Learnings and Connections from the StriveTogether Network Convening

Sep 23, 2022 | Cradle to Career Team, News

Members of the Cradle to Career backbone team and Christopher Bonn and Matt Tarver-Wahlquist from the C2C Leadership Council had the opportunity to attend the 2022 StriveTogether Network Convening in Chicago, Illinois. The Convening took place between September 21 and 23, and brought together StriveTogether Network members from across the country, providing opportunities for connection and knowledge sharing, as well as educational sessions that will impact all of our partners.

We’ve compiled some of our favorite takeaways from the Convening for all of you below.

Caroline Lewis, Change Network Facilitator:

I attended the session “Accelerating Collaborative Action for Outcomes Improvement,” and I realized how important it is to narrow down our target population for high school graduation as much as possible (for example, Black youth means who? Black American youth? Refugee youth?) in order to have clear strategies to improve our outcome area of high school graduation. Muddy target populations lead to muddy strategies, so the target population needs to be clear and specific!

Kassondra Silva, Senior Director, Data and Impact:

I attended “Community Alignment to Drive Systems Transformation” presented by E3 Alliance in San Antonio, Texas. Not only did this session include valuable learnings on how to promote shared accountability around creating an equity-focused shared result statement with partners, but also the importance of including the experiences of students through tools like empathic interviewing early in the process. As C2C continues to take action to change systems, I’m looking forward to using these insights to include more student voice and expertise in identifying scalable solutions that work.

Denisse Hernandez de Ortiz, Post-Secondary Facilitator:

Based on our work in the last year around engaging authentically with our community members and honoring their voices, I was really looking forward to attending three sessions today related to community engagement and learning about other ST partnerships’ best practices.

Although every session was insightful and helpful for my thinking, I would say that the ones that really provided me with a path forward were “Valuing Community Expertise: From Talk to Action” and “Systems Indicators: A Family Engagement Data Journey”. After the presentations and discussions, I am now inspired to work closely with other backbone members to create a community engagement definition/philosophy statement and community member compensation policy.

I think that creating this structure will allow us to:

  • Articulate to our partners why community engagement matters in equity work.
  • Be accountable to our stakeholders and provide a plan to make feedback actionable.
  • Sustain the best practices we have been implementing around community engagement.

Kassondra Silva, Senior Director, Data and Impact:

On the second day, I attended “Addressing Bias in Social Impact Research” presented by Chicago Beyond. This session was full of takeaways on how to take an equity-based approach to research that supports communities as authors and owners of evidence and data that can truly impact meaningful change. I’m excited to share resources such as “Why Am I Always Being Researched,” a guidebook for community organizations, funders, and researcher to address inequities that are often embedded in the way data is created and to collaborate with C2C partners to ensure that we acknowledge the impact power dynamics in research can have on finding a more authentic truth.

Amber Schlak, School Partnerships Facilitator:

I attended the “Diversifying and Expanding the Teacher Pipeline” session. One take away was that students all over the country are going through their entire K-12 education without ever having an educator of color, and this is not reflecting the diverse communities students are living in. There is also a diminishing teacher work force. This teacher shortage is a concern to my partners in both the Early Grade Literacy and Middle School Math Change Networks, so I am excited to bring some of my learnings back and begin to discuss potential next steps and strategies.

For more information about StriveTogether, visit their website.