Partnering for Impact: Increasing Postsecondary Success through Cross-sector Collaboration
October 10 │ 3:00 pm - 4:00 pm

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Achieve Atlanta logoCollege Advising Corps logo Achieve Atlanta, Atlanta Public Schools (APS), College Advising Corps (CAC), and OneGoal have been collaborating for four years to increase the number of APS students who seamlessly enroll in college. Together, they have worked to address critical barriers to college access—FAFSA completion, college entrance exam participation, college application submission, and match and fit advising, etc. Over this time the district’s seamless college enrollment rate has increased from 51% to 62%.

Presenters shared the model they have built to effectively support students across an entire school district – in traditional, charter, and alternative high schools – to take the necessary steps to enroll in college. This model includes four critical components:

  1. Building a shared vision;
  2. Establishing ambitious yet achievable goals and building the systems and processes to track progress toward those goals;
  3. Identifying the critical team members across the partnership to meet and reflect regularly; and
  4. Nurturing the partnership as much as the on-the-ground work.

In many cases, high schools, nonprofits and colleges are all supporting students to get to and through college. Often, these organizations are supporting the same students just at different locations or different times of the day or week. Unfortunately, when services are not coordinated, students can receive mixed messages and providers may waste time and resources duplicating efforts.  This session included some of the challenges faced and how the partners overcame those in service of the students. For example, confusion about the counselor role versus the external college adviser role plagued some schools early on. This required hashing out responsibilities, communicating the different roles, and in a few situations, being willing to work with the school adjust the model to work with unique school contexts.

This session also included examples of the processes and tools the partners have designed to set goals and track progress as well as the system for communicating across organizations from the building to the district-level.

Presenters provided recommendations and “watch outs” for those seeking to build partnerships across organizations, with a particular focus on partnering with complex organizations like school districts.