The StriveTogether 2023 Cradle to Career Network Convening officially commenced as president and CEO Jennifer Blatz shared a bold new goal to put 4 million more young people on a path to economic mobility. The journey of this cradle-to-career movement has always had a North Star — to ensure every young person has every opportunity to succeed from cradle to career. But today, with nearly 650 attendees, Blatz shared the next destination to our North Star and celebrated achievements that have gotten us to this point.
In our last chapter — over the past seven years — we defined what it looks like to transform systems in service of getting better and more equitable outcomes. We committed to measuring and documenting real, tangible improvements in the lives of young people. Now seven communities have achieved the systems transformation gateway in the StriveTogether Theory of ActionTM. What does this mean for young people in these communities?
- In South Salt Lake City, Utah, Promise Partnership of Salt Lake worked with the mayor to establish a city office focused on cradle-to-career efforts.
- In Austin, Texas, E3 Alliance worked to get a policy change that made advanced math classes the default path for all young people, which impacts students across the state.
- In Northfield, Minnesota, Northfield Promise dramatically expanded access to state child care assistance funds — and built an active network of parent advocates.
We can’t put millions more young people on a path to economic mobility without institutionalizing deep systems changes that rewire the way communities work to serve kids and families.
And now, deeper and more audacious work begins. As Blatz said, so often we define goals in terms of what we think is possible instead of what we know is necessary. It is time to reach higher, bolder and bigger — and put more young people on a path to economic mobility. It is possible and it is necessary.
So how are we going to do it?
We’re going to build and strengthen cradle-to-career civic infrastructure in our neighborhoods, in our regions, in our states and across our nation — it’s an approach that requires us to look neighborhood to national. And we have four priorities to help us:
- Strengthen the Cradle to Career Network – we know that the Network is the engine that drives our bold vision.
- Drive policy change at the local, state and federal levels, working to develop, advocate for and implement policy change to transform systems.
- Scale core competencies through the StriveTogether Training Hub — we have already trained more than 1,000 leaders in the network and across the field. Learn more about current Hub offerings here.
- Build awareness, understanding and demand for civic infrastructure to fuel the movement, giving leaders a “reason to believe” and a “reason to act.”
The journey to this North Star is uncharted, but we have bright spots lighting our way. And we’re often asked — what’s the destination? What does it really look like to have more young people on a path to economic mobility that supports them to achieve their dreams? While there are probably a number of things we can’t anticipate, we do know it looks like:
- More children in your community in thriving, safe schools with highly qualified teachers and the resources they need to learn and grow.
- More young people going on to get a credential or college degree.
- Community residents getting prosperous jobs and building stability.
- More families in your community having access to food, shelter and health care.
- More young people in your community not just building their own futures but building the future of their cities, states and nations — with the civic skills, leadership and empowerment to make the world a better place for the next generation
Four million more young people is not a small number — and no one says it will be easy to achieve. But Blatz reminded attendees that it is possible and, in fact, this network can surpass such an audacious vision.
Blatz closed with a powerful call to action. How many young people can you help reach? This vision requires each and every one of us. But those of us on this journey are not alone. We’re here to support one another and we will let our North Star guide us, inspire us and keep us on the path. Together, we’re creating a world where every young person can achieve their dreams.