Provides lessons learned and best practices from the Illinois bridge program through a step-by-step resource guide for adult service providers to create and sustain or improve their own bridge program.

“This guidebook is built on early lessons of bridge programs in Illinois. It is designed as a resource for those who want to develop a new bridge program or strengthen or expand an existing one.

This guidebook is intended for program directors, deans, curriculum developers, instructors, career development staff, and support services staff in adult education, career and technical education, developmental education, occupational training, employment, and social services who may be based at community colleges, community-based organizations, workforce agencies, social service organizations, employer associations, and even individual employers. Public and private funders, four-year colleges, advocacy organizations, elected officials, and others who work with low-skilled adults may also find it useful.... This guidebook is comprehensive and concrete, including basics, strategies, examples, and worksheets. It is organized to help new programs to anticipate essential steps and to help those who need ‘just in time information’ for redesigning a program or improving a particular program element. Recognizing that bridge programs take a long time to develop, get right, and sustain, this guidebook also includes tips for the continuous improvements required to get the right population, adequate funding, best outcomes, and to adapt to changing contexts to sustain the effort.

These ten chapters cover the key steps in a bridge program. Each chapter reviews the importance of the step, critical ‘how to’s,’ and working practices from Illinois programs that illustrate how the steps have been organized and implemented in the field. In addition, it provides references to more detailed guides, publications, and tool kits on particular topics” (p.7-8). (Abstractor: Author)

Major Findings & Recommendations

• “How to build a leadership team: Form the initial leadership team; Develop the leadership team; Recruit additional program partners; Formalize roles, Manage partners” (p.9). • “How to choose a career cluster and career pathway: Assess the need for a bridge program; Effectively link the bridge program to career pathways; Use available information” (p.19). • “How to identify and recruit the target population: Identify a target population to serve; Recruit the target population” (p.28). • “How to assess, place, and advance students: Use available tools to assess skills, competencies, motivation, and interests; Combine tools and results to maximize effectiveness” (p.38). • “How to contextualize a curriculum: Know the key characteristics of an occupationally contextualized curriculum; Develop a contextualized curriculum; Implement a contextualized curriculum; Continuously improve the contextualized curriculum” (p.47). • “How to provide career development services: Know and address the career development needs of adults in a bridge program; Apply the most effective career development activities; Work with partners to provide the essential components of career development” (p.60). • “How to provide transition services: Know what services students need; Identify services the partnership will offer and those that external organization will offer; Deliver transition services effectively” (p.72). • “How to fund a bridge program: Determine the costs of developing and delivering a bridge program; Identify sources of funds for the three main components of a bridge program; Leverage and seamlessly use funding and resources” (p.81). • “How to assess progress and outcomes: Define success; Determine what data to collect, how to collect it, and how to analyze it; Access data and beware of challenges; Use the data” (p.92). • “How to sustain a bridge program: Assess effectiveness, identify improvements, and determine whether it should be expanded; Sustain or expand the bridge program within the institution and partnership; Promote organizational and policy changes that will provide long-term support” (p.103). (Abstractor: Author).