Made in Durham convenes career pathway partners for collaboration training

February 19, 2016

Forty educators, workforce specialists, nonprofit leaders and representatives from the Made in Durham Youth Network convened Feb. 17 to develop a common language and framework for collaborating with impact. They are working together to establish regional career pathways that connect youth and adults with careers in high-growth industry sectors.

Made in Durham hosted the training workshop, Building Collective Capacity for Career Pathways, led by the Institute for Coalition Building with funding from Lumina Foundation.

Tackling complex social challenges requires completely different approaches because so many people and organizations must be involved in the solution, said workshop facilitator John M. Burnett, president and CEO of the Community Education Coalition, a nationally recognized nonprofit committed to the development of an aligned, high-quality community and regional learning system supporting learners of all ages.

“The bad news is that the problem is distributed – across people, across organizations and across geographies,” said Burnett. “The good news is that so are the solutions. Great leaders look at solutions across organizations, sectors and geographies.”
That is easier said than done. Transforming systems that operate independently with myriad goals and involving many agencies and stakeholders brings its own set of challenges.

“No silver bullet is going to solve career pathways, and making the parts of a system better doesn’t guarantee that the system as a whole will be better,” Burnett said. “Transforming any system is ultimately about transforming the relationships among people who shape these systems. Understanding the relationships is key to the work of leading.”

ICB 2 - 2nd image for full story story - no captionICB facilitators shared details of the collective impact process as well as examples of communities that have used the process to tackle complex social challenges and transform systems.

Key components of the collective impact model are:

  • Common agenda.
  • Continuous communication.
  • Shared measurement system.
  • Mutually reinforcing activities.
  • Backbone organizations that facilitate and support the work.

Relationships define the structure of the partnership and the structure changes the behavior that produces the desired outcomes.

“The collective impact model represents a paradigm shift from separate organizations working to solve a problem to transforming a ‘system’ that redesigns the work,” he said.

Next steps are for pathway partners to use the knowledge and insights gained at the training to adopt a common language and the key system elements and processes they’ll use to move forward together effectively to create regional career pathways.

For more information on regional career pathways, contact Made in Durham’s career pathway strategist, Sherrod Basnight, or (919) 627.6422.


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Made in Durham is a community partnership of educators, business, government, youth-serving nonprofits and young people mobilized around a shared vision that all of Durham’s youth will complete high school and a post-secondary credential and begin a rewarding career by the age of 25.
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