United Way Worldwide (UWW) sought to strengthen its efforts to support communities in improving the financial stability of lower-income families and health outcomes for youth and adults. The UWW team identified five focus areas in each effort, but needed to develop strategies and approaches for implementation at the local United Way level.
UWW called on Collaborative’s knowledge and expertise to provide facilitation, research and writing, and strategic planning support for these efforts. We partnered with UWW staff to identify and analyze research on Financial Stability and Health. Based on the research, the Collaborative team developed draft strategies and approaches for UWW to utilize as starting point for strategy sessions. During these strategy sessions, facilitated by Collaborative, the UWW team examined and expanded on Collaborative’s findings. The work also included providing writing and design support for the creation of research reports on the five focus areas in Financial Stability and Health.
Due to Collaborative’s efforts, UWW finalized specific, researched strategies and approaches for five focus areas in Financial Stability and Health. They presented the results of their work to leaders of local United Ways across the country. . The strategies and approaches will be supported by United Way Worldwide for implementation in local communities across the country with the intention being to cut in half the number of lower-income families who are financially unstable and increase by one-third the number of youth and adults who are healthy.
JC Penney Afterschool Fund supported a grant to the United Way of America and the Forum for Youth Investment to help local United Ways undergo community-wide visioning around out-of-school time (OST) using the Ready by 21 Framework. The pilot grant required two local United Ways to participate in community-wide youth development data collection, program mapping, as well as learn new ways to get leaders from all sectors to work together in the community.
This capacity-building money is a boon to local United Ways and can help target and move an agenda for a pressing community need, such as increasing OST supports for children and youth. Although, this work has the potential to be leveraged across all local United Ways only if both United Way of America and Forum for Youth Investment understand the process that both sites embarked on, what worked and what could be improved.
United Way and the Forum asked Collaborative to document the important lessons learned by telling the story of these two local United Ways.
In close collaboration with the United Way of America, the Forum for Youth Investment and the two local sites in Richmond, VA and Kansas City, MO, Collaborative:
Reviewed project materials about the grant, as well as materials from both local sites.
Developed an interview guide to structure the conversation in a way that would help pilot grant leads be reflective and open about the grant and how it impacted their organization and the community.
Identified fourteen individuals (seven in each community) to interview.
Wrote a report that included how the local effort unfolded, successes and challenges experienced, results achieved due to the efforts in each community, and lessons learned for other collaborative efforts.
United Way of America and the Forum for Youth Investment can use this specific feedback about what worked and what needs to be improved to make this partnership and community-level work increasingly successful. As Collaborative began learning about the work from the different sites, we were able to pull themes and common threads to help United Way better understand how its local organizations are situated in communities and able to impact and drive change. Eventually, United Way and the Forum can think about how to replicate this model across the nation, and through this report they have tactical, specific improvements and recommendations for moving the work forward.
Collaborative and the Kettering Foundation wanted to tell the story of the meaningful and widespread engagement in Mobile County, Alabama.
Collaborative worked with the Mobile Area Education Foundation (MAEF) to bring out the deep, meaningful and widespread engagement that took place in Mobile County in the past three years. Furthermore, it wanted to highlight the various historic, civic and cultural conditions in the community that made this engagement possible.
In addition to MAEF, Collaborative met with other key participants including:
Yes We Can campaign
PASSport to Excellence strategic plan for Mobile County public schools
Collaborative's publication work demonstrates how it can actively engage communities to promote education, produce concise and informative products, and disseminate this information-offering examples of how other communities could utilize similar strategies to promote positive change.
The National Forum to Accelerate Middle Grades Reform sought to incorporate the recommendations of the National Mathematics Advisory Panel into their Mathematics Improvement Toolkit, and demonstrate how schools were putting these recommendations into practice.
Collaborative designed interview protocols, focus group guides, and observation rubrics to help facilitate the effectiveness of site visits at the three schools from the National Forum's Schools to Watch program. Once on-site, Collaborative led teams:
Making classroom observations
Interviewing teachers and administrators
Conducting student focus groups
Once the observations were complete, Collaborative assisted with:
Aligning the findings to the Math Panel recommendations
Drafting and editing the case studies
Presenting highlights of promising practices from these schools in a special section of the Mathematics Improvement Toolkit Web site
These case studies outline the achievement gains in schools that have implemented recommendations from the 2008 National Math Panel Report. Through these focused case studies, Collaborative provided real-world context and useful models for schools struggling to improve mathematics achievement in the middle grades.
Each year, teams from each of the National Network of Statewide Afterschool Networks (SAN) are invited to join together to share ideas, resources and strategies for achieving the collective goals of the networks on governance, funding and quality of afterschool programs. The national network meeting fosters cross-network learning with a range of opportunities for small group discussions on targeted topics.
The Mott Foundation-funded networks focus on collaborative learning and knowledge sharing. A need was recognized around helping state networks become leaders in impacting policy development, and becoming a go-to resource for policymakers. Learning to navigate the legislative landscape is challenging and often times, daunting. The meeting provides an opportune time for reflections on the legislative successes and challenges of the statewide afterschool networks.
As part of Collaborative's longstanding role in supporting Mott's work with building SAN's knowledge base, in 2004 we began creating policy reviews that share knowledge and best practices. These reports debut each year at the national network meeting.
In 2008, Collaborative saw a need to go deeper into some of the success stories. With an advisory committee comprised of members of Afterschool Technical Assisstance Collaborative, we:
Managed the identification of the seven networks that we would interview and profile
Sought out the network leads to capture their stories and share lessons for other networks
Surveyed the remaining 31 networks on their legislative accomplishments from 2007-2008, and drafted statements for Developed and wrote a policy review that included the seven case studies and the other legislative successes
Engaged in feedback sessions with the Advisory Committee
Designed an accessible, easy-to-read policy review for widespread use and disseminated it at the January 2009 national network meeting in Tampa, FL.
The National Network of Statewide Afterschool Networks continue to grow and expand their technical expertise and ability to become advocates for afterschool in the policy arena. This resource supports the networks in becoming effective leaders who policymakers will look to when making education and out-of-school time policy. This policy review is one way for networks to continue to stay informed on best practices of fellow states.
The National Academy Foundation (NAF), a national network of career academies whose mission is to support the development of America's youth toward personal and professional success in high school, in higher education and throughout their careers, reached out to Collaborative to take a comprehensive look at the state of career academies and multiple pathways in 29 communities in California, and to make recommendations for potential expansion opportunities.
NAF shared with Collaborative some previous challenges they had experienced with collecting information to inform their expansion decisions. One of the biggest challenges they encountered was that school data and information became quickly outdated because of the constantly changing landscape of multiple pathways and career academies in California. Limited funding also put a cap on the number of communities they could reasonably examine.
Collaborative looked at multiple indicators to identify potential expansion opportunities for NAF academies in California. We examined public education data, interviewed potential partners and identified existing support structures, to gain a clear picture of interest, need and support. We looked at how these indicators intersected and overlapped, to identify potential areas for academy expansion. We synthesized our findings in a written report that "maps" our recommendations.
In response to the need be able to update information and continue to explore new locations, Collaborative created the Community Readiness Assessment Tool, which helps to guide strategic thinking about a community's level of readiness to engage in the career academy approach. By capturing and documenting the process by which data can be used to inform decisions, Collaborative empowered NAF to continue its work in an effective and strategic way.
NAF responded enthusiastically to the value that Collaborative added to this project, and plans to continue to explore how these and other tools might be put into an interactive online format.
The National Academy Foundation (NAF) is an acclaimed national network of high school career academies predominately based in urban districts. These schools-within- schools have rigorous, career-themed curricula created in partnership with current industry and educational expertise. NAF's work has shown that work-based learning opportunities are essential to helping youth succeed as adults in the world of work.
NAF sees high school internships as one component of a continuum of work-based learning experiences, and believes that it should be the pinnacle of years of carefully planned work-based learning opportunities. However, no standards for high school internships existed to clarify the kinds of high quality experiences that youth, school personnel and partners, and employers should aspire to when creating, implementing and evaluating internship experiences. NAF needed a clear document stating the gold standards for high school internships.
Collaborative Communications Group worked with NAF and its partners to create a standards document that would be useful to youth, schools and employers. NAF began the process by convening a Career Academy and Internship Task Force of national experts in work-based learning. Collaborative provided direction on the meeting agenda, materials and purpose; attended and documented the meeting in Oakland, CA; and identified the most relevant themes from the daylong discussion. We also attended a convening of employers in the Los Angeles area and gatherings of educators and intermediaries who deliver work-based learning activities to further test the identified themes.
Our process of creating the standards document included receiving continuous feedback from NAF staff, the Task Force and the field. When a change in scope resulted in the need for a slightly different product, we adeptly changed our approach to deliver a document that would be most useful to the organization in continuing to solicit feedback and funding to obtain support nationwide.
Collaborative produced Preparing Youth for Life: The Gold Standards for High School Internships, a document that lays out the vision for high school internships, and pushes the discussion about how to achieve this vision in practice. NAF is using it as a tool to lead internal and external discussions about expectations for high school internships at all stages of implementation.
This project also helped Collaborative continue to grow our partnership with and knowledge of NAF. We have compiled educational resource maps in New Orleans and Los Angeles, and for the state of California.
The Aspen Institute’s Commission on No Child Left Behind sought to convene people across all sectors to discuss the urgency of education reform in America.
Collaborative was a key partner in the agenda development, writing and design of the program book, and in the research and writing of key background pieces. The Issue Brief, written by Collaborative, paints a vivid picture of the state of education in our nation today—and as the preeminent statement in the program book, it served as the framework for discussions throughout the day of the Summit. Additionally, Collaborative is playing a role in documenting what was discussed in the sessions to push forward ideas into action.
The firm supported the development of Aspen’s National Education Summit in September 2008. Attendees to the Summit included Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings, Chairman and CEO of Accenture Bill Green, District of Columbia Public Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee and New York City Public Schools Chancellor Joel Klein. Further, using its methods of synthesis and analysis, Collaborative will assist The Aspen Institute in ensuring that the momentum following the Summit turns into thoughtful and strategic action.
The Aspen Institute’s Commission on No Child Left Behind asked Collaborative to take the lead in writing, designing, and producing a report that chronicled the work of the Commission.
The Collaborative team produced the Commission's final report and outreach materials, including research, writing, editing and design. We assisted the Commission in redesigning its Web site to align with the release and supported every aspect of communications around the release including media outreach, production of press materials and event logistics. Throughout the year, we also documented all of the Commission's hearings and roundtables and produced reports summarizing the proceedings.
The report was recognized with the 2008 APEX Award for Publication Excellence in the category of One-of-a-kind Custom-Published Publications. The APEX Awards is an annual competition for writers, editors, publication staff and business and nonprofit communicators. Awards are based on excellence in graphic design, editorial content and overall communications effectiveness.
In addition, after the report’s release, Collaborative maintained a key role in supporting the Commission. Collaborative designed a post-release strategy to keep the Commission’s recommendations fresh in the field and to continue to lead the dialogue around the reauthorization of the No Child Left Behind Act. Collaborative provided consulting and support for advocacy strategies such as coalition-building, and on-going communications strategies such as research and regular e-mail alerts.