Guest post by Becky Hoffman, executive director of Adams County Youth Initiative, a StriveTogether Cradle to Career Network community.
In late 2016 our team and board of directors at Adams County Youth Initiative took some time to gain additional clarity on our mission, to define our role as the backbone and to further develop our internal infrastructure. Equally important, we took some time to craft our goals and focus for the year, which we are now referring to as our 2017 strategic plan.
As I stand at the wheel in terms of the work the ACYI backbone does, I am very keen about the responsibility our team has in not only knowing where we are headed, but in knowing how we are going to get there. Our strategic plan — serving as a succinct and clear road map — provides that direction and frankly makes us better partners on our community’s roadways.
In sitting down to map out strategic priorities for 2017, we started with the end in mind. Our destination is success for EVERY child, in every school, cradle to career (period)!
We unequivocally believe that a key component to a successful community is student achievement. When students succeed, our community succeeds. Why? Because students become our workforce, and it’s no secret that communities that have a talented workforce attract and retain employers. With jobs, income, benefits and more, families are able to live well and contribute to a better quality of life. This IS our true north.
Using the StriveTogether framework, otherwise known as the Theory of Action, our mission is to drive our community to improve key outcomes along every child’s path to education success (cradle-to-career outcome areas) through the development and support of:
- A shared community vision
- Evidence-based decision-making
- Collaborative action
- Investment and sustainability
When students meet benchmarks in each of our cradle-to-career outcome areas, their potential for long-term success greatly increases. Our planned activities for this year start and end with a clear focus on moving the needle in these outcome areas.
Once we clarified our vision, intent and mission, we became very clear about roles related to the ACYI partnership. We know that the only way to move from talk to action is to identify who is responsible for what and hold partners accountable to clear roles. Learning about B/ART, or the boundary of authority, role and task, at a recent StriveTogether results-based leadership workshop helped demonstrate the need for this type of clarity. So that’s just what we did.
The partnership consists of about 75 organizations including five school districts, eight law enforcement agencies, seven cities, two unincorporated communities and a broad range of nonprofits, faith organizations, businesses and philanthropists. Everyone plays a unique role in driving student achievement from cradle to career by leveraging data, community expertise and collaboration using continuous improvement. All of us must:
- Measure what matters. Use key indicators to measure student achievement across our community.
- Identify best practices. Identify practices that create an environment of success.
- Spread what works. Work to help align community resources to spread what works.
The role of ACYI staff is to mobilize the partnership — the collective coalition of stakeholders who have agreed to work together to benefit students throughout the community from cradle to career.
We are set to accomplish well thought-out goals and action items including measurable outcomes that support each of the following strategic priorities:
Shared Community Vision and Communication
- Convene and engage cross sector leaders and partners.
- Engage a broad array of community voices, including the youth voice into our work. We are intently focused on ensuring that our youth are at the table and engaged in every aspect of our partnership.
- Facilitate communication relevant to the partnership.
- Facilitate the collection and use of disaggregated data across the partnership to practice continuous improvement.
- Provide the knowledge, tools and opportunities to enable collaborative action
Investment and Sustainability
- Engage partners, funders and policymakers to support operations and collaborative work.
We are holding steadfast to focusing on our strategic priorities and are excited to continue with this crucial work in the community.
Becky Hoffman is executive director of the Adams County Youth Initiative in Adams County, Co. She leads a collective impact collaborative with over 75 organizations committed to the academic success of over 100,000 students. Hoffman provided key leadership in transitioning ACYI from an unincorporated federally funded grant to a stand-alone nonprofit adopting StriveTogether’s proven national framework.