Exploring California Expansion Opportunities for the National Academy Foundation
The National Academy Foundation (NAF), a national network of career academies whose mission is to support the development of America's youth toward personal and professional success in high school, in higher education and throughout their careers, reached out to Collaborative to take a comprehensive look at the state of career academies and multiple pathways in 29 communities in California, and to make recommendations for potential expansion opportunities.
NAF shared with Collaborative some previous challenges they had experienced with collecting information to inform their expansion decisions. One of the biggest challenges they encountered was that school data and information became quickly outdated because of the constantly changing landscape of multiple pathways and career academies in California. Limited funding also put a cap on the number of communities they could reasonably examine.
Collaborative looked at multiple indicators to identify potential expansion opportunities for NAF academies in California. We examined public education data, interviewed potential partners and identified existing support structures, to gain a clear picture of interest, need and support. We looked at how these indicators intersected and overlapped, to identify potential areas for academy expansion. We synthesized our findings in a written report that "maps" our recommendations.
In response to the need be able to update information and continue to explore new locations, Collaborative created the Community Readiness Assessment Tool, which helps to guide strategic thinking about a community's level of readiness to engage in the career academy approach. By capturing and documenting the process by which data can be used to inform decisions, Collaborative empowered NAF to continue its work in an effective and strategic way.
NAF responded enthusiastically to the value that Collaborative added to this project, and plans to continue to explore how these and other tools might be put into an interactive online format.
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