National Governors Association and the Strada Education Network.
This article by Carol D’Amico originally appeared on RealClear Education.
This article by Jeffrey J. Selingo originally appeared on the Washington Post.
The letter alerting Cal State Northridge students that they were being put on academic probation was pretty blunt and scary: shape up or risk getting kicked out.
Michigan State University has long worked with and competed against other colleges and universities in the United States.
One of the students leaving today on “Roadtrip Indiana” says she expects an “awakening” of what Indiana is about. Purdue University senior Shannon Newerth is joining two other Indiana students on a two-week RV trip throughout the state to take part in career exploration and work-based learning opportunities. The trip, organized in part by the Indiana Commission for Higher Education and several private partners, will be the subject of an upcoming public television documentary.
As a lifelong baseball fan, former high school baseball player, and coach for 20 years, I have always been struck by how deeply intertwined baseball and learning really are. An education advocate for most of my career, I have seen firsthand how a passion for sports can shift mindsets and create sustainable pathways to college, meaningful careers, and inspired lives.
More than half of adults in the U.S. would change at least one aspect of their higher education experience, according to a new survey from Gallup and the Strada Education Network. Common regrets were choice of institution and major or field of study. Comparatively, relatively few regretted their degree type.
A majority of Americans who attended college say they received a quality education. But half would change at least one of these three decisions if they could do it all over again: the type of degree they pursued or their choice of major or institution.
CLEVELAND, Ohio – Half of college graduates regret their choice of school or major, according to a national survey.
Approximately half of all U.S. adults who pursued or completed a postsecondary degree would change at least one aspect of their education experience if they could do it all over again, including their major or field of study, the institution they attended, or the type of degree they obtained.
Regrets, I’ve had a few…and so have most Americans — at least when it comes to decisions they’ve made regarding their education. A new Gallup poll out today finds that 51 percent of Americans would change at least one of their education decisions if they had to do it all over again. Thirty-six percent said they’d choose a different major, 28 percent would attend a different school and 12 percent would pursue a different type of degree, according to the poll.
On May 2, the Senate Career and Technical Education Caucus in conjunction with the Alliance for Excellent Education hosted “College and Career Pathways: Stories of Innovation.” The Alliance is a Washington, D.C.-based advocacy organization focusing on high school redesign for underrepresented students. The briefing revolved around “highlighting innovative approaches across the country to college and career pathways that have led to positive outcomes for traditionally underserved students.”
Data analytics has proven to be a powerful tool in a number of industries, and in higher ed, it has significant potential to help institutions streamline operations and improve experiences for students. But in using that data, colleges and universities must also be careful to also consider the underlying causes behind some of those numbers.
This is important news for admissions officers, who may feel that low-income students pose more of a risk at a four-year college or university. These students are just as capable of thriving as those from more affluent households, but institutions and policymakers must also consider that they may need more resources.
In a Monday morning session at the ASU+GSV Summit in Salt Lake City, a panel of thought leaders discussed how to expand access and success, particularly among low-income, first-generation and underrepresented student populations.
INDIANAPOLIS — Higher Education Commissioner Teresa Lubbers recently announced a new initiative, “Roadtrip Indiana,” that aims to help Hoosier students make more informed decisions about their futures through intentional career exploration and direct engagement with employers across the state.
TPT Global Tech, Inc. (OTCQB: TPTW) announced today it has completed its $1.75M Asset acquisition of SpeedConnect LLC (“SpeedConnect”) and the assumption of certain liabilities. The Asset Purchase Agreement required a deposit of $500,000, paid as part of entering into the Asset Purchase Agreement and an additional $500,000 paid at closing.