Adult Education

Supporting Trenton’s Master Plan in time for the City’s 250th Anniversary

 The City of Trenton is looking ahead to a new chapter as a leading 21st-century city. In time for the 250th anniversary of its incorporation in 2042, the City envisions playing a role as a key economic and cultural hub in the region, built on education, arts, and industry. To chart its course forward, Trenton recently released Trenton 250, a comprehensive master plan reflecting a community-informed vision that will drive opportunities for citizens, businesses, and government. Through this stakeholder-driven process, Trenton has laid the groundwork for becoming a model capital city through investments in civic institutions and the construction of inclusive public spaces. We had the incredible opportunity to be on the team of consultants, led by Group Melvin Design, that supported the City of Trenton in designing this long-range plan that will drive economic development, education, housing, land use, and transit policies.

Our role focused on developing workforce and educational strategies, and helping Trenton plan for its goals of creating a vibrant economy and improving social mobility for its residents. We applied our extensive experience working within the workforce system to engage multiple local stakeholders, including the school district and the Workforce Investment Board, to determine priorities and explore opportunities to increase education levels and career trajectories for residents of all ages and backgrounds. We took a collaborative approach to our work, interviewing multiple participants and participating in brainstorming sessions with Trenton City officials and the rest of the consultant team. Also equipped with important labor market information, we delved deep into understanding what the issues were and what opportunities could be present.

Our programmatic recommendations included bolstering Pre-K to secondary education to improve graduation rates and student performance; opening new opportunities for adults to continue their education and explore relevant workforce opportunities; and encouraging lifelong learning. Specifically, we found that expanding school programs to teach more critical thinking and technology skills would drive positive employment outcomes in the future. For those beyond secondary school, we relied on our workforce expertise to identify an array of strategies that will prepare residents from a diverse range of backgrounds to attain and succeed in jobs that are and will be in high-demand.

Ultimately, we developed the education report, which outlines over 20 initiatives that came from engaging the right array of people and highlighting best practices from all over the country. Implementing these initiatives will enhance access to learning opportunities for all Trenton residents, enabling the city’s residents to access short-term job opportunities while simultaneously being prepared to take advantage of new opportunities in an ever-shifting economy.

Read the full Trenton250 plan to learn more about its vision for the future and blueprint for getting there.

July 2017 Newsletter: Combating Poverty | Supporting the Garment Industry | 2nd-Grader Focus Groups

Evaluating Collective Efforts to Reduce Poverty

In our third year supporting the Change Capital Fund – a collaboration of 17 foundations and financial institutions dedicated to the revitalization of distressed New York City neighborhoods – our impact analysis showed increased service and improved outcomes across grantees and their participants. Since Year 1, grantee programs have seen an 81% growth in the number of individuals served. In Year 3, grantees – Cypress Hill Local Development Corporation (CHLDC)St. Nick’s Alliance (St. Nick’s)Fifth Avenue Committee’s Stronger Together (Stronger Together) and New Settlement Apartments (New Settlement) – served nearly 10,000 participants in workforce, education for children and youth, and adult education programs. 

We’ve supported CCF by helping grantees establish ongoing assessment and outcome evaluation systems, identify key common measures of poverty alleviation, and work with the City to access administrative data that will facilitate measurement of outcomes and public savings associated with each initiative. Read our full report on Year 3 to see more outcomes on wage increases and educational attainment.

Working with Stakeholders to Identify Opportunities to Support the NYC Garment Industry

This summer, we’ve been facilitating the Garment Industry Steering Committee convened by Borough President Gale A. Brewer, the NYC Economic Development Corporation, and Council Member Corey Johnson. The group – which brings together elected officials, City agencies, manufacturing business owners, designers, and other Garment Center stakeholders – is charged with identifying and planning for opportunities to advance NYC’s fashion and garment industries in preparation for a review of potential zoning changes for the Garment District in Midtown. We look forward to joining Committee Chairs in announcing outcomes from the group’s process later this summer.

Talking Arts Curriculum with 2nd Graders

We recently completed an engagement helping Lincoln Center Education identify opportunities to effectively integrate arts programming to increase school outcomes for students, parents, and teachers in Community District 7 in the Bronx. To determine ways LCE might adjust its curriculum that would stick with CSD 7 students, we needed to gather feedback from elementary school students directly – not your everyday focus group audience. We got creative with our facilitation strategy and structured the focus group discussion around a picture book, Quinito’s Neighborhood/El vecindario de Quinito. This book follows a young boy walking through his neighborhood and talking with family members and neighbors about different roles they play in the community. We used images from each page to discuss key interests with the 2nd graders, such as a mural to ask about the type of art they’ve seen in their neighborhood, as well as the type of art they like to make themselves. The tactic worked, and students provided a wealth of perspective on how they perceive their community, the arts, and how they most like to engage with both. We were able to glean valuable insights as LCE thinks through.

New Virtual Reality Lab to Create Jobs through New York Works

Photo credit: ​NYU Tandon School. Leaders from NYU, Lehman, the City of New York, and City Council join for the unveiling of the hub

We were excited to see the recent announcement from NYC EDC and MOME that the NYU Tandon School of Engineering has been selected to develop and operate a hub for virtual reality and augmented reality (VR/AR) at the Brooklyn Navy Yard with a workforce development center at CUNY Lehman College. We supported the workforce component of the proposal, which will help connect New Yorkers to over 500 newly created jobs through the lab over the next ten years, positioning New York as a leader in the VR/AR industry. We look forward to seeing the implementation unfold.

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