In 2015, The James Irvine Foundation launched the Bridging the Gap initiative, designed to support successful student transitions from high school to postsecondary education. The initiative, now in its concluding phase, paid special attention to removing barriers for students of color, low-income students, and first-generation college students, who face unique challenges in their academic journeys.
Leadership. Intersegmental efforts require effective and committed leaders who can connect and rally people around ambitious goals.
Try this: Convene leaders at multiple levels of the systems. Are these leaders aligned in their thinking about the change that needs to happen to achieve a shared goal?
Data. Cross-institution data-sharing and use persisted as pain points for Bridging the Gap partnerships. Long Beach institutions organized for shared data use more readily because of the trust they built over multiple partnerships, including data sharing efforts that took place over many years.
Try this: Identify the data challenges that hinder cross-institution collaboration. Reflect on the extent to which they are technical or adaptive issues.
Mindset. Challenging assumptions about what students of color, first-generation college students, and those who come from low-income families can achieve is critically important.
Try this: Gather insights from a variety of stakeholders on root causes of the problem. Engage a sample of stakeholders in a visioning session to open up thinking about possible solutions.
Practices. Linked to mindset change, intersegmental collaboration with tangible results requires people working within the systems to adopt effective practices. The three sites implemented several practices to improve student transitions from high school to college.
Try this: Implement practices that directly engage students and educators, including opportunities for them to provide insights on improving programs and policies.
Incentives. Various incentives create a level of urgency that can make or break collaboration efforts focused on systems change. Besides institutional incentives, factors in the external context, including windows of opportunity, can prompt people to respond more quickly to a demand.
Try this: Take stock of internal and external incentives influencing the pace of progress. Consider ways to incentivize behavioral change to support a shared goal.
Read the full article about elements of successful intersegmental collaboration by Kimberly Braxton at Medium.
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