Omaha Taskforce on Driving Regional Work-Based Change

Key Points

  • We should be focusing on going beyond just graduation to ensure students are engaged and prepared for life after school.

  • It is important to identify students’ strengths and interests early on through tools like interest inventories and connecting them with suitable opportunities.

On this episode of the Getting Smart Podcast Todd Smith, a New Pathways Fellow, founder and CEO of Symphony Workforce and former podcast guest hosts a conversation about an exciting initiative underway in Nebraska. These guests represent the Omaha Taskforce. Joseph Murray, Jesuit Academy. Osuman O. Issaka, Simple Foundation.



In this conversation, Todd Smith, CEO of Symphony Workforce, stresses the insufficiency of traditional educational paths in today’s landscape. Joseph Murray from Jesuit Academy Omaha advocates for personalized education, guiding students beyond graduation via mentorship. Osuman O. Issaka of the Simple Foundation focuses on youth development for refugee, immigrant, and migrant populations, emphasizing integration over assimilation. Together, they shine a light on bridging college experiences with career paths and preparing alumni for community contributions.

The dialogue advances to exploring postsecondary pathways empowering students with data-driven choices. Building authentic relationships with students aids in directing them toward purposeful endeavors. The episode underlines the collective impact on student-centric community development initiatives, transcending academic achievements.


Setting the Stage for Discussion (00:00 – 03:49)

  • Introduction to the podcast and the focus on the need for more than just graduation.
  • Discussion on the roles of leaders, educators, and the importance of engaging students beyond graduation.

Approaches to Enhancing Education (04:06 – 08:21)

  • Different perspectives on education focusing on the whole person and tapping into individual interests.
  • Emphasis on making education more appealing to young people by personalizing learning experiences.

Integration vs. Assimilation in Education (04:53 – 07:33)

  • Exploration of an organization’s approach to integration and support for youth from academic excellence to career pathing.
  • Discussion on creating authentic experiences in Omaha for youth to connect with career opportunities.

Career Pathing and Continuous Learning (07:05 – 08:29)

  • Strategies for extending the process of learning and engaging students in year-long career pathing.
  • Emphasizing the importance of internships, finding purpose, and continuous learning opportunities.

Bridging School and Career Paths (10:13 – 11:29)

  • Introduction of a hybrid internship model connecting students with industry challenges and certifications.
  • Focus on creating a cohesive experience for students in the workforce platform partnership with the Omaha chamber.

Alumni Engagement and Post-Secondary Pathways (15:35 – 22:28)

  • Importance of building strong relationships with alumni to support their career decisions.
  • Encouraging authentic connections to guide alumni through post-secondary pathways and career choices.

Empowering Young People for Success (23:59 – 25:42)

  • Emphasis on purposeful career choices and providing impactful opportunities for youth.
  • Appreciation for collaborative efforts in driving educational advancements and economic impact.

Getting Smart Staff

The Getting Smart Staff believes in learning out loud and always being an advocate for things that we are excited about. As a result, we write a lot. Do you have a story we should cover? Email [email protected]

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