Issue Briefs

Pathways to Progress: Forging Strategies to Broaden Impact

In 2014, the Citi Foundation launched Pathways to Progress, a three-year, $50 million initiative in the United States to help 100,000 low-income youth – ages 16 to 24 – to develop the workplace skills and leadership experience necessary to compete in a 21st century economy. Since its launch, Pathways to Progress investments have enabled the five U.S. based grantees to create new programming, augmented or altered existing program models, and substantially expanded their reach, affecting greater numbers of youth.

In this Issue Brief, we describe how the grantees are scaling their program models to enhance their reach. To provide context for the grantees’ work in this area, we draw from literature on the topics of scaling, local program adaptation, partnerships, and data-informed programming, as well as a series of interviews we conducted with leaders of organizations that have successfully scaled their programs, and key influencers in the youth development and economic opportunity fields (“bellwethers”).

Catalyzing Change in STEM Teaching: Lessons from the Helmsley Charitable Trust’s Postsecondary Strategy

Since beginning active grantmaking in 2008, the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust has committed more than $1.5 billion dollars to nonprofits and other mission-aligned organizations in the United States and around the world. Helmsley’s postsecondary grantmaking focuses on increasing the number of college graduates in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields – particularly female students and students of color. The portfolio focuses on supporting networks of higher education institutions committed to improving instructional practices, primarily for gateway STEM policies, practices, and systems that can help improve student retention and completion.

As the STEM Active Learning Networks evaluation and learning partner, Equal Measure is tracking the impact of the Helmsley Charitable Trust’s postsecondary grantmaking on faculty, departmental, and institutional change across networks.

This Issue Brief is based on data gathered through semi-annual interviews with network leads, observations from investment-wide and individual network convenings, and findings from grantee and network member focus groups.


Pathways to Progress: The Portfolio and the Field of Youth Economic Opportunity

Citi_OYillustration_social mediaIn 2014, the Citi Foundation launched Pathways to Progress, a three-year, $50 million initiative in the United States to help 100,000 low-income youth — ages 16 to 24 — develop the workplace skills and leadership experience necessary to compete in a 21st century economy.

To achieve its ambitious goal, the Foundation has chosen four different program “pathways” that reflect the latest field understanding about approaches that can have a lasting impact on a youth’s economic well-being: Entrepreneurship, Service/Leadership, Mentorship, and Summer Jobs. A keystone of this strategy is the deep investment in a portfolio of five grantee organizations: Points of Light, Cities for Financial Empowerment Fund, Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship, iMentor, and Management Leadership for Tomorrow.

Equal Measure is conducting a three-year portfolio review of the Citi Foundation’s Pathways to Progress initiative. This issue brief provides an overview of current trends in the youth economic opportunity field, and describes how the five grantees are responding, and contributing, to emerging youth economic opportunity field trends.

View Issue Brief

Career Advancement Academies: Insights into Contextualized Teaching and Learning

The Career Advancement Academies (CAAs) are community college programs that focus on young adults who face academic and personal barriers to postsecondary education and employment. Funded by the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office, CAAs increase foundational  skills in reading, writing, and math, and help students advance along pathways leading to high demand careers and  further higher education opportunities.

Contextualized teaching and learning is a key component of the CAAs. Contextualized teaching and learning combines basic skills with technical education – allowing students to make immediate progress toward their goals. Through contextualized teaching and learning, CAA students apply academic content that is directly relevant to their career interests. As a result, students become more engaged, motivated, and prepared for college and careers.

In this new Issue Brief, we explore the implementation and sustainability of quality contextualized teaching and learning in several colleges across California. The Brief was co-authored by the Career Ladders Project.

Pathways to Progress: Setting the Stage for Impact

In 2014, the Citi Foundation embarked on Pathways to Progress, a three-year, $50 million commitment to help 100,000 low-income youth – ages 16 to 24 – develop the workplace skills and leadership experience necessary to compete in a 21st century economy.

Understanding that unique and customized employability and leadership development strategies work for different youth, the Citi Foundation is investing in four program paths: Entrepreneurship, Service/Leadership, Mentorship 2.0, and Summer Jobs. At the center of this strategy is a deep investment in a portfolio of five national organizations: Points of Light, Cities for Financial Empowerment Fund, Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship, iMentor, and Management Leadership for Tomorrow.

Equal Measure is conducting a three-year portfolio review of Pathways to Progress. In this Issue Brief, we describe how the grantees are testing innovative program models, review their early progress and impact, and offer future areas of inquiry for our portfolio review.

The Community Partnerships Issue Briefs Series

The OMG Center is publishing a series of Issue Briefs highlighting lessons from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Community Partnerships portfolio evaluation.

In the Issue Briefs, we share the results of the investment and provide tangible examples of how communities approached the goal of improving postsecondary completion. We hope you consider the Issue Briefs as useful tools, and please feel free to share them with your colleagues and professional networks.

Issue Brief 1:  Building Commitment to a Postsecondary Systems Change Agenda. This Issue Brief focuses on how the partnerships built public awareness, deepened relationships with partner organizations, and engaged community leaders to implement their initiatives.

Issue Brief 2:  Using Data to Advance a Postsecondary Systems Change Agenda. This Issue Brief focuses on how the partnerships used data to build public commitment, set priorities for policy and practice changes, and monitor the partnership’s internal structures and processes.

Issue Brief 3:  Aligning Policies and Practices to Advance a Postsecondary Systems Change Agenda.  This Issue Brief focuses on how communities can adopt and implement policies and practices to increase postsecondary success.

Issue Brief 4:  Building and Sustaining Partnerships to Advance a Postsecondary Systems Change Agenda.  This Issue Brief focuses on how communities can successfully strengthen partnerships to increase postsecondary success.

Issue Brief 5:  Amplifying Learning in Systems Change Investments: An Experience in Developmental Evaluation. This Issue Brief focuses on how communities, funders, and evaluators can conduct effective developmental evaluations to help advance postsecondary systems change.

OMG’s Work in Community Safety and Obesity Prevention Featured in RWJF Issue Briefs

Building off 30 years of advising community change, OMG has recently deepened our understanding of the role of community safety in advancing childhood obesity prevention.  Recent work is illustrated in two Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Issue Briefs.

The Issue Briefs highlight “The Role of Community Safety in Obesity Prevention: Exploring How Exposure to Crime and Violence Impact Physical Activity and Healthy Eating,” an RWJF thought leader forum held at the CDC in September 2011. RWJF commissioned OMG to partner with philanthropic, government and nonprofit sector experts to establish forum goals, develop the agenda, identify speakers, and synthesize discussions in a final report.  The forum convened 54 national experts in violence prevention, healthy eating, and active living.

The Issue Briefs offer useful insights for practitioners and researchers.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion: Strengthening OMG’s Consulting Competence

Racial and ethnic heritage often impede people’s pursuit of quality education, health, home, and community. Persisting negative attitudes, policies, and structures continue to create disparities that keep African Americans and Latinos at a disadvantage.

As social sector advisors, OMG is committed to improving the quality of life and opportunity for all people. But to help people achieve better outcomes, philanthropic and nonprofit advisors like OMG must understand their own attitudes toward diverse populations. They must have appropriate tools to frame, analyze, and uncover the causes underlying persistent inequities of experience and opportunity. Finally, to build a consulting practice committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), it is essential to institutionalize organizational policies that build and support the DEI skills of all staff.

Read our latest issue brief to learn about what OMG is doing to increase its organizational capacities in DEI, and the early lessons we have learned.

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