Promoting Pathways to Good Jobs: Strada Education Network

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Since 2014, Strada Education Network has invested more than $100 million to help more Americans get a good first job. Strada is a national social impact organization dedicated to strengthening the pathways between education and employment.

Strada is based in Indianapolis. After operating as a federal student loan guarantor (formerly known as USA Funds) since 1960, Strada transformed itself into a national social impact enterprise with a mission of “Completion With a Purpose.”

Former Assistant Secretary of Education Carol D’Amico has been EVP at Strada during the six year transformation. She describes the focus as “advancing the universal right to realized potential.” The mission is, “Completion With a Purpose.”

That means the goal isn’t just pushing Americans toward postsecondary degrees, it is rapid and affordable pathways to good jobs. D’Amico, like author and investor Ryan Craig, is a fan of better, faster, and cheaper postsecondary learning options.

While mergers and acquisitions are common in the private sector, scaled impact in the social sector is seldom achieved by combining forces. Strada addresses critical college-to-career challenges through strategic philanthropy, research and insights, and mission-aligned affiliates. Strada has acquired seven organizations that operate as an extension of the Network:

    • Council for Adult and Experiential Learning (CAEL) provides adult career advising and advancement services.
    • College Confidential creates discussion forms and resources that inform college and career choices.
    • DXtera is a consortium dedicated to transforming student and institutional outcomes in higher education.
    • Education at Work provides paid work opportunities for college students so they can graduate with little to no debt and the skills they need to secure careers post-graduation.
    • Emsi provides comprehensive labor market analytics to inform people looking for good work, employers looking for good people, and educators looking to build good programs.
    • InsideTrack provides adaptive coaching solutions to postsecondary institutions.
    • Roadtrip Nation interviews people in a wide range of jobs to provide career advice.

Seven recent grants totaling $8 million resulted from a competitive process that yielded hundreds of ideas. Recipients all leverage partnerships between postsecondary institutions, employers, and community organizations to helping students succeed in school and in the workplace.

Strada works with Gallup to gather consumer insights. They have interviewed 300,000 U.S. adults with experiences at over 3,000 postsecondary institutions about their educational experiences. Insights can be gleaned by region, by job cluster, and by educational pathway.

The Strada Institute for the Future of Work supports research to build learning ecosystems for the future. “The learning ecosystem of the future must seamlessly skill, reskill and upskill adults throughout their working lives,” said Michelle R. Weise, Strada SVP.  “We need flexible, direct, cost-effective learning pathways that keep up with the emergent demands of the workforce.”

A new Strada report quantifies the value of industry credentials for non-degreed adults.

Strada research and investments focus on partnerships with multiple employers, community advocates, policymakers and educators to leverage expertise in skills-based curriculum development, mentoring, professional networking and internships. They focus on adult learners, underrepresented populations, low-income and first-generation students and help them prepare for jobs in high-demand career pathways.

For more, see:

This post is a part of the Getting Smart Future of Work Campaign. The future of work will bring new challenges and cause us to shift how we think about jobs and employability — so what does this mean for teaching and learning? In our exploration of the #FutureOfWork, sponsored by eduInnovation and powered by Getting Smart, we dive into what’s happening, what’s coming and how schools might prepare. For more, follow #futureofwork and visit our Future of Work page.

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This post was originally published on Forbes.

Tom Vander Ark

Tom Vander Ark is the CEO of Getting Smart. He has written or co-authored more than 50 books and papers including Getting Smart, Smart Cities, Smart Parents, Better Together, The Power of Place and Difference Making. He served as a public school superintendent and the first Executive Director of Education for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

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