StriveTogether — Postsecondary National Conference 2022

BALTIMORE, MD – ImpactTulsa is a proud member of the national cradle-to-career network, StriveTogether, whose mission is to provide equitable opportunities for every student from birth to employment.

Our team was invited to attend StriveTogether’s national postsecondary conference in Baltimore, Maryland. As a convener organization, it was important to also afford the opportunity for several community partners to join our team in Maryland..

ImpactTulsa team members were joined by Tulsa Higher Education Consortium, Campus Tulsa, and Tulsa Public Schools to share their learnings and action items in efforts to improve postsecondary access and opportunities for Tulsa students.

Avery Bennett, ImpactTulsa

Avery Bennett, Post-Secondary Fellow at ImpactTulsa:

“Centering around the outcome to increase postsecondary engagement among boys and young men of color, the convening provided an excellent opportunity to reflect and recenter in the data and explore possibilities for improvement to facilitate better communication and collaboration across sectors. For instance, we learned about ways others are leveraging National Student Clearinghouse data to help school leaders better understand postsecondary outcomes of their students and make connections to high school experiences that seem to have positive effects.

The convening also reinforced the importance of growing and elevating our community-level relationships. School districts can’t do this work alone, not only from a capacity standpoint but from what we know about the degree to which informal relationships and networks influence students’ postsecondary pathways. Cultivating a network of “civic influencers” is critical to making the postsecondary/workforce process more accessible and relevant for secondary and college students and in addressing racial and economic disparities. That being said, being a part of the StriveTogether Network has proven to be a valuable asset in helping provide critical infrastructure to advance this work; creating spaces for networking, thought partnership, vision alignment and co-development to facilitate movement from talk to action.”

BerThaddaeus Bailey, ImpactTulsa

BerThaddaeus Bailey, Director of My Brother’s Keeper-Tulsa at ImpactTulsa:

“The StriveTogether Post-Secondary Convening provided an opportunity to break silos of understanding, opportunity and resource-provision with our partners in the postsecondary and workforce space. We explored workforce data and learned about opportunities to connect K-12 data to workforce development more succinctly. Other Strive partnerships shared some creative modes of college engagement in the post secondary space by expanding the outreach to justice involved youth and youth interested in advocating as ambassadors in near peer models. Attending partners of Tulsa committed to elevating youth voice in spaces where decisions are being made specifically where youths are the intended beneficiaries.”

Curcio Smith, ImpactTulsa

Curcio Smith, Manager of My Brother’s Keeper-Tulsa at ImpactTulsa:

“This Postsecondary Convening helped me recognize ways that we can boldly amplify our students’ story through data asset-framing by connecting K-12 outcomes, with that of our HigherEd and Workforce. The convening also highlighted the transformative work we do around disaggregating data to identify a target population, and strategically convene partners that have the power of influence to co-develop strategies specific to their needs. We also learned about a unique way to introduce partners to our dashboard data, and provide backbone support to assist them with navigating towards a focus area. Lastly, we must have a clear “why” and a clear “ask” when elevating strategies from our collaborative groups.”

Brian Cain, Tulsa Higher Education Consortium

Brian Cain, Post-Secondary Fellow at Tulsa Higher Education Consortium:

“The StriveTogether Post-Secondary Convening gave me a new perspective on several topics. One that is relevant to my line of work has to do with how institutions and organizations reach their target audience. In my work with the Tulsa Higher Education Consortium, I have launched various K12 initiatives. For one of these initiatives, it was important that we connect with students specifically; connecting with students was much harder than I thought it would be. I quickly realized that reaching out to the students directly was not effective. During the convening, a program director from another organization suggested reaching out to people in students’ lives who they trust. For instance, their teachers and counselors. This allows for a trusted mentor to interpret exactly what the “ask” is and help articulate that to the student. Going forward, I will think critically about who students trust and work together to help students find opportunities and resources. Backbone organizations are important because they systematize these connections to allow for as much efficiency as possible.”

Brooke Randels, Campus Tulsa

Brooke Randels, Program Director at Campus Tulsa:

“This convening allowed for us to realize just how important cross-collaboration can be while we address some of the goals we want to accomplish. In general, I think we already know collaboration is needed for us to be successful but we need to approach this collaboration with some innovation and tact to push the needle. 

Without a backbone organization – I think the collaboration could happen slower or without someone really facilitating a conversation that helps us align our goals to create beneficial partnership. Alignment is so important in this work and I am so appreciative to be on this trip having conversations with the right people in my city and learning from other regions, too.”

Krystal Hutchinson, Tulsa Public Schools

Krystal Hutchinson, Director of Post-Secondary Readiness at Tulsa Public Schools:

“The StriveTogether convening allowed me the opportunity to connect with other school district leaders to better understand how they partner with their backbone organization to accelerate progress toward increased outcomes. This was incredibly helpful as we work to better align our efforts to increase post secondary outcomes for young Black men in Tulsa. I’m interested in exploring more ways to engage youth authentically early and often in the design process and how we can integrate our school level data with NSC data to gain a better understanding of how our work is impacting students outcomes past post secondary education. Tulsa is rich in community resources and folks interested in seeing the city thrive, Impact Tulsa is a critical partner in ensuring that our efforts are aligned and helping us to build cross functional ownership of the work.”

As a backbone organization, ImpactTulsa is committed to convening partners towards shared community goals and collective action. We are grateful for the partnerships with StriveTogether and community organizations to learn from, and to push forward the work of improving student trajectory and postsecondary outcomes.