Better Together: Forging Partnerships for Equitable Economic Recovery

About the Series

These extraordinary times have driven home the urgent need to rethink our approach to education and economic mobility. JFF created this series for postsecondary leaders to deeply consider this question:

How can cross-sector partnerships help advance the economic well-being of those most harmed by the pandemic and underserved by traditional educational systems?

The Better Together learning series offers six virtual engagements and learning opportunities that will run from January 2021 to April 2021.

System redesign means that we get out of our siloed approach when it comes to programs, people and funding and think about how do we leverage all of this to drive change and to commit to making sure that everyone is prospering.

Kim Hunter Reed Louisiana Commissioner Higher Education

In each session, postsecondary leaders and other stakeholders will work to reimagine the current structures and approaches to postsecondary education that have furthered racial inequities and created barriers to prosperity for so many.

The series will explore how we build equitable, inclusive systems together. We’ll look at how we can step out of our silos to engage actors from K-12, adult education and 4-year educational institutions; philanthropy; workforce development boards, employers and industry leaders; and other community-based and human service organizations at the state and local levels.

Participants will walk away with a new insights, resources, and knowledge to re-design inclusive pathways for equitable education and workforce outcomes.

Who should attend?

Better Together is designed for leaders and practitioners working in state postsecondary systems and at individual community colleges, and others working in education, workforce, industry and the community who want to work across systems to create equitable outcomes in education and careers.

Upcoming and Previous Sessions

Expert discussions on key equitable economic recovery topics

  • The New DC: Federal Policy Updates & How to Leverage Public Funding for Greater Impact, March 30th, 3:30pm ET
  • State Policy: Centering Equity in Learn & Work Ecosystems, April 8th, 3:00pm ET

Previous Sessions

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Session 1: "Setting the Stage: Why Partnerships Matter More than Ever"

In this kickoff session of the Postsecondary Network’s Learning Series, Joel Vargas and Lucretia Murphy of JFF will lead a discussion on how to begin to identify high-impact and strategic community, employer, and funder partnerships that can enable postsecondary systems and institutions to be engines for long-term economic advancement.


Session 2: "Exploring Strategic Alignment between Philanthropy and the Work and Learning Ecosystem"

Philanthropy plays an important role in shaping the work and learning ecosystem, particularly in times of crisis. How can and how does an ecosystem approach enable postsecondary institutions and leaders to influence and advocate for investments and systems change to promote equitable economic opportunity? In this session, participants will engage asynchronously in a discussion with philanthropic leaders to hear what drives their investments and how participants can inform the approach of their own funders.

In this session, Director of the Evaluation Roundtable, Dr. Chera Reid; Executive Director of GreenLight Boston, Melissa Luna; Program Officer, Human Services at the Kresge Foundation, Stephanie Davison, and Ascendium Education Group's Samaad Wes Keys, engage in conversation about strategies for increasing ability to advocate with philanthropy as well as how to promote participatory grant making and facilitate active discussion with funders.

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Session 3: "Partnering to Reach New Learners"

Partnerships between community colleges and community-based organizations (CBO) can help transform students’ experiences and keep them on a path to success. These partnerships play an essential role in recruiting, supporting, and retaining learners, especially students from underrepresented populations.

In this session, leaders from community colleges and CBOs will share examples of high-impact partnerships across the country, including city- and state-level efforts, that are making a positive difference for students.

Our guests include:

  • Duncan Harris, Capital Community College (Hartford, Connecticut)
  • Precious Miller, Michigan Center for Student Success
  • Erica Orians, Michigan Center for Student Success
  • Jeff Corey, Northwest Education Access (Seattle, Washington)
  • Danika Martinez, Northwest Education Access (Seattle, Washington)
  • Hansell Torres, Northwest Education Access (Seattle, Washington)
  • Nahum Yanez, recent graduate of Seattle Central College

In presentations by these leaders and in small-group discussions, you’ll learn how to expand existing partnerships to strengthen your recruitment and improve career outcomes for underrepresented learners in your communities. You’ll also learn about a new tool for developing high-impact partnerships.

Sessions 3 Resources

Better Together Learning Series

Session 4: All Hands on Deck: Redesigning Pathways by Putting People First

The workforce and economy are in a time of rapid transformation. Postsecondary education continues to be the critical driver of economic mobility, but it’s leaving too many people behind. We need to break down silos between education, workforce development and industry sectors, rethink old assumptions and reimagine what education means, how skill development occurs and how we build systems and economies that allow everyone to thrive.

This session will begin with an overview of the radical reimaging of leaders from these three sectors and how they are blurring the lines between them. Then, participants will grapple with the issues we all face – What does it mean for our work, when it is increasingly recognized that ‘learning’ doesn’t only happen in a ‘school’? When virtual education and service delivery is no longer novel? When college and degrees don’t always connect to a job? When some jobs are known dead-ends, but we don’t fully know what lifelong careers will look like?

Participants will leave with ideas for how to build equitable pathways to careers and strategies that will enable postsecondary institutions to become more impactful drivers of economic opportunity in their regions.