Cradle to Career: Preparing Future Generations by Curtis Battles

{3:00 minutes to read} At the end of November, I attended a community forum organized by a national education-reform organization called StriveTogether. Strive Together has numerous programs in 32 states, with 65 community partnerships formed and over 9,750 organizations united in trying to find solutions for the educational system in their area. Their approach as defined on their website:

“StriveTogether brings proven expertise, effective resources and a nationally-recognized collective impact approach that enables communities to create local education ecosystems to support children and youth from cradle to career.”

The particular forum I attended was focused on how to help students move from “cradle to career.”

The concept behind cradle to career is twofold: (1) to bring community partners together to assist the next generation of leaders; and (2) to collectively figure out what the key touchpoints are along the career journey for a young person so that they reach their desired goals as they enter the workforce.

This strategy can be first applied to students as young as preschool age — all the way to either a 4-year degree or trade school. As the student advances each year, an evaluation takes place to ensure the student has the tools and guidance necessary to become a self-sufficient and active member of society.

How are we preparing our students for the challenges to come in the next century?

Some of the touchpoints in a student’s educational career path that were discussed include:

  • Kindergarten readiness: When a child enters kindergarten, can they focus? Do they recognize letters and numbers?
  • Third-grade reading: Depending upon third-grade reading scores, communities can determine what the prison population is likely to be.
  • Secondary school: How is the child doing in mathematics? What percent are graduating from high school and are they graduating on time?
  • Higher education: Did the child go on to college or a university?

These key touchpoints help make up benchmarks in StriveTogether’s Theory of Action.

This forum brought together a variety of community leaders, educators, community organizations, local businesses, faith-based partners, and corporate entities. Ultimately, these various groups will receive the students after their time in the educational system so they have a vested interest in the outcome.

Attending this forum was particularly poignant for me because Connecticut has the largest achievement gap in the nation. We have wealthy districts that are able to provide superior educational performance, yet we also have very poor districts, like Bridgeport, Hartford, and New Haven, where attaining resources is very challenging.

This forum was a great example of the power of many versus the power of one  how everyone’s experience and expertise can work collectively to create a better future for all students, no matter their socio-economic circumstances. I urge you to help shape the next generation of leaders. This is an ongoing mission and our actions will guide today’s youth toward success. To learn more or to volunteer, please visit their website.

Curtis C. Battles