Connect2Success

Participating Organizations

  • KnowledgeWorks Foundation, Cincinnati, OH
  • YWCA of Greater Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH
  • Urban League of Greater Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH
  • Urban Appalachian Council, Cincinnati, OH
  • Lower Price Hill Community School, Cincinnati, OH
  • Literacy Center West, Cincinnati, OH
  • Easter Seals Work Resource Center, Cincinnati, OH
  • Cincinnati Public Schools, Cincinnati, OH
  • Cincinnati Human Relations Commission, Cincinnati, OH
  • Cincinnati Hamilton County Community Action Agency, Cincinnati, OH
  • Great Oaks Career Campuses, Gateway to Success, Cincinnati, OH

Please note that all data below was derived from the collaboration's nomination for the Collaboration Prize. None of the submitted data were independently verified for accuracy.

Formation

  • Joint Programming to launch and manage one or more programs
  • An alliance or similar collaborative structure through which members retain structural autonomy and have defined roles and responsibilities to achieve specific social goals or purposes
County
  • Education
  • Other
  • Children and Youth
  • People with Disabilities
  • Other
2007
  • Expand reach and/or range of services / programs
  • Address unmet and/or escalating community need
  • Leverage complementary strengths and/or assets
  • Advancement of a shared goal
  • Response to a community need
Community leader(s) / organization(s)
>10
  • Suggested / encouraged the collaboration
  • Provided endorsement of the project
Yes
  • To develop a business plan or strategic plan for the collaboration
  • To facilitate negotiations or discussions that led to the formation of the collaboration

Connect2Success (C2S) grew from concern about the high number of youth in Hamilton County that had dropped out of school. Community agencies and education representatives came together in 2007 to explore successful programs and develop a plan to assist youth to reconnect to the education system and to move them into postsecondary education and stable employment. They developed an integrated approach that was youth centered and had a no wrong doors approach. The broad based approach, with a focus on including grassroots agencies that understood the issues facing the youth and had built a trusting relationship with them was key to creating an open and inviting, therefore successful, program. The key element in achieving success was the depth, breadth and commitment of the partners. Partners were identified by approaching successful programs that were interested in collaboration. C2S engaged education providers including Cincinnati Public Schools, neighborhood based GED sites and alternative education providers including credit recovery centers and charter schools, agencies located in neighborhoods with high concentrations of dropouts and those that target services to incarcerated youth and youth with disabilities. The partners jointly developed goals and guiding principles. The MOU includes two key components; a requirement that to receive funding partners must demonstrate that the services are over and above their normal program, and rules for shared fundraising. Monthly reports show services provided & progress toward education/employment goals set at enrollment. The emphasis is on diversity, both in populations served and geographic distribution and quality of services. Two months into the second year of funding, the County withdrew the TANF funding. This created a major disruption for those agencies serving that population and several partners withdrew due to an inability to fund the extra services required. Cincinnati State committed to providing funding for core services, including intake, coordination and referrals. The College secured funding from foundations and is meeting intake goals and working with the remaining providers to deliver the needed services.

Management

Co-Executive Directors

Lead partners are Cincinnati State and Jobs for Cincinnati Graduates (JCG). Cincinnati State manages the central records and overall tracking of participants and is the primary intake site for the program. JCG serves WIA youth. Initially the partners met monthly to develop the program. Committees were created to develop a structure and process for the program and delivering services, facilitated by KnowledgeWorks foundation. The management structure was determined by the County funding, which required different selection criteria and reporting requirements based on the funding source. The partners provide monthly reports to insure that all participants are making adequate progress and identify progress. The partners meet quarterly or more frequently if a need arises, to discuss issues, develop solutions and improve program processes. The intense and collaborative early planning process created clear goals and processes that provide the basis for program operation and cooperation. The partners are all stable organizations that have experience in serving the target population and derive benefit from their participation in C2S. C2S does not dictate how services will be provided but does monitor progress toward goal achievement for individual participants. The quarterly meetings include discussions of needed changes and sustainability. The management structure yields improved outcomes because it does not interfere with the ongoing operations of the partners, eliminates duplication of services and provides funding for critical added services. Partners deliver services to participants according to their agency protocols while focusing on the goals of C2S. The ability to share resources has made an increase in participants served possible and has led to improved outcomes. C2S also provides access to funding for support services, including temporary child care, transportation, clothing, and food, allowing participants to concentrate on reaching their goals and agencies to support clients in ways they might not have been able to before. Access to employment support services through partner agencies has helped agencies without that resource to help clients improve long term outcomes. For the participants, having a single coach provides stability and promotes a trusting relationship. The availability of a single data system allows agencies to check on the progress of participants more easily. C2S provides a clear structure, access to increased resources and builds on the strengths of the program partners and affiliates. In the first year, 707 youth came to C2S offices at partner sites. Of these youth, 471 participated in intake assessments and were served by C2S with 98% still engaged or gaining a diploma or certificate and/or employment. While a final report has not been completed for the second year, more than 500 additional participants have been served with similar results.

Challenges

  • Defining and measuring success
  • Achieving shared vision
  • Clarifying partner roles

C2S addresses challenges by drawing on the strength of the partners, and their knowledge of the target population and the community. The openness of the development process built trust and helped to keep partners involved even when the County cut funding. Solutions are reached by a process of open discussions and consensus building. KnowledgeWorks facilitates discussions and brings in outside experts when input was needed on best practices, data management and other key areas. The loss of funding was a monumental challenge. Cincinnati State was able to obtain contributions from two Board members that helped to stabilize the program in the short term and has reorganized some programs to spread the costs. The College is also paying for grant writing services to find additional support and KnowledgeWorks Foundation is reaching out to donors on behalf of C2S. A short and long term sustainability plan was developed and is being implemented.

Impact

  • Financial savings - Combined / coordinated marketing
  • Financial savings - Shared development function
  • Greater ability for each partner to focus on core competency - Greater ability to allocate resources to areas of need
  • Reduction in overall cost per unit of service - Reduction in overall cost per unit of service
  • Increase in number of clients / individuals / organizations served
  • Greater coordination of services (less overlap, duplication, fragmentation)

The internal outcomes such as internal impacts on organizations are measured informally through discussions at partner meetings which have resulted in changes in processes. The 18 month cost per youth for 649 drop-outs to receive in-depth, comprehensive educational and life-coach assistance and guidance was $2,133. If in-kind and leveraged funding is included the cost was $3,218. The cost to the community in future earnings of NOT serving these 649 dropouts is $129,800,000.

Model

C2S shows that tough social problems can be tackled with patience, hard work, honesty and trust. The lengthy upfront work was critical to insuring that everyone was on the same page and comfortable with the direction the program was heading. Clear written agreements provide less room for inadvertent misunderstanding and frequent meetings to share concerns help smooth the way.

Efficiencies Achieved

Connect2Success uses the Strive Six Sigma process to evaluative program success and has Strive Stage One endorsement. Partner agencies submit participant progress reports monthly documenting progress toward the goals defined in the participants’ Individual Career Plan, which defines educational and career goals, barriers and needs. The report documents services provided and progress toward education/employment goals. An online data base provides documentation for reports to funders.
Connect2Success allows organizations serving the target audience to provide additional services and serve additional participants at a minimal increase in cost. This is possible because of the support for intake provided by the members of the Collaboration and payments that supplement, not supplant, existing agency funding. For example Cincinnati Public Schools provides GED services at no cost because they have State funding for the service. Program partners provide Life Coach services for a set payment of $250 per quarter per participant, payable upon documentation of service provision. The Life Coach is responsible for maintaining contact with the participant, identifying potential barriers, providing ongoing counseling and doing what is necessary to ensure success. A similar payment is provided for Employment Coaching which includes services such as resume preparation, Career Interest Inventories, connections to employers and follow-up for a minimum of six months after employment.

The majority of participants are enrolled through Cincinnati State. Many participants enroll after taking the GED or GED Practice Test at the College and failing to pass. Cincinnati State has one of the largest State certified GED Practice Test sites in Ohio. Before C2S many of those who failed the test had no clear path to success through support and coordinated services. C2S has a no wrong door policy ensuring that participants can come to any partner site, fill out intake forms and receive services from the partner or partners that can best meet their needs.

Program Highlights for 2009/2010
Number of youth enrolled .........................................558
Number of youth that earned a GED or High School Diploma.......... 43
Number of youth entering postsecondary education.................. 49
Number of youth earning a credit bearing certificate.............. 26
Number of youth entering employment............................... 91
Number of youth still engaged in the program......................410
Since its inception, C2S has served more than 1,200 youth.

The 2010 Schott 50 State Report on Public Education and Black Males reported that in 2007/08, Cincinnati graduated 33% of African American males and 54% of White males. The economic costs of the dropout problem are not only personal, they are also societal. Industry needs skilled workers and the productive capacity of educated workers; industry suffers when students drop out of school. Because of their diminished earning power, dropouts as a whole make a proportionately smaller contribution through taxes, while the dysfunctions associated with dropping out–higher rates of admission to mental hospitals, higher rates of single parenthood, higher suicide rates, higher rates of incarceration (national studies show that up to 8 out of 10 inmates arrive at prison without a diploma)–all result in an enormous burden on the public sector and its tax dollars. Improving high school graduation rates can produce significant wage increases, resulting in healthier economies, lower crime rates and also savings in health care costs, according to calculations by the Alliance for Excellent Education (Saving Futures, Saving Dollars: The Impact of Education on Crime Reduction and Earnings, Issue Brief, August 2006.)

No longer can a person take a job on the line in a manufacturing facility and expect to earn a living that will support a family. Young people 17-24 who have not graduated from high school face a much more difficult time obtaining employment than their more educated peers. While the current recession has harmed employment prospects for low-skill workers, the abundance of such workers and the lack of a sufficiently educated and trained work force to fill existing jobs has been a drag on both our economic vitality and local resources. Persons without a diploma have the lowest labor force participation rate, the highest unemployment and the lowest income. Conversely, the more education one has, the higher the percentage of labor force participation, the lowest incidence of unemployment and the highest per capita income.

Americans without a high school diploma have considerably lower earning power and job opportunities in today’s workforce. Over a working lifetime from ages 18-64, high school dropouts are estimated to earn $400,000 less than those that graduated from high school. For males, the lifetime earnings loss is nearly $485,000 and exceeds $500,000 in many large states. Due to their lower lifetime earnings and other sources of market incomes, dropouts will contribute far less in federal, state, and local taxes than they will receive in cash benefits, in-kind transfers, and correctional costs. Over their lifetimes, this will impose a net fiscal burden on the rest of society. By contrast, adults with high school diplomas contribute major fiscal benefits to the country over their lifetime. The combined lifetime fiscal benefits––including the payment of payroll, federal, and state income taxes––could amount to more than $250,000 per graduated student. Such a public fiscal benefit more than outweighs the estimated cost of enrolling a student who has dropped out.

The 18 month cost per youth for 649 drop-outs to receive in-depth, comprehensive educational and life-coach assistance and guidance was $2,133. If in-kind and leveraged funding is included the cost was $3,218. The cost to the community in future earnings of NOT serving these 649 dropouts is $129,800,000 based on the difference in mean earnings over an average working life of 45 years (The Big Payoff: Educational Attainment and Synthetic Estimates of Work-Life Earnings, U.S. Department of Commerce, Economics and Statistics Administration 2002.)

Evolution

Connect2Success grew from concern about the high number of youth in Hamilton County that had dropped out of school. Community agencies and education representatives came together in 2007 to explore successful programs and develop a plan to assist youth to reconnect to the education system and to move them into postsecondary education and stable employment. Initially the partners met monthly to develop the program. Committees were created to develop a structure and process for the program and delivering services, facilitated by the KnowledgeWorks foundation. After several months of discussion and planning, the group approached the Hamilton County Commissioners to present the framework of the planned program. The Commissioners made a two year commitment, with 50% for WIA eligible youth and 50% for those eligible for TANF funding. The management structure was determined by the County funding, which required different selection criteria and reporting requirements based on the funding source. Cincinnati State took the lead role for TANF eligible participants and Jobs for Cincinnati Graduates led for WIA eligible participants.

The intense and collaborative early planning process created clear goals and processes that provide the basis for program operation and cooperation. The partners are all stable organizations that have experience in serving the target population and derive benefit from their participation in C2S. C2S does not dictate how services will be provided but does monitor progress toward goal achievement for individual participants. Quarterly meetings include discussions of needed changes and sustainability. The management structure yields improved outcomes because it does not interfere with the ongoing operations of the partners, eliminates duplication of services and provides funding for critical added services. Partners deliver services to participants according to their agency protocols while focusing on the goals of C2S. The ability to share resources has made an increase in participants served possible and has led to improved outcomes. C2S also provides access to funding for support services, including temporary child care, transportation, clothing, and food, allowing participants to concentrate on reaching their goals and agencies to support clients in ways they might not have been able to before. The College is also able to draw on other College programs, particularly the Educational Opportunity Center, which has federal funding for those seeking to enroll in postsecondary education.

Access to employment support services through partner agencies has enabled agencies without that resource to help clients improve long term outcomes. For the participants, having a single coach provides stability and promotes a trusting relationship. The availability of a single data system allows agencies to check on the progress of participants more easily. C2S provides a clear structure, access to increased resources and builds on the strengths of the program partners and affiliates

Two months into the second year of funding, the County withdrew the TANF funding due to a revenue shortfall at the County. This created a major disruption for those agencies serving that population and several partners withdrew due to an inability to fund the extra services required. Cincinnati State committed to providing funding for core services, including intake, coordination and referrals. The College secured funding from College Board members and local foundations and is meeting intake goals and working with the remaining providers to deliver the needed services. The College hopes to reach full funding levels over the next year, allowing C2S to significantly increase the number served and add additional partners.

The success of C2S is measured primarily by the success of participants. Quantitative measures, such as progress toward individualized goals, numbers gaining a GED, high school diploma or certificate, gaining employment and entering postsecondary education are tracked. In addition, qualitative measures are also reviewed, including surveys from participants and partner discussions of issues that potentially block progress.

Connect2Success can serve as an example of diverse organizations coming together to work on solutions to social barriers that, when reduced, result both in improved quality of life for participants and significant savings for the community. C2S shows that tough social problems can be tackled with patience, hard work, honesty and trust. The lengthy upfront work was critical to insuring that everyone was on the same page and comfortable with the direction the program was heading. Clear written agreements provide less room for inadvertent misunderstanding and frequent meetings to share concerns help smooth the way.

Back to Top