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As we continue the effort to develop a common nomenclature for this emerging field, this glossary has been created to provide clarity and definition for some commonly-used (and often ambiguous) terms associated with building the cradle to career civic infrastructure. The glossary is provided as a resource for those who are taking on this work in their communities or others seeking to understand the field. In the spirit of continuous improvement, it will remain a work in progress and we look forward to getting your feedback and input as to additional words
that should be defined, examples to go along with the terms, and refinements to the current definition of terms.

The Strive team would like to acknowledge Rick Markoff and the Talent Alliance partnership in Indianapolis for
the idea for the glossary and for getting it started.

Anchor Organization: An anchor organization is one that provides staffing, leadership, and commits to engaging the partnership, specifically supporting members through commitment of resources, convening partners, and contributing to the knowledge base of transforming education.  The anchor organization provides stability to the partnership so that it will continue to thrive over the long term.

 Asset Mapping: The process of identifying and organizing assets and resources available to a community to aid in furthering the work specifically related to focus areas as identified through baseline data of the community.

Asset-Based: An approach that builds on a community’s strengths, resources, and assets rather than its deficiencies or problems.

Baseline Data: Data that describes how the system or process has been operating before any interventions or improvements are made; provides a comparison for improvement efforts.

Benchmarks: Research-based competencies and experiences that act as predictors along the roadmap, including future success along the continuum. For example, reading at grade level at grade four is an important predictor in the Greater Cincinnati community of youth success further on the continuum. Development of the competencies may vary depending on life experiences and demographic factors.

Capacity Building: A people-focused endeavor that is a “process of developing and strengthening the skills, instincts, abilities, processes and resources that organizations and communities need to survive, adapt, and thrive in the fast-changing world.” (Ann Philbin, Capacity Building in Social Justice Organizations, Ford Foundation, 1996)

Civic Infrastructure: The organizational system that is formed within a community to use existing resources to target the needs of every individual child so they have the support they need to succeed along their learning journey.

Collaborative Action: The process by which networks of providers use a continuous improvement process to help them identify evidence-based best practices to improve (and continuously improve) outcomes for students.

Community Engagement: The process by which community organizations and individuals build ongoing, permanent relationships for the purpose of applying a collective vision for the benefit of a community.

Continuous Improvement: The process by which a program is continually being evaluated and improvements are implemented based on data.

Convener: Organization that convenes meetings and handles meeting logistics and documentation; works with coach/facilitator to prepare and plan for meetings; acts as a contributing team member and point of contact between network and stakeholders

 Cradle to Career: A continuum of development from birth to early adulthood during which intentional steps are taken by an individual to prepare oneself for education, work and life success.

 Cross-Sector Partnership: Involving different fields is key to the success of Strive’s partnership framework. The partnership should consist of representatives from key sectors contributing to education improvement such as early childhood education, K-12, higher education, government, business and philanthropy.

 Data Management System: System that aids in the collection, analyzing, and storing of data at both the student and community level.

DMAIC: Acronym for Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, and Continuously Improve. DMAIC is part of the Strive Six Sigma process used to improve an existing process or design a new process.

 Evidence Based Decision Making: The integration of professional wisdom with the best available empirical evidence in making decisions about how to deliver instruction (and/or education services) (from U.S. Department of Education, 2003).

 Executive Leadership: See Partnership

 Focus Areas: Key areas to improve upon in your community, as identified using baseline data.

 Framework: An adaptable structure of work that can and should be tailored and modified to an individual community, while keeping foundational concepts consistent.

 Goal: Point that must be achieved to realize the partnership’s vision. Progress of goals is measured by the indicators.

 Hub and Spokes: Heavily centralized structure in which one central node feeds smaller subsequent spokes.

 Indicators: Measures of achievement. Indicators define the measurement of important and useful information about the performance of a program or initiative. They may be expressed as a percentage, index, rate, ratio, or other numerical measure that permits comparison. Indicators are monitored at regular intervals and are usually compared to one or more criterion.

 Learning Partner Dashboard: A web application which brings together multiple sources of data on students into one place. The goals are to ensure that students are better able to connect to the out-of school programs/services they need, and that schools and partners better understand the impact of services on student learning.

 Mission: The defined purpose of the partnership and the role it plays in achieving success. The mission of the partnership provides direction and guidance for the strategic work. As an example, the mission for the Houston partnership is “to create a civic infrastructure by generating and empowering Regional Cradle-to-Career Councils across greater Houston that are dedicated to realizing the vision of ALL KIDS ALLIANCE.” This mission outlines the purpose of the partnership.

 Networks/ Collaboratives: A Network (used interchangeably with Collaborative) is a group of like providers who work together to achieve a common goal. The network exists to review data; commit to common outcome measures; identify best practices within priority areas; and align, coordinate and leverage resources. By working together, the network can eliminate duplication of services and unnecessary strain on existing resources while still being able to serve the largest number of students with the best services possible.

 Outcome: The change in a program’s participants, or its community’s conditions, that is anticipated as a result of program activities; might include a change in knowledge, attitude, behavior, skills, or condition. Outcomes may be short-term or immediate (the direct result of program activities), or may be intermediate (achieved as a result of other short-term outcomes).

 Partnership: (Also Partnership Table, or Executive Leadership) A group of cross-sector community leaders who come together to support a shared cradle to career education vision in their community.

 Partnership Accountability Structure: Formal and informal agreements among the cradle to career partners around how they will interact with each other, accomplish goals, and improve over time.

 Partnership Agreement: Written and documented roles and shared expectations of the partnership.

 Partnership Implementation Team: A group of cross-sector community leaders who are responsible and accountable for finding creative solutions related to specific Focus Areas. The Partnership Implementation Teams work together to determine the outcomes needed to be measured and an action plan for doing so.

 Partnership Sustainability Plan: A document that demonstrates how the partnership will both financially and operationally sustain itself over time.

 Partnership Table: See Partnership

 Priority Strategies: Priority strategies, as defined within the context of the cradle to career civic infrastructure, are areas of on-the-ground work around which networks of providers are formed.

 Report Card: A report to the community that highlights changes in student outcomes the partnership collects data for annually.

 Roadmap: The Student Roadmap to Success is a foundational document that organizes benchmarks of progress across the education continuum. It also illustrates the cradle to career commitment to education, beginning at birth and progressing through college and career. This roadmap represents the holistic nature of the educational journey, including both academic (above the roadmap) and student and family support (below the roadmap) benchmarks.

 Roles: Continuous Improvement Facilitator: Trained to work with networks of providers around each priority strategy to develop evidence-based continuous improvement action plans. Private sector experience offers value in effectively serving in this role.

 Roles: Data Manager: Will support the collection and management of information and data to support knowledge management and data-driven decision making. Individual will work with key partners to develop a comprehensive accountability system in the community that incorporates data across the educational pipeline from birth through college and including the academic and social-emotional development of children.

 Roles: Director: Will oversee the work of the partnership, including such functions as engagement of partners and management of the appropriate governance structure, identification of community level outcomes and priority strategies to make desired improvements, and the creation of networks around each priority strategy.

 Scale: Identifying practices that have impact and finding creative ways to expand access to these practices using existing and new resources.

 Scope: As it relates to the Cradle to Career Civic Infrastructure, scope is defined as the range or breadth of the partnership (as in geographic or organizational scope).

 Shared Accountability – Differentiated Responsibility: This phrase demonstrates how the members of a cradle to career partnership agree to hold one another accountable for achieving a shared vision, as well as bring their own individual and organizational strengths to the table in working toward that vision. There are many players supporting a common goal of student success, but their roles in achieving that goal are different and unique to their individual strengths and talents.

 Shared Community Vision: A view collectively held by the community that a cradle to career approach frames its work in education improvement.

 Site Readiness Assessment: The Site Readiness Assessment is a tool that Strive uses to help assess where communities are in building cradle to career civic infrastructure. The Assessment helps Strive to not only ensure that we are meeting individual community’s needs, but also helps communities gain a deeper understanding of the Strive Framework for Building Cradle to Career Civic Infrastructure. It is an important first step for communities wishing to join the Strive Cradle to Career Network, as well as those communities who are considering Strive Strategic Assistance.

 Social Innovation Fund: The Social Innovation Fund (SIF) is an initiative of the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) intended to improve the lives of people in low-income communities. It does so by mobilizing public and private resources to grow promising, innovative, community-based solutions that have evidence of compelling impact in three areas of priority need: economic opportunity, healthy futures and youth development.

 STEM: An acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.

 Strategic Assistance: Providing consultation, knowledge, and coaching in areas that are pertinent to creating the cradle to career civic infrastructure in a community based on the community’s needs.

 Strive Network: Across the country, more and more communities are undertaking work that will lead to collective social impact and, specifically, lead to dramatic changes in education systems and structures from cradle to career. If the lessons learned from these efforts are captured and shared, communities will more effectively and expeditiously address the challenges that inevitably emerge when engaging in this transformative work. The Strive Cradle to Career Network has been established to provide the rudder necessary to guide the collective action of communities across the country and grow this movement.

 Strive Six Sigma: An adaptation of General Electric’s Lean Six Sigma model to the social sector to assist service providers in developing evidence based action plans. The steps and tools in Strive Six Sigma help groups of like providers work together toward a common goal to improve student outcomes, avoid duplicating services, make better use of resources, and plan actions that have been shown to be effective based on research and data collection. It provides a common language and a proven process for identifying continuous improvement projects and initiatives.

 Value Exchange: The term is used to describe the relationship between Strive and the Cradle to Career Network. This exchange is comprised of the “gives” and “gets” that both Strive and the members of the Network provide and receive from being a part of the movement.

 Vision: A brief inspirational message that conveys the goal of the partnership. This vision should provide the framework for which all strategic work ultimately aims to accomplish. For Greater Cincinnati, “ensuring success for Every Child, Every Step of the Way, Cradle to Career” is the inspirational vision for the partnership.


{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Adam Fletcher June 10, 2014 at 8:24 pm

Its interesting that there are no youth-related terms here, such as youth voice and youth engagement, which have been so vital to our collective impact work here in western Washington state. Youth development is even missing! Maybe consider adding some of these missing terms to this glossary?


Shanika Lanae Blanton June 8, 2016 at 2:10 pm

This list is great! I would really love it if we could embed the link to your page on our coalition’s website. Do we have permission to share your link?


Kate Westrich Kate Westrich September 2, 2016 at 10:14 am

Absolutely! Please pass on a link to the page whee you add it when it’s live!


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