Building Strong Systems


You’ve explored initiatives and potential matches. You have ideas about how the quality, scale, or sustainability of your work could be enhanced by others. Now it’s time to make connections.

You can work with others to strengthen existing activity, start new partnerships, and bring resources together to help scale and sustain career pathway systems. Follow this simple action guide to make it happen.

Define your interest.

Clarify what you seek to get out of a new connection. Are you looking to gain insight into the practices or experiences of another? To learn if an initiative is active in your local region? To pursue a new partnership? To connect your “target populations” to existing career pathways? Note the reasons that you want to be in touch.

Make contact.

Get the name of an individual to start with. Is there an initiative website with a local provider directory? Can you contact a local agency/institution to find this information? Is there someone in your professional network who can make an introduction? Reach out to get started.

Look for the win/win.

Talk about the missions and interests you each hold. Is your work complementary, are your approaches compatible? How can your interaction lead to more people—employers and participants—being engaged in quality, comprehensive career pathways systems? What new efficiencies and/or assets can each of your organizations gain? Find the points of intersection.

Let the planning begin.

Consider four questions to move ahead:

What’s possible? What is the biggest potential benefit that could come out of our collaboration?

What’s practical in the near-term? Is there a relatively simple way for us to achieve more soon?

Who can help? Which decision makers and organizations need to be involved?

What’s next? Which steps will we take? Who will do what, by when?

Think funding and sustainability.

There is lasting value in braiding together funding sources to strengthen any career pathways system. While much innovation happens under grant dollars, bringing “formula” dollars or other new sources into the mix can fuel a big boost in the quality, scale and sustainability of the system.

Use a systems lens.

Career pathway work aims to transform our education, workforce development, and human service systems to meet the demands of today's economies. While doing the daily work of delivering quality career pathway programs, keep in mind the ever-iterative need to address new policies, processes, and partnerships.