Building Awareness of Pathways to Success: A Peek at the Pilots
It’s a time-old question that every high school student faces at one point or another: What are you doing next?
With a wider variety of postsecondary pathways than ever before, it’s critical that students and their families understand the full spectrum of options available to them. At a time when significant numbers of recent high school graduates and rising seniors—especially students of color and low-income students—are reconsidering their plans beyond high school, communities must offer direct support to help them envision their future and navigate their own path toward career success.
Education Strategy Group is excited to be kicking off a new initiative aimed at improving students’ and families’ understanding of the full range of postsecondary options that can lead to quality credentials and good jobs. With the generous support of the Walton Family Foundation, ESG will partner with and learn alongside seven student- and family-facing organizations over the next two years as they pilot new initiatives to expand awareness of and access to a broad set of postsecondary and career pathways.
Though the specifics of their efforts will differ, participating organizations will come together to learn as a group about such key topics as family and student communications best practices, the “new” labor market, credentials of value, “non-traditional” education pathways, aligned advising, and social capital.
Below is a look at the participating organizations and how each of them plans to approach this work.
Austin Chamber of Commerce
The Austin Chamber of Commerce’s pilot will target high school seniors and recent graduates without a postsecondary plan to participate in a summer bridge program focused on postsecondary career and workforce credentialing options. Students will receive text messages, be able to use the Chamber’s virtual 512 Career Bridge platform, powered by Nepris, to connect with employers and training providers to learn about in-demand careers in the region, and digital career/college counseling through the Chamber’s OneLogos RedKite platform. The Chamber will also expand their messaging campaigns across social media and other dissemination channels to increase awareness around in-demand postsecondary career pathways.
College Advising Corps
Using pre-service and in-service training, national staff from the College Advising Corps (CAC) will develop and deliver training modules on college and career pathways to all CAC near-peer advisers across its 848 partner high schools in 19 states. CAC will also launch a direct-to-student digital communications campaign (using text messaging) in four markets.
Get2College (G2C), a program of the Woodward Hines Education Foundation, plans to develop modules on career pathways to integrate into its curriculum for the state-mandated College and Career Readiness course for high school seniors (including lesson plans, videos, and activities). To help students, counselors, and teachers better understand workforce needs for in-demand jobs in their regions, G2C will analyze labor market data and develop an interactive dashboard. They will also utilize a virtual job shadowing platform to pilot in a subset of high schools as part of the course.
Get Schooled will launch a direct-to-student digital communications campaign promoting multiple postsecondary options including pathways to living-wage careers through two- and four-year degrees, technical education, and registered apprenticeship opportunities that reflect the current and future world of work. Content includes research-based, culturally relevant, and youth-friendly articles, videos, social media, and micro-lessons delivered via text. Get Schooled will reach and engage young people through partnerships with school districts and educators and data-driven marketing efforts throughout the U.S.
As part of its pilot initiative, OneGoal—a national nonprofit that works to ensure all students have an equitable opportunity to attain their greatest postsecondary aspirations—will design and implement progressive pathways-specific advising, develop systems to track student enrollment and graduation from progressive pathways, identify high-quality credential options to inform advising in its target regions, and provide professional development to partner districts in Illinois on developing a comprehensive college and career readiness strategy that promotes multiple pathways to postsecondary success.
PeerForward will expand its curricula, training, and programming model for its peer-to-peer advisors to integrate multiple postsecondary pathways in a subset of its partner high schools in the select areas across the country that serve Black, Latinx, and low-income learners. As part of this expansion, PeerForward plans to launch a new year-long, for-credit work-based learning course for peer leaders connected to CTE pathway programs.
Say Yes Guilford
As part of its vision for developing a four-year, intensive, cohort-based program for students of color and female students interested in STEM careers in local partner districts, Say Yes Guilford intends to develop and pilot a curriculum and aligned programming to build the social capital and awareness of participating students around STEM pathways. The programming will focus on topics such as: confidence building through exposure to STEM industries, understanding of local workforce opportunities in STEM, college tours (including in partnership with their local HBCU), mentorship with local industry partners, and postsecondary planning support.
The College Board will also be participating in the initiative as a thought partner. They will join the cohort to learn alongside participants and to share lessons from their work evolving BigFuture to connect all students to a productive first step after high school.