Written by Megan Lowery, SCOE
Photos Provided by SCOE
It has been 18 months since the official launch of the Stanislaus Cradle to Career Partnership. Community leaders have been working hard behind the scenes to develop the necessary infrastructure to sustain collective efforts over the long haul. “One of the first things we established were five action teams, with leaders from a variety of sectors,” said Marian Kaanon, Chief Executive Officer of the Stanislaus Community Foundation. “Excitement is brewing because change is coming.”
“The Stanislaus Cradle to Career Partnership focuses on setting our children up to be Stanislaus County’s next generation of employees, community leaders, volunteers and parents,” said Superintendent of Schools Scott Kuykendall. “We’re thrilled to have partners across the county engaging in this work to help improve outcomes for families and children.”
According to the Partnership’s organizers, in order to see meaningful, community-level results, systems and institutions will have to adapt. “Collective impact work does not begin with adherence to a pre-conceived agenda,” said Kaanon. “Rather, it begins with a deep understanding and respect for the relationships that connect us and an intentional alignment of our efforts. This process—of nurturing our relationships and aligning our efforts—is what drives systems-level change.”
The Partnership is all about the power of relationships to drive change. Over 30 community leaders are guiding the movement in Stanislaus County. The work within the five focus areas (see below) is beginning to take off.
With a focus on ensuring that Stanislaus County students enter Kindergarten ready to succeed, members continue to explore available education and health data that illustrates the current reality for children ages 0-5 and their parents and family. Initial data challenges show the need to build alignment around early developmental screenings, such as the use of Ages & Stages Questionnaire at health centers, and for county-wide adoption of the Kindergarten Student Entrance Profile (KSEP), a school readiness assessment. Up next, the team plans to map available support services in the region for young children and families.
Working to ensure that Stanislaus County children are reading at grade level by the end of 3rdgrade, the team has analyzed third-grade reading data and conducted interviews of students at elementary schools across the county to learn more about the student mindset towards reading. The team recently launched three work groups to focus on parent engagement, attendance, and student access to books.
Seeking to change the narrative around math, the team is focused on ensuring that Stanislaus County students of all ages demonstrate confidence, success, and joy in math. Through research, we know that only 26 percent of 5thgrade students demonstrate math proficiency in Stanislaus County. The team will work to increase math confidence and competency by focusing on the mindset of both students and their helpers (i.e. teachers and family) to shift the culture of math learning from dread to JOY. The team will develop student surveys and begin to asset-map programs across the county to identify bright spots that buck the trend.
The team is focused on two outcomes: ensuring that Stanislaus County students graduate high school postsecondary ready and that postsecondary students successfully complete their degree or certificate. The team has taken a deep dive into data around college readiness and enrollment, and uncovered significant disparities relating to gender and income. With the support of the consultancy CoCreative, the team will conduct interviews with students, teachers, counselors, and administrators across K-12, MJC, and Stanislaus State to understand the human stories behind the data and to identify system barriers that prevent students from staying on the college-going pipeline.
Working to ensure that Stanislaus County job seekers are ready to enter self-sustaining employment, the team has developed shared understanding of what it means to earn a sustainable wage in Stanislaus County and reviewed unemployment trends. Up next, the team will undergo an extensive mapping of career preparation programs in our region, and engage with the business community to see how the existing inventory of programs align with industry needs.
Looking towards the future, leaders behind the Stanislaus Cradle to Career Partnership will continue to engage with community organizations, businesses, and government agencies to invite them into the movement. A baseline report will be published in late fall, and a county-wide community summit is slated for March 2020.
For more information contact Megan Lowery at firstname.lastname@example.org or 209-238-1716.