Efforts are well underway in Southwest Colorado to strengthen career and college pathways for rural students. This work is critically important with a mere 19% of students who attended high school in a rural community in the United States holding a college degree (see earlier blog post).
The nonprofit Southwest Colorado Education Collaborative (SWCEC), initially comprised of five school districts (Ignacio, Bayfield, Silverton, Archuleta, and Durango 9-R) and two higher education partners (Fort Lewis College and Pueblo Community College), started working toward this goal in 2019. With support from the Response, Innovation, and Student Equity (RISE) Education Fund, the Collaborative has since expanded to include additional school districts.
Ensuring the Collaborative is well functioning, sustainable, and operating in alignment with its mission is key to achieving success in this long-term, complex cross-system work. The Colorado Lab has been supporting the Collaborative in building the infrastructure and capacity needed to monitor progress and generate creative solutions to sustain and scale the work.
A new report issued by the Colorado Lab, Measuring Success for the Southwest Colorado Education Collaborative: How the Nonprofit Provides Effective Backbone Support, identifies places throughout Stage 1 where barriers to success are most likely to occur, along with recommendations for specific data to regularly collect in order to monitor progress and support continuous improvement. Achieving this medium-term outcome is necessary before moving on to Stages 2 and 3 and then to the north star outcome for students.
“The way the Collaborative explicitly articulated their theory of change and then identified the measures needed to monitor progress toward implementation success is a model for other nonprofits,” says Dr. Kristin Klopfenstein, Director of the Colorado Lab. “By linking the data they collect to their theory of change, every organization can ensure they are collecting the right data and that it informs next steps.”
To learn more about the Colorado Lab’s support for SWCEC, contact Dr. Kristin Klopfenstein.