Now and Then: Balancing Quick Wins with Lasting Progress When Working Across Sectors to Change…

Author(s): Alvarado, Marty and Vargas, Joel.

Organizational Author(s): Jobs For the Future

Funding Source: James Irvine Foundation

Resource Availability: Publicly available

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Describes the challenge of balancing short-term accomplishments with long-term goals for sector systems change through the implementation of the Linked Learning Regional Hub strategy, and presents three emerging principles based on the experiences from four Regional Hubs in California.


“[T]he Linked Learning Regional Hubs of Excellence (or `Regional Hubs’) bring together K–12 school districts, postsecondary institutions, workforce intermediaries, employers, and community-based organizations to implement a coordinated Linked Learning strategy. It is a systems change initiative supporting [a] goal to increase the number of low-income youth in California who graduate from high school and achieve a postsecondary credential by age 25.

This brief…focuses on how [the authors] are addressing the difficult need to simultaneously demonstrate short-term progress that encourages continued stakeholder involvement while also taking time to build the capacities and relationships that will truly shift a system in ways that endure” (p.2).

“The Regional Hubs initiative focuses on elevating the scale and quality of Linked Learning. This approach to high school reform, drawn from the strategies and success of career academies and other models, has been steadily demonstrated and evaluated throughout California over the past decade. The approach is especially attractive as a means to achieve outcomes with low-income students who are historically less likely to graduate high school and pursue a postsecondary credential….The Linked Learning approach integrates rigorous academics that meet college-ready standards with sequenced, high-quality career-technical education, work-based learning, and supports to help students stay on track” (p.6).

“Four [California] regions are participating in the initiative: East Bay, Tulare-Kings, Long Beach, and San Bernardino. In each of these `Regional Hubs,’ multiple anchor organizations ([the] grantees) bring together school districts, postsecondary institutions, workforce development organizations, employers, and other public and nonprofit agencies. These networks seek to strengthen existing pathways, create new pathways, and deepen the connectivity of these pathways across institutions and industries” (p.7).

(Abstractor: Author and Website Staff)

Full publication title: Now and Then: Balancing Quick Wins with Lasting Progress When Working Across Sectors to Change Systems

Major Findings & Recommendations

“Success [in cross-sector strategies] requires achievement ‘now’ as well as ’then’:
Short-term outcomes are needed to help partners and potential partners recognize the value of their collaboration, and generate momentum for the work.
Long-term outcomes are needed to achieve the ultimate intent of these partnerships, typically in the form of enduring new networks, processes, and policies that transform the character of a system, improving how it performs and the quality and quantity of what it produces” (p.4).

“[The authors] asked partners to identify the things they saw as barriers to scaling Linked Learning….Multiple topics emerged from this inquiry with most regions reporting many or all of these items as considerations they needed to address” (p.7):
- “Capacity” (p.7).
- “Sustainability” (p.7).
- “Infrastructure” (p.7).
- “Silos” (p.8).
- “Professional Development” (p.8).
- “Commitment” (p.8).

“This content…led to clarity and emphasis on three levers of change that increasingly define the initiative” (p.8):
- “Strengthening leadership — empowering more players to lead development of pathways, including players in education, business, and workforce development
- Developing partnerships — demonstrating the value gained by districts, postsecondary institutions, and businesses that work together to create pathways
- Building systems — developing processes for new collaborative action to create and sustain pathways, and helping partners grow their capacity to fully participate in these collaborations” (p.8).

“[The authors] strove to help [partners] simultaneously pursue—and connect—more immediate gains with more enduring progress in the initiative…and can point to three emerging principles that have value…and may be instructive to others.
(1) Design to include meaningful, easily understood, early wins – connected to ultimate goals
(2) Create a narrative that helps stakeholders understand the work they are seeing
(3) Build a foundation that fits all sectors” (p.9-11).

“In any circumstance, balancing short- and long-term success is aided by collective decision-making and shared understanding….[A]ll involved must agree on the wins being targeted, and those wins must be communicated to stakeholders clearly and frequently. Partners must also know and expect that this work relies on a process of continuous improvement and learning” (p.14).

(Abstractor: Author and Website Staff)

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Views: 107
Publication Date: 2017
Posted: 12/10/2018 9:56 PM
Posted In: Workforce System Strategies
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