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Adult Public Charter Schools and Career Pathways

Adult Public Charter Schools Discussion: Day 4: Thursday, November 5: Career Pathways

Colleagues,

Today's topic in the Program Management CoP discussion of public adult charter schools is also being posted here in the LINCS Career Pathways Community. Michael Cruse, the Career Pathways CoP Moderator, and I will will check to see that your replies and other comments about career pathways and adult charter schools are posted back to the Program Management Community. So, if you are a member of either CoP you will see today's posts. We look forward to having you join in the discussion.

The thoughtfulness and depth of our guest experts' replies have been terrific. This is a great opportunity for adult education practitioners to understand the potential opportunities and challenges of public adult charter schools. At the end, I will try to summarize the discussion both for those who have been following it, and for others who may be interested.

Some of our guest experts have already mentioned the importance to their public adult charter schools of preparing students for work and careers;  today we will look at that in depth.

Thanks to Michael Cruse and Scott Emerick we have a lot of thoughtful questions today on this important topic.

Today's Questions

Engaging Employer Partners

1. If you have employer partners, in what ways are you engaging them to review and proactively contribute to your work with your students?

2. What specific strategies have worked to improve the meaningfulness and usefulness of these partnerships for employers, your charter school and for students?

3. What unique opportunities do you think adult charter schools can provide for engaging employer partners?

Working with Workforce Investment and Opportunity Act (WIOA) Funding

4. If your adult charter school provides work-based learning opportunities for your learners, what has been your experience in working with Workforce Investment Boards (WIBs) to leverage WIA/WIOA dollars to support these opportunities?

5. Have you found specific outreach or partnership approaches particularly useful in working with your local WIB to use WIOA funds in support of your learners?

6. Do you think adult charter schools have particular advantages in leveraging WIOA funding? If so, please share what you think they are.

Contextual Learning 

Contextual(ized) learning may include: sector knowledge, technical job skills, and basic skills. Sometimes it means teaching basic skills in a work-related learning context rather that in the abstract. 

7. Does your adult charter school use contextualized curriculum or other contextual approaches? If so please describe them.

8. How does your adult charter school find the right balance of these basic skills, contextual sector knowledge, and technical skills at the right time for learners?

9. What advantages, if any, do you think adult charter schools may have in developing work-contextualized learning opportunities?

Norms, Routines and Cultural Reinforcement between the classroom and job site. An important place to start for many adult charter schools is working toward more consistent norms, routines, and culture across classrooms and job sites.

10. If you are doing this, in what ways are you connecting norms and rituals for academic and work-based learning?

11. How are these connections and consistent cultures influencing student readiness, for example for work or for post-secondary education?

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David J. Rosen

Moderator, Program Management CoP

djrosen123@gmail.com

Comments

Michael Cruse's picture
One hundred

Colleagues,

If you haven't had the chance yet, please join the Career Pathways conversation going on today in the Program Management Community.  

Scott Emerick, Senior Vice President of Education, Career, & Service Pathways at YouthBuild USA, is sharing his experience with engaging employers and community partners.  Read the intro of Scott's comments below, and join the conversation in Program Management.

YouthBuild believes this is really important and promising work, but it also entails lots of challenges. It's relatively easy for an employer to express dismay over the readiness levels of workers/young people coming into their sector or company. And relatively common for employers to express rhetorical interest in being part of the solution. But usually proves really difficult to meaningfully engage employer partners over the long term in ways that are really helpful for both sides of the partnership - the school and the employer/company.

What are your thoughts and experiences with engaging and recognizing employers and community partners?  Share these ideas with us, and learn more about two national initiatives to recognize your program's partners.

Best,

Mike Cruse

 

 

 

David J. Rosen's picture
One hundred

Thanks David, I'm starting with a response on the employer engagement questions from your post.

YouthBuild believes this is really important and promising work, but it also entails lots of challenges. It's relatively easy for an employer to express dismay over the readiness levels of workers/young people coming into their sector or company. And relatively common for employers to express rhetorical interest in being part of the solution. But usually proves really difficult to meaningfully engage employer partners over the long term in ways that are really helpful for both sides of the partnership - the school and the employer/company.

Some YouthBuild programs have found success in starting the partnership at a lower bar of engagement and extending the continuum of engagement over time. A simple, low-risk, low-time, and limited resource ask that evolves over time to include more engagement with more partners from the company has proven effective. This evolution might include an invitation for a site visit to get to know the school, students and staff; an invitation to attend and celebrate graduation; an invitation to view a student portfolio demonstration; an invitation to participate in a community service event; an invitation to serve on a workforce advisory board; an invitation to serve as a mentor for a student; an invitation to serve on the Board; an invitation for engagement in contributing to curriculum / training review & development; and a full-fledged internship-hiring relationship.

Employer partners are often excited by the hands-on nature of our career development approach and inherently understand the value of on-the-job learning. We often ask partners to describe or share (when allowable) the training approaches they use with entry level works. And we offer the opportunity to co-construct curriculum-training models that combine the technical expertise they bring to the partnership with the youth development expertise that YouthBuild represents. The employer partner understands the specific skill requirements for their career pathways better than we do. And we understand how to support, empower, counsel, and develop young leaders that have experienced severe trauma. Employers are increasingly recognizing that the Opportunity Youth we enroll in our schools represents an increasingly large share of their customer base and potentially their employee base. So understanding the supports and engagement strategies we use in our schools benefits their corporate bottom line.

This work has proven particularly effective in our partnership with Starbucks that Simran mentioned in one of her posts earlier this week. Starbucks has provided us with access to world-class customer service training they use with their partners (employees) around the globe. And YouthBuild has been able to infuse our leadership development approach, community service model, and student support/engagement strategies throughout the curriculum. More details on this partnership and the Customer Service Excellence Training approach are described in a recent blog post I did on CTE pathways:
https://www.noodle.com/articles/what-to-look-for-in-career-and-technical-education-programs

Lastly, a big part of this work is how we recognize and celebrate the contributions of employer and community partners for their work. In additional to the ways that local programs and staff/students appreciate individual corporate volunteers and partners, it is also useful to connect employer partners to a broader collective movement of their peers. Two of the more effective national movements engaging and recognizing corporate partners for their support of Opportunity Youth are Grads of Life: http://gradsoflife.org/ and the 100,000 Opportunities Initiative: http://www.100kopportunities.org/

Scott Emerick

YouthBuild USA

 

David J. Rosen's picture
One hundred
Michael Cruse's picture

Michael Cruse

November 5, 2015 - 7:13pm

Hi, Scott -

Thanks for sharing your experience with establishing employer/community partnerships.  The idea of "starting the partnership at a lower bar of engagement and extending the continuum of engagement over time" is one that I think many programs may benefit from exploring.  Also, thanks for sharing The Grads of Life and 100,000 Opportunities Initiative, as resources for recognizing and celebrating these partnerships.  Each one has good, general information about mission on their website.  I'm wondering if you can tell us what you see as the difference between the two organizations?  Does YB work with both, or is there a preference for each site to choose only one to work with for their programs?  

I'm also interested in what other local and regional resources you see as good opportunities for recognizing these partnerships?  Does YB work with local Workforce Investment Boards, or Chambers of Commerce, to recognize partners?  If so, what has worked to engage these organizations in supporting these efforts?

Thanks,

Mike Cruse

David J. Rosen's picture
One hundred

November 5, 2015 - 3:06pm

Hi Mike, good questions.

I encourage folks to check out both Grads of Life and the 100,000 Opportunities Initiative. The Grads of Life effort has a few more regional employers and small-medium sized business partners. Most of the 100K Initiative partners are large national corporate partners. Both efforts are focusing on Opportunity Youth who enroll in schools like those participating in this discussion. The 100K Opportunities Initiative is also more employer focused, with a few emerging launch events in cities of interest where schools and programs can participate in job fairs. The Grads of Life effort actually allows schools / CBO's to sign up for their partner directory: http://gradsoflife.org/get-involved/partner-application/

From here, schools and CBO's can be linked with employer partners in their community who are participating in the campaign.

The question about working with local workforce development boards, or chambers of commerce to recognize employer partners is also a good one, but I would hesitate to make many generalizations about those relationships from the national perspective. Each of those engagement strategies is so driven by local context and relationships that it looks fairly different in each of the 260 US communities where we operate.

This also relates to one of David's initial questions re: access to WIOA dollars through relationships with Workforce Investment Boards (WIB's). In some instances, we have YouthBuild programs with amazing working relationships with their WIB's. And when WIOA was passed, the increased focus on Opportunity Youth was a great way to deepen the partnership and extend funding for YouthBuild career development efforts. So you have some YB programs receiving WIOA funds from WIB's to cover costs (stipends) for the time YB students spend on job sites. In other communities, WIB's have longstanding relationships with a range of agencies and breaking into a funding relationship with a WIB to access WIOA funds is proving difficult, even with the increased focus on Opportunity Youth. At end end of a conversation re: WIOA with YB directors last week, we came to the conclusion that if you understood the relationship between a WIB and a YB program in 1 community, that you really only understand and know 1 relationship, because the work is so inherently relational and different from community to community.

I imagine that others in the discussion forum have great insights re: their local strategies for and successes/challenges working with their local WIB's?

Scott Emerick

YouthBuild USA

 

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