Capacity Building for Rural Data-Driven Education and Career Partnerships

MARY RAUNER: Okay. So, good morning. My name is Mary Rauner and I want to thank
you all, first of all, for joining us today. This webinar and our associated work with
teams from across community sectors in rural California is conducted through the Regional
Educational Laboratory West or REL West, and it’s funded by the Institute for Education
Sciences, which is a division of the U.S. Department of Education. The REL West, or the Regional Educational
Laboratory West, is one of 10 regional labs in the REL network that spans the whole country. Our lab, REL West, serves four states: Arizona,
California, Nevada, and Utah. And our overarching goal is to support the
use of high-quality data and research in order to improve academic outcomes for students. Next slide, please. So, REL West’s work is organized into nine
partnerships. Our partnership is called the California Rural
Partnerships Alliance, or the CRP Alliance, and I’m the lead for that alliance. And in our work, we provide research and technical
assistance to cross-sector partnerships that focus on education and career in rural and
rural-serving California. And we help them identify, gather, share,
and use data to make informed programming and policy decisions. Next slide, please. So, in today’s webinar, we’ll take some time
to review the research about the ways in which regional partnerships engage in cross-sector
data collaboration, we’ll identify strategies and processes for collaborating around engaging
with data, and we’ll highlight some tools that can help facilitate the process. So with that, I’ll turn this over to Mara
Lockowandt who will summarize some of the research that guides this work. MARA LOCKOWANDT: I’m very excited to be on
this webinar today with all of you and really excited to share some of the innovative strategies
that are coming out of the work happening in our rural California communities around
cross-sector data use. Before we hear from our two presenters today
that are really going to share their lessons and strategies that they’ve been successful
at and where they’re at in terms of kind of moving forward with these best practices,
I just wanted to ground our session today in a little bit around the research that has
kind of been underpinning a lot of the work that we have been doing as part of this project. So, the first piece of research I just wanted
to point to is something’s that’s really helped inform a lot of our work within our rural
communities here in California. From the onset of this project, we have been
really interested in not only kind of the nitty-gritty technical ways in which rural
and rural-serving consortia are working together to better use data to inform decisionmaking,
as Mary was discussing, but also around the skills, capacities, and mindsets of leaders
that are really integral to the success of this cross-sector work. And for those of you who aren’t aware, there’s
some really exciting research around networks for social change, and this article that we
have on the screen right now is from an article called “Four Network Principles for Collaboration
Success,” and it really goes into four rather counter-intuitive principles that have been
deemed to be really important in the ways in which cross-sector leaders can really advance
significant change in their region. And this work is really rooted in over a decade
worth of research with nonprofit leaders. And the four key principles are here on the
slide now summarizing this way to…coming out of this work is really to focus on this
idea of focusing the cross-sector work on a mission before individual organizations. And this is really looking at the way in which
successful cross-sector leaders might in some ways be doing counter-intuitive action in
terms of forsaking organizational gains for a greater mission and impact. And so, what’s coming out of this research
is that this really kind of has significant implications for cross-sector work. In the short term, organizations have had
to shift from focusing on their program expansion or scaling or replication of services to really
investing in their peers and really investing in a network that’s driving towards a shared
mission. So, this is one of the kind of mindsets that
this research points to, it being really critical for the cross-sector and kind of collective
impact idea that was happening with the nonprofit interviewed for this work. The other big principle that’s discussed in
this paper is the idea of manage through trust, not control. And this gets to the idea that sometimes when
folks are trying to gather cross-sector people to come together, partners might be showing
up at the table for the wrong reasons. They might be there because a funder has asked
them to go or they feel compelled due to the dynamics in the region. But, really, this kind of principle is getting
at the idea that more successful cross-sector work comes from when partners show up because
they have an affinity towards working together and towards this shared mission. Another principle here is the idea of promoting
others and not yourself. And this gets at the idea that individual
organizations are all individually critical, but, really, a lot of the work within cross-sector
success is around how each organization works together and how they see each other as all
integral pieces, and that each of them bring their own strengths and that the health of
the overall cross-sector work is dependent on continuing to build and nurture and support
and empower your partners that are within this larger effort. And that kind of gets us into the fourth principle
that’s outlined in this particular paper, which is around this idea of building constellations,
not stars, which I really love the imagery around and have found it to be really, again,
very, very true to what we’re learning in the work that we’ve been doing here in California
around this idea that it’s not all necessarily about your organization and it being spotlighted,
but really that your organization is one of many nodes, it’s within a larger constellation
of efforts that’s happening here, and that by leveraging resources, the whole kind of
cross-sector work can kind of move and advance beyond what any one individual organization
might be able to reach. The other piece of work that we just wanted
to bring into the conversation today–and there are so many relevant pieces of work here,
but this one gets more at some of the steps and processes that we have in terms of the
research that’s underpinned our work here in California and also that we have found
to be insightful and helpful as we are learning from our partners in the field. And this comes from a report from the OMG
Center for Collaborative Learning, which is part of Equal Measure. And this report came out in 2013 and it was
the culmination of a three-year research report funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. And they were really looking at tools and
processes around supporting multi-sector strategies around student postsecondary success and completion. But when we engaged with this research and
started to test it out in broader context, we learned that a lot of the tools and processes
here are not just about postsecondary completion and not just relevant for postsecondary partners
and cross-sector work, but some of those process steps have been really helpful in kind of
larger cross-sector work, getting at goals that integrate both K–12, postsecondary, and
workforce partners. And so, we’ve put some of the data sets and
activities that are indicated in this report on the slide, and so as you can see, working
together is listed here in terms of step number one. These are in a linear order, but there’s a
lot of weaving back and forth between some of these and we’re going to hear a little
bit more about how that looks in operation later from our partners. But the working together idea is really about
how your cross-sector partners are coming together to establish data sharing agreements,
developing data warehouses or data lakes if that’s the direction that your consortia is
taking. The development and assignment of roles and
responsibilities in this work is really critical. Another step here is really setting the goals
and data strategies, and that is really critical in order to narrow the work and ensure you’re
all kind of working towards shared outcomes, shared intentions, and beginning with that
selection of a research question to drive the work. It also refers to the identifying of partnership
goals, the milestones and ways in which you might measure progress, the strategies for
qualitative data collection-should you be including that in your data work? So, that’s kind of the definition of that
data step. The next step there is really around the collecting,
aggregating, and analyzing the data. It’s bucketed all there under one bullet,
but for all of us working in the field knows that there’s a lot of activity and a lot of
thoughtfulness that’s required around that. The idea of determining common definitions
of quantitative data variables, that’s a really big piece, especially in California where
our different dashboards don’t all have the same data definitions. The alignment of your data collection and
reporting timelines-so being really clear about that. The extraction of data, the cleaning of data,
report development and refinement-a really important kind of data step there. And then, next, engaging in data inquiry and
interpretation. This is a really exciting piece of it. It’s like, once we have the data, what are
we doing with it? So, this is really in terms of the steps of
a cross-sector collaborative around sharing the data report, discussing the data results
and factors that might be underlying trends, so starting to kind of look for those patterns. Sharing the findings both internally and also
externally with communicating messages and results. So, once you have your shared internal discussions,
refinement, it’s the external communication there to broader stakeholder groups in your
region. So, these are the steps that are outlined
in this report that we find really helpful, not only in thinking about postsecondary success
but cross-sector data work in general. So, happy to talk more about that later, but
I want to make sure we move on now to hear from some of our partners. So, these two pieces of research has underpinned
a lot of our work, have helped in supporting our rural partners think about their own strategies
and moving forward, but now we really want to turn it over to them. So, I’m going to introduce my colleague Alice
Rice here, who’s going to tee off our presenters. Thank you. ALICE RICE: Great. Thanks so much, Mara. Hi, everyone. I’m Alice, another REL West staff. I now have the privilege of introducing the
first of our two regional partners, Tim Gill, who is the director of Student Support Services
at Kelseyville Unified School District. He’s going to be talking about securing regional
buy-in for cross-sector work. Tim? TIM GILL: Hi. Good afternoon, everyone. Alice, can everybody hear me? Am I unmuted? ALICE RICE: Yes, we can hear you. TIM GILL: Okay, good. So, hi. I’m Tim Gill from Kelseyville Unified School
District in Lake County, California. To be honest, I’m reading through where everybody’s
from and what everybody does that’s on this webinar; it’s a pretty impressive group. I’ll try to do my best to give you a good
sense of what’s happening in our little neck of the woods. So, Kelseyville Unified School District is
a small rural school district. We have about 1,700 students, kindergarten
through 12th grade. Our North Lake Education Partnership is actually
three school districts in the northern part of Lake County, along with the Mendocino Community
College. So, Mendocino Community College is actually
located in the adjacent county in Mendocino County, and then they have a small satellite
campus in our northern part of Lake County. So, it’s basically four institutions that
have come together to form the North Lake Education Partnership. Like probably most small rural districts,
we are in an area that basically has zero large industry. We’re an agriculture-based community and all
of our agriculture is really the small family farm kind of agriculture. We don’t have big ag corporations that are
doing the work here. We have little to no industrial manufacturing. The largest employers in the county are the
school districts and the county government and the hospitals. So, a little bit on our demographics. Here, about 90 percent of our students qualify
for free or reduced lunch, and we’re about 45 percent Hispanic/Latino, 45 percent White,
and then another about 8 percent Native American, and then a few students from other ethnicities. So as such, like my high school in Kelseyville,
500 students, we have about 125 kids in each graduating class. So, those of you who are working in or associated
with small school districts know that that limits the number of programs and the scope
of the programs that you can offer sometimes. As far as this type of work that the North
Lake Education Partnership is engaged in, I did want to mention before I talk about
now, that we’ve tried this before and we’ve been unsuccessful twice before. And in looking at lessons learned and securing
that regional buy-in for cross-sector data work, we came into this with some lessons
learned from previous unsuccessful attempts. And looking at the slides that Mara was presenting,
the one bullet point that really resonates with me in the work we’ve tried to do here
before is that we always tried to go right to the organizing what we were going to do
before we actually went through any type of visioning process. So, we were incredibly fortunate this time
around. We were really motivated by changes in the
California accountability system and the emphasis that was being placed on career technical
education pathways and dual enrollment coursework for high school students. We were really motivated by that to get some
kind of effort going around working with our local community college. I should also say that we don’t have a four-year
university within about 120 miles of where we’re at, so for us, “institution of higher
ed” means our local community college. We were really fortunate this time that a
woman named Judy Canabal became the interim dean, and is now the dean of Mendocino College
Lake Campus. And we went to her and said, “Judy, we would
like to get this started again. Would you be interested?” And not only was she interested, she jumped
in with both feet and really led us down this path of developing the shared agenda, mission,
and vision for our consortia. And then along the way, the folks from REL
West, Alice and Mara, came and have really done an incredible job of helping us focus
on this important part of securing the regional buy-in. And Mara and Alice and Judy can tell you that
the folks from the districts, when we go to our meetings, we want to jump into the nuts
and bolts of what we’re trying to do. Who’s going to teach this class? How many hours does it have to be? I mean, the really getting down to the operational
aspects, and they kept dragging us back and dragging us back around this idea that, hey,
if this is going to be successful, you guys are going to have to develop a shared agenda,
mission, and vision. So, Alice, could you go to the next slide? So, they introduced us to the process enneagram,
and I’m sure that most of you are familiar with this, but that thing at the top there,
the current identity, this was critically important for us to go through this process
of actually being honest with ourselves and with each other about what was the state of
our current programs. Because when we really had those conversations
and we were able to say, “You know, we really don’t have a good handle on how to collect
the data that we need to drive this to work,” and being honest about that, being honest
about the fact that we had career technical education pathways at our high schools but
they didn’t go anywhere after high school. We didn’t have any type of articulated agreements
with our local community college. We had to be honest with ourselves around
the idea that we were offering programs based on people that we had, not offering programs
on what the workforce data says that we needed to offer. And, again, small school. My high school has less than 30 certificated
teachers. That does put some constraints on what you
can do. But this idea of really identifying your current
identity, where we’re at right now. And then you can see some of the other things
there. We’ve really spent a lot of time around the
idea of “What do we want to create, what do we want to achieve, what do we want this to
look like five years from now?” And we, through this process, came up with
a vision that says that really what we wanted was a connected and coordinated community
college and high school system in North Lake County, and that in the coordinated 9–14 system,
K–12 and community college districts will work together to provide integrated support
to students as they move from self-directed discovery and career exploration through their
individually tailored pathways to college and/or career success. And once we went through this whole process
with the enneagram, it has really brought things into focus. Down on the bottom down there, relationships. I think Mara and Alice have been involved
for about a year, and I’ve been involved with the person at our community college for about
a year and a half, and even in that year and a half we’ve had some people at the other
districts, and even in my own district, key players who have left and new players came
in. So, we’re constantly having to revisit the
relationship part of this work to make sure that the key players from all of the organizations
are buying into the process. And if I’m being honest about it, we’re just in the really beginning stages. When you think about, where do we want to
be five years from now? We’re asking that question now and looking
at a five-year process. But I can tell you, just from my own little
school district here, we’ve gone from offering no dual enrollment courses to, I think, this
fall we’re going to be offering seven dual enrollment courses. In the past, we had zero articulated career
technical education pathways with our community college. We’re just in the process of…my school board
is approving an agreement that establishes at least three, and we’re working toward five
articulated career pathways with our community college that result in some kind of industry-recognized
certification. And when I talk about how important it is
for us to do this work, about 80 percent of the students from my high school go to this
particular community college because it’s right here and the kids don’t have to go away. So, I think, Alice, I’ll move on to the next
slide. I think I got about two more minutes. Okay. So, this is just an example of the SMART goal
process I’m sure that you’re all familiar with. You can see there, if you can read it–create
and implement the way to track students from pathway entry into employment. So, we have lots of a variety of grant opportunities
through the state for funds for this kind of work, but they all ask for this kind of data. And right now, I mean, we’re closer to getting
there now than we were a year ago. A year ago, we had no way to track this kind
of data. So, once we were able to identify exactly
what we wanted as far as data goes, then we’ve been able to make some strides in collecting
that data. And then the last slide. Yeah. And then this whole idea that…so sometimes
you can get started down a path and it looks really great and then for some reason it falls
apart. And this idea that the communication strategy
that we’re using to not only increase the buy-in but make sure that we’re not losing
track of why we’re here. So, every meeting we have, we start with the
review of the vision and the mission of our group. And I have to just say that our community
college partner, Judy Canabal, has just been awesome in keeping us on track and keeping
us focused on the work, and working with REL West on having outside experts that can come
in with a fresh set of eyes and apply their expertise to keeping the work focused. I’ve been in education for almost 30 years–again,
this is my third attempt at this kind of work, and this time it’s happening, and it’s just
been outstanding, and I can’t wait to see where we go from here. ALICE RICE: Thanks so much, Tim. So many great lessons. We really appreciate you sharing out. Next we’ll be going to our second regional
leader, Joy Soares. She is the director of College and Career
for the Tulare County Office of Education; she is also the regional convener of Tulare
Kings College and Career Collaborative. Joy, can you hear us? JOY SOARES: I can. Can you hear me? ALICE RICE: Yes. Wonderful. JOY SOARES: Okay. Fantastic. Tim, congratulations. So inspired listening to your story about
your journey and your honesty, and I just want to echo so many of the things that you’ve
shared. This is very challenging work, it’s very messy
work, but it is by far the most rewarding work I’ve ever been a part of. Thank you for the introduction, Alice. And just for…just a very quick context builder. I came from industry, 15 years with a major
food company when I left as a vice president of marketing, and it was because I got involved
with career pathways on an advisory board and I wanted to just get involved in education
and change the world, right? So, here I am, except I am not a star by any
means, I’m definitely one small star in this constellation of the Tulare Kings College
and Career Collaborative. And I know a couple of my colleagues are on
here. Mike, Ken, good to have you online with us. And I just want to echo what Mara shared in
the beginning about really looking to the research about driving principles for this
cross-sector leadership. I really want to encourage anybody that’s
on the line to take some time and read the article that was shared. This has really been something that we’ve
embraced in Tulare Kings. The Four Driving Principles for Cross-Sector
Leaders–it’s something that we do believe in, and I’m so glad Mara brought that up because
it is sort of embedded in a little bit of this presentation. So, very quickly, the Tulare Kings College
and Career Collaborative, which is convened by the Tulare County Office of Education. We are a cross-sector collaborative, and our
partners are 11 school districts, 3 community colleges, 1 CSU, which is about 40 minutes
away, and 1 UC, which is about 90 minutes away: UC Merced and CSU Fresno. And then our two workforce investment boards,
Tulare County and Kings County, are very involved in this work. Tim, five years ago my story was very similar
to yours, and when I say “my” I mean our story at Tulare Kings College and Career Collaborative. We had some very successful college and career
connections made in the county and like in these pockets of excellence, if you will,
some career pathways in a particular district, and some work-based learning going on in another,
and it was really exciting. But I think what happened in our region, which
is primarily driven by our three major industry sectors–number one being ag, and also health,
manufacturing, and education is also a priority sector–we were a recipient of a CCPT, a
California Career Pathways Trust grant, a 15 million dollar grant, and it really propelled
what we did. And within that grant, we brought these school
districts together and we started learning and improving together, and we had to collect
some data and it was difficult. Then we also were fortunate enough to say,
hey, CCPT 2 came out. One of our districts applied and we all went
into that grant, most of us went into that grant, so we braided those funds. And then we were a regional hub of excellence
with Jobs for the Future, and we braided that work with the CCPT 2 grant. And it was because of the Jobs for the Future
regional hub of excellence support, technical support from Jobs for the Future, that really
had us focusing on this cross-sector leadership. So, I want to go back to something that Tim
said, and I would say, if anybody asked me, “Joy, as a leader, what is something that
really, really changed the trajectory of your partnerships, your collaborative?” And Tim hit the nail on the head. He mentioned Judy, his champion. Judy was the champion, and Tim, well said,
because it’s those partnerships and relationships. And what I feel so fortunate about is after
five years in this work, I can honestly tell you that we have a champion in every single
sector and we have multiple champions in these sectors, and that is really what is driving
the work. We have over 650 business partners, and that
wasn’t always the case. But people want great things to happen for
kids and they know that education needs support, and they also know they can’t fill the jobs
in their region because the students that are coming to them do not have the skills
that are needed. So, these partnerships are moving and growing. Getting high-quality data and research in
a rural area, it’s tough, and that’s why we were so excited when Mary, WestEd, REL, and
Jobs for the Future gave us this opportunity to learn together and to figure out really
organically how we could do what we needed to do. And we still have a long way to go and we’ll
talk a little bit about outcomes later, but it was really something that helped us. So today, we’re just going to touch very briefly
on our regional collaborative and developing these endorsed shared metrics. We’re going to talk a little bit about how
we leverage some resources to maximize our impact and expand our cross-sector partners,
and I’m just going to touch briefly at the end on outcomes and next steps. So, when we look at the next part, Alice,
that says developing shared metrics and building cross-sector buy-in; I think this was a game
changer for us. So, like Tim, like the work in Lake County,
we actually brought together over 79 cross-sector partners so we could actually identify our
regional priorities. I mentioned that we had all these grants come
in, but, you know, grants come and go, and sometimes grants buy equipment and people. And coming from industry, when our superintendent
asked me, “Joy, will you take on this directorship and this and that?” I was really reluctant. I was like, “I don’t know. I don’t want to be part of something that
buys people and equipment, but I’ll be part of something that…I would love to be part
of something that really develops systems and really creates partnerships.” Well, there were so many like-minded people
in our region that wanted to come together and do that, the champions that I mentioned,
so that’s what we did. We moved from a grant-funded consortium to
a partnership collaborative. And in this partnership collaborative we needed
to give ourselves some structure. So, a huge principle that I try to message
as a leader and then the leaders that lead with me messaged it, and that was mission
before organization. That driving principle has really helped us
create our regional priorities, which very quickly the five of them are: strengthen and
scale industry partnerships; define and align effective practices for high-quality pathways;
increase postsecondary participation and success; and implement shared operational structures,
with the fifth one being endorsed shared outcomes. So, we knew that we had to all put our regional
hats on, we need to come to the table and we set these regional priorities, and within
the endorsed shared outcomes, we brought our steering council together. So, in this Tulare Kings College and Career
Collaborative, we have this structure that’s built on an executive Tulare County Steering
Council with a dean and directors network, and then we have work groups. We have work groups around data, we have work
groups around high-quality pathways, we have a work group around postsecondary success,
and we have a work group around the scale and strengthen industry partnerships. The endorsed shared outcomes we knew could
not be developed by the data work group. It needed to start with senior leadership. So, this TK Steering Council that I’ve mentioned,
we have the senior leaders from all of our cross-sector partners. So, I’m talking about the community college
presidents, I’m talking about the superintendents from the school districts, I’m talking about
the executive directors of the WIB–they come together to meet and provide guidance. We also, just this past year, created a governance
guidance document. It’s a collaborative document so that we can
operate with some organization and some framework, but it’s loose by design because we need to
be very flexible in what we do. So, we brought the TK Steering Council together
after we identified our regional priorities that I just mentioned, and we used the top
facilitation process, which I won’t go into a lot of detail about. You could do some research, or please feel
free to send me an email and we’re happy to send you information about it. The picture that you see on the slide is an
example of what we brainstormed around when we created the work for the data work group. When we decided to create some endorsed shared
metrics for our region, we knew that those senior leaders needed to lead that. We knew that the president of COS and West
Hills College…and we knew that they needed to be at the table, our superintendents and
our WIB. And so we created our endorsed shared outcomes
by really asking–and it was in two work sessions: “What’s important to you? What is important to you? What is important for us to know to ensure
that our students are truly college, career, and life ready?” So, we created six metrics, which you’ll see
on the next slide in just a moment, and these metrics were created using a cumulative voting
process, aka, the dot, right? And it was really exciting to see how connected
and how like-minded these leaders were. Our metrics were around college credit, completing
a career pathway, industry-recognized certification, attempting and completing transfer-level English,
attempting and completing transfer-level math, and then our last metric is around the job
placement rate and really looking at exactly what Tim referred to and their big overall
goal. How are we going to see and know what students
are doing, with us, in our K–12 system to postsecondary to the workforce, and how do
we get feedback so that we can improve upon our practices and really provide to the workforce
what is needed? So, moving on to the next slide. When we created these endorsed shared metrics,
it was so exciting to see that what we created for our metrics tied so well to a funding
source in California that has been provided to K–12, and that is the K–12 Strong Workforce. And while the funding goes to K–12, the community
colleges are very involved. We got Fresno State and UC Merced involved
in our project, and then, of course, Workforce is very involved. Because one of the things, when you create
this collaborative space for people, you want them to see where they fit. We want to all understand how we will benefit,
all of us, everybody will mutually benefit, and we also don’t want to be doing all these
things in silos. Okay, we don’t want to measure this in a silo,
measure that in a silo; we want our work to be braided and very connected. So, my colleague, Lori Morton and I–she
is our career pathways engagement manager and a leader here at College and Career with
me–we started really looking at our endorsed shared outcomes here on the right side of
this H graph, then we placed what our strategies were for the K–12 Strong Workforce project,
and then as you can see on the right hand side are the metrics that are being used for
the K–12 Strong Workforce project, and they very much align. And so, while they were created at different
times, I think what it says is, there is a lot of, like Tim said, there’s a lot of opportunity
right now provided to us to have these conversations and to have this space. Being part of Jobs for the Future and being
able to connect and really collaborate and learn from collaborators across the state,
that was such a huge game changer for us, something that really made a significant difference
in our leadership and in our implementation. And then, of course, being part of this REL
rural data project has really been a gift because we’ve been provided with tools and
coaching and that sort of thing along the way. So, we are embedding our metrics across our
regional projects, and that’s been really exciting. I’m going to wrap up this last slide. Am I doing okay on time, Alice? ALICE RICE: You are. JOY SOARES: Okay. So the last slide…this is messy work, and
I like what…So, let me just very quickly share that TCOE is very involved with improvement
science, and there is a theory that when we look at our work, that our work can be possibly
wrong and definitely incomplete, and we mean that in a very positive way and it does show,
I think, a really important thing in this work, is that there is a growth mindset around
improving. And that is that we still want to learn so
much more and we need to keep and continue our inquiry driving and to understanding what’s
happening and collaborate to come up with additional answers and reasons and just continue
the work. So, in thinking about that, what some of our
outcomes have been in the past two years has been, we really have created consensus and
coherence around what is important in the region with our senior leaders and much of
our middle management and in our high schools with partial team members. In other words, I couldn’t say that this is
a really clear understanding in every one of our high schools, but I do know that there
are staff and people embracing and understanding what we’re doing here at a regional level. And we’ve also provided guidance for the collaborative
work to be done in the region from highly engaged leaders. So, this is a collaborative that at one time,
two years ago, operated with the middle management, the deans and directors from our organizations
leading the work, and now we get guidance from our senior leaders, with the dean and
directors still providing leadership with guidance and then implementing it. And then we’ve increased ownership and commitment
from our cross-sector partners. Again, I’m talking about the championship
idea, having champions in each sector. And then what’s been exciting is, we really
work hard to align our regional resources and our systems work so that we’re not duplicating
as much or working in any kind of silos. So, our next step is, we’re looking to do
something very exciting, and I really want to thank Alice, Mara, REL West for this upcoming
work this year. We’re really excited. We’re going to provide data briefs to our
partners. So, our first data brief, which will be coming
out at the end of this month, will be around understanding what’s happening in postsecondary,
how our students are doing in various measures with postsecondary. And then in winter, we’ll be looking at…and
into the college arena, and then we’ll be looking at some career metrics with our next
data brief. So, we’re very excited about that. And then, just to wrap up, we’ve been really
fortunate to have partnerships and really…I think with data, you need redundancy. This is something I’ve learned recently and
that is that if we can get data from multiple sources and really try to figure out why the
data…why, why, why and use data protocols, REL West has been very fantastic and we’ve
landed on a data protocol that we’ll be using. I think that because we’re working with REL
West, we’re working with Educational Results Partnership, which is CalPASS Plus and Launch
Board, and we’re talking with another data provider, and we also are so grateful to have
UC Merced Center for Educational Partnership as part of our collaborative because there
will be gaps in any data that we collect, I think, and that all of these partners can
work together to help us fill in those gaps. So, it’s been a fantastic partnership and
I want to thank all of you at REL West and Jobs for the Future for the opportunity. Tulare Kings College and Career Collaborative,
we’re better together, which is one of our core beliefs, and you’re definitely together
with us. So, thank you. ALICE RICE: Thanks so much, Joy, for sharing
your unique experiences building capacity for data use in your education and career
partnership and setting such a high precedent for cross-sector collaborative work in California. It’s really amazing to work with you. We’d now like to invite attendees of the webinar
to join us in the conversation. Please type your questions or indicate if
you would like to ask a presenter a question about their presentation or ongoing work in
the chat box. The first question we have is from Jerrien
Abel. He would like to learn more about REL West
data protocols. JERRIEN ABEL: Oh, yeah, thank you. We’re a broad-based partnership that’s also
cross-sector, and one of our challenge areas is engaging partners who come from very different
perspectives, very different backgrounds, very different experiences and exposures to
data, and so we’re always looking for ways that we can engage them in data that doesn’t
scare them, that isn’t overwhelming, that really allows for that kind of soft entry
into deeper conversations around data. So, I’m just always on the lookout for those
kinds of tools. MARA LOCKOWANDT: Yeah. Great. There are some really interesting kind of
protocol templates and examples out there, and we’re actually working with Tulare Kings
College and Career Collaborative now on kind of starting to look at some of those pieces
of research and figure out what is going to make sense for their next steps around data
inquiry. But I wanted to know if Joy or Tim, either
of you wanted to speak to this in terms of how to kind of build the data literacy skills,
what has worked or what hasn’t worked for your cross-sector work. How do you engage folks that might be unfamiliar
with data or find the data scary, as you say? So, I hope, Joy and Tim, you’re still unmuted,
if you want to chime in. JOY SOARES: Sure. This is Joy. Just very quickly. One of the things that REL West helped us
do was that we…So, when you think about cross-sector partnerships, you’re talking
about every sector speaking a different language. K–12 talks differently than postsecondary
talks differently than the workforce. We spent a solid year reading articles, talking
about what kind of data we were gathering at this time. Where does this data come from? What are these acronyms? What does this mean? And we had various presentations from the
partners. This is at the middle management level. It was glorious. I am 100 percent sure that not only did we
build our data literacy, we also built our partnerships and our team. And when we started looking at the data that
we collect and where it comes from, we started connecting the commonalities, we started connecting
the differences. And I think this is what helped us, because
as we all know in California, there’s not one single data system to use to gather information
on behavior of a person in all of the sectors. So, I think that organically, we were able
to create some data literacy, and then I also think that that was sort of our beginning
stages. We read a couple articles together, and Mara,
maybe we can post them later, we can pull them out. That was a couple of years ago. And then just to continue the data literacy,
we have our data work group that meets religiously once a month, and that is a focus to continue
to create data literacy, to continue to figure out how we’re going to really measure these
metrics that have been endorsed by our collaborative and then who will help us do that and where
are we in the process. MARA LOCKOWANDT: Yeah. Great. So, thank you, Joy, so much. And just to build on that further, it’s so
much about where your different partners are at in terms of that entry point into the conversation,
but as Joy is saying, it’s not as if there’s a one-hour presentation you can do and get
everyone kind of feeling comfortable. It’s an ongoing process, as Tim mentioned
before as well. It can take years, it can take several attempts. I think one thing that we were going to get
to just even later in this conversation today is also around the critical importance of
trust between partners, and I think that’s one reason why data conversations can sometimes
seem intimidating, is because folks might feel as though they’re airing some things
in the open that they might want to keep under the bed. And so kind of making sure your partners…that
you have taken the time to build the trust and the relationships regarding some of those
principles we were talking about at the beginning; that is fundamental to getting to a place
where folks feel like they can start to talk about data that doesn’t seem too scary or
unveiling things that they might not want to unveil. If you’re all working towards the shared mission,
mission over organization, those conversations become a lot easier. And as Tim was saying in the process enneagram,
the cycle in which you might want to have those conversations, those intentions, those
principles would ideally be coming before you’re actually asking folks to share their
actual data. But I hope that helps a little bit get at
what you’re asking there in your question. Joy, while folks might be thinking about their
questions, we did have someone else chat in a little bit earlier wanting to know a little
bit more around the ToPs facilitation. So I wanted to know if you feel comfortable
talking a little bit more about that and what that process is like, and then we can share
some links out after the webinar. JOY SOARES: Sure. I think what’s really neat about these cross-sector
partnerships is that this was really an idea that really came to us through our Workforce
Investment Board. And they actually bring in businesses and
the entire Tulare County WIB staff is trained in this methodology, because it is about making
sure that you do have everyone engaged in this process and it’s leadership that really
can be gained through this process. So, just very quickly. The ToPs facilitation method, it actually
is about coming to some…it’s surfacing what people are thinking, it’s coming to consensus
about what people are thinking around a very important guiding question, and then it’s about creating action plans after those consensus-building decisions are made. And I think that what this helped us do is
that we were able to…Actually, by the way, real quickly, ToPs, it stands for Technology
of Participation, so it’s really about facilitators designing and leading meetings so that you
can really focus on the outcome, if you will. I don’t know if that makes sense, but it’s
really for focused conversations and then consensus building and then action plan. I guess those would be the three pieces. But we can definitely share a link and you
can definitely just…okay, I just Googled something. You can definitely Google it yourself, about
the ToPs facilitation. The wall of wonder is fantastic, and you can
see the corner of the wall in the picture on the that one particular slide, but you
get to see everything in front of you and it really is a fantastic way to facilitate. MARA LOCKOWANDT: Yeah. Thank you. PARTICIPANT: Hi. We just wanted to learn a little more about
how really the rural setting influences collaborative strategies and practices as opposed to how
it might be in other settings. MARA LOCKOWANDT: Yeah. Such a good question. Tim, I think we’ve talked a lot about this
before. If you want to have a first go at answering
this, the way in which that rural setting, working in rural communities really influences
this work. Some of the frameworks and strategies we’re
talking about here don’t necessarily apply just to rural settings, they can be applied
in other contexts, but there are certain perhaps principles, certain strategies that are really
relevant when we’re talking about the rural cross-sector work. TIM GILL: And I think I understand the question,
and I guess I would answer it with an example. When I hear folks from a large suburban or
urban consortium talk about, say, work-based learning opportunities for students, and they
talk about the 200 students from their school district that are going on work-based learning
or finding work-based learning opportunities at, I don’t know, Lockheed Martin or Boeing
or some big giant industrial-based company; when the kind of work-based learning opportunities
that I have here in Kelseyville is, I can send two students over to a company called
Stokes Ladders, which makes ladders for picking pears–it’s not even in the same universe of
scope. So, I think that what we try to do is, I mean,
we certainly appreciate and envy a lot of those kinds of projects that are possible
in a more suburban or urban area, but you have to be realistic about what you can accomplish. And I think that one thing I’ve learned over
the last year and a half in working with REL and with our community college, is really
how to have those discussions to narrow down the focus to something that can actually be
quantified, that you can actually come up with a SMART goal around that one thing that
you’ve narrowed it down to, and that it’s okay for your organization to have much more
modest SMART goals than say in a larger setting. So, not that we’re settling for less, it’s
just sometimes in order to make progress you have to know what’s possible. And, again, I think it goes back to that being
honest about where you’re at right now. And so, I guess that’s how I would respond
to that. MARA LOCKOWANDT: Yeah. Great. Joy, did you want to add anything to that? JOY SOARES: Yeah, just quickly. So, I understand what Tim is saying and agree–work-based learning does get tough. And just that example; we try to get really
creative, like, our school districts are partnering with the vendors. The people that they pay to do work at their
school, those people are committing to job shadows and internships. And while it may not be in the same industry
that these students are doing, you can still focus on this skill. But I would like to speak to the fact that
I feel it’s been a real positive for us from a rural standpoint in that I feel like we’re
able to be very maverick and move. We have that opportunity that we’re small
enough…we do have a couple of districts that are in areas with no mayor, no city government,
and very similar to what Tim is talking about, and they have to get very creative, and at
the same time they can really move quickly because the sense of urgency is heard very
quickly. So, I mean, there’s a lot of positives, without
going into much detail, about being in a rural community as well. MARA LOCKOWANDT: Yeah. I think the point both of you are making,
kind of a realistic assessment of where folks are at and what’s going to be possible, and
also using the opportunities to really lean into some creativity and innovative ideas,
some of which Joy is talking about there, I think is really important. Other things that we’ve heard about or read
about in the research, depending on your technological infrastructure to really create opportunities
for virtual learning experiences, sticking with Tim’s, like, work-based learning example
there. And we’ve also seen examples of folks kind
of doing actual kind of mock work experiences or role plays where employers come to the
school and actually do kind of rotation stations where students are engaged in kind of a project-based
learning, but they don’t have to go to the company, the company comes to them to create
that in order to overcome barriers related to transportation and access there. So, there’s a lot of opportunities that might
start to be created once you get folks thinking about what are those innovative strategies
that you might be able to do. But that was a great question. Great. Like I said, I’m going to just share one more
learning that we’ve had from our engagement with rural communities in California and our
work in general in terms of the building data capacity. If anyone else has a question, please do type
it in. We want to make sure that we’ve got time to
support folks and answer questions and hear from the two experts that we have on the line
today. So, while we’re waiting for any other questions
to come through, I just want to share one more kind of hopefully helpful framework. Something that we like to say a lot is that
all frameworks are flawed, but some can be useful. And one thing that we’ve been really learning
about through our work is this idea of system leader characteristics. So, a lot of our time on this call today is
talking about not only those kind of nuts and bolts processes that are very technical,
that are required to build a community’s ability to collect and share and analyze data related
to the databases and the agreements that are in place, but, really, how important it is
to have cross-sector leaders that have particular skills and capacities and mindsets that can
really accelerate the work in a region, really find those champions and empower them. And so, this particular slide that you’re
looking at now has a graphic that is getting at the system leader characteristics. And this is coming out of a James Irvine Foundation
grant that took place in 2015 with Jobs for the Future. And these characteristics were really identified
through interviews with system leaders across the state who were doing this cross-sector
work that we’re talking about as well as a deep literature review in terms of other evidence-based
practices of the characteristics that leaders have in order to drive system change. And as you can see here, there are certain
dispositions, there are certain skills, and there are certain ways of working. And a lot of the principles that we talked
about at the beginning are echoed or interwoven into a lot of these characteristics, too. So, I know some of the text is really small,
but we have the link and we can share it afterwards as well. But there’s nine different characteristics
that are listed here. Systems Thinking is one, which really is about
maintaining that big picture, refers to that idea of mission over organization. Your system leader–which is, I presume,
many of you who are on the line today–the fact that you’ve made it onto this webinar
is an indication that you are really trying to wrestle with this idea of Systems Thinking:
how are you going to achieve regional impact? Having an open mindset. Another kind of disposition that has come
out of the research in terms of a key way of working, which really is about, as Joy
was saying, they’re really into improvement science in Tulare Kings College and Career
Collaborative. So, really, like embracing the learning, embracing
that ambiguity, taking risks, being willing to experiment and try things on. That’s a disposition of leaders that can really
kind of help this system change work. Another kind of aspect here is the unwavering
attention to diversity, equity, and inclusion. This is another really critical piece on many
different levels, but in part around the lens in which all of the work is being undertaken. Relationships and trust is another component
on this wheel that we’ve talked a lot about today. How system leaders are really treating productive
working relationships and building that shared trust among multiple stakeholders so that
you can find those champions, so that you can open up the hood and look at that data
that folks have. Another component here is focusing on results. So, really, kind of helping the other partners
who are in your consortia really stay focused on that mission, really stay focused on those
results. Another big piece of this that we really love
and both Tim and Joy have done fantastic work on in their own consortia is around this idea
of co-creation of the structures to support the work. So, really, collaborating with the partners
and the other stakeholders to develop the processes, to develop the structures for that
joint work, really, as a way of kind of building that ownership within your cross-sector consortia. And the last two here, we’ve got empowerment. So, system leaders really promoting the collective
as the unit of influence rather than the individual and really leaning into that. And then the idea here of incentives and pay off. So, creating opportunities for individuals
at multiple levels of the system to see the benefit of their participation in the short
term and the long term. So, return on investment for your employer
and workforce partners; really, what’s in it for each of your partners and helping folks
see and make that connection. The other thing that we had kind of for today
to just share is really so much about what both of our presenters are talking about,
which is, really, like that critical piece around collaboration. And our quote here, “Collaboration moves at
the speed of trust.” So, the work of those collaboratives and consortia
is really accelerated through deep trust amongst the partners. And I don’t know if Tim wants to speak any
more to why he thinks the first few attempts at cross-sector work might not have been successful
in Lake County, but part of it is, really, how are folks trusting each other? How are you building the capacity of your
group to work in a way in which that continues to be nurtured and continues to be a part
of the work? So, our implications here around trust are
really bringing the folks to the table and securing institutional commitments and data
sharing agreements. We’ve seen this several times. Institutions might be wary of signing up or
signing onto data sharing agreements, but if they trust in the mission, if they trust
in the collective, then they’re more likely to sign up and come to the table in that way. So, just again, two kind of pieces of additional
framing for folks to think about in terms of their own work and moving forward. So, I’m going to go back to our Q&A, if there
was any final questions that folks had. Otherwise, we will do a kind of final wrap-up. Okay. I’m not seeing any questions come through. Again, you can always email us afterwards. But we did want folks…in terms of our wrap-up
today, a couple of things. One is to just acknowledge and deeply appreciate
both of our presenters who are on the line today. Tim and Joy, you’re doing phenomenal work
in California and we are all so supportive of your efforts and can’t wait to see what’s
happening next in both of your regions. So, thank you, and thank you to all of our
folks on the line today. We have some great questions and a real diversity
of participants. So, really looking forward to your feedback
today in terms of what you find useful for your own work moving forward and how we can
continue to use this research project, the REL West research project, for you to unpack
the enabling conditions for you to be successful in your cross-sector data collaborative.

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