“Preparing Students for College and Career Success”
Fresno Unified School District
Young people in Fresno face daunting challenges as they pursue their goals in school and in life. More than 87% of students in the Fresno Unified School District live below the federal poverty line. Beyond the reality of that economic indicator, children in Fresno are also often struggling with chronic malnutrition, intermittent homelessness, behavioral and emotional problems, substance abuse, violent crime, insecure family units, insufficient academic support and limited local career opportunities toward which to aspire.
Strong local leadership in the school district has helped increase K-12 success over the past several years, with the California Department of Education recently announcing that high school graduation rates in Fresno increased to 82% last year. Despite that progress, however, there is increasing evidence that local high school graduates struggle significantly when attending community colleges or pursuing living-wage jobs. A recent report from the Brookings Institution found that Fresno has one of the highest rates of ‘disconnected youth’ in the Nation, with 17% of 20-24 year-olds who are neither enrolled in school nor currently employed.
Recognizing the pressing nature of this challenge, leaders throughout the Fresno community are working to coordinate their efforts to help young people matriculate from high school and continue to succeed after graduation. In June 2016, the Fresno Unified Higher Education Partnership, made up of leaders from Fresno Unified School District, UC Merced, Fresno State University and the State Center Community College District, announced it would bolster efforts to share data and create pathways to college.
The Fresno Unified School District is now partnering with FUSE Corps to host an executive-level Fellow for one year who will help create a comprehensive strategic plan that guides the region’s efforts to increase post-secondary success rates and better prepare young people for employment after high school. The Fellow will play a key role in helping to align the perspectives of stakeholders, develop a roadmap of innovative solutions, and implement demonstration projects that help build momentum for continuing investments. A key part of this project will also include developing a common definition among all key stakeholders of what constitutes ‘success’ for individual students and for the region.
The Fellow will begin by looking at current efforts within the Fresno region to achieve the goals of improved high school graduation rates, increased college attendance without remediation, higher rates of college completion, and the expansion of career technical education. The Fellow will meet with all of the various stakeholders, including elected officials, Fresno Unified staff and educators, representatives from local colleges, school board members, community members and others to understand the unique needs and perspectives of each stakeholder group. The Fellow will also research the best practices being employed in other cities and schools throughout the country in order to identify innovative solutions that could be implemented in Fresno.
Part of this effort will be to determine a common definition of success for a range of individual students who may graduate high school on a trajectory toward direct employment, technical education programs, or two-year and four-year college programs. Factors such as academic, financial, health and social standing will be taken into consideration along with various options for job and career trajectories. Overall success for the region will also work to be identified, in developing common goals on which all key stakeholders can agree regarding the total numbers of students who are prepared for different technical and academic paths after high school and the broader definitions of how talent pipelines feed into the overall workforce and economic goals for the region.
The Fellow will then work with stakeholders to develop a strategic plan that lays out specific recommendations to help achieve the partnership’s overall goals. The plan will be designed to leverage financial, human and intellectual capital investments from the region’s largest educational institutions in order to achieve their maximum potential impact. The Fellow will establish plans to address gaps in the current educational system, most notably the lack of school-based programs focused on career technical education. The plan will identify one or more demonstration projects that can be implemented during the course of the fellowship and help get them off the ground.
The Fellow will also work to assess the specific skills and academic competencies that are required for successful participation in post-secondary programs at the region’s community colleagues. Working backward from this list of prerequisites, the Fellow will collect and analyze data from across various systems to identify specific areas in which the current K12 educational system is failing to ensure that high school graduates are truly ‘college ready.” In partnership with various institutions, the Fellow will attempt to develop an interdisciplinary approach to closing these gaps and increasing the success rate of Fresno students who advance to college-level programs.
- Understand current efforts to achieve goals and research best practices – Conduct a comprehensive inventory of all educational improvement efforts currently being undertaken locally, inclusive of an assessment of the relative efficacy and impact of each program. Develop a plan for stakeholder engagement within each program. Identify gaps in the current system and where there are opportunities to fill those gaps, particularly with regard to specific skills and academic competencies that the K12 system is failing to provide to college-bound graduates. Research the practices of other cities, such as Long Beach, who have developed effective partnerships between their public schools and community colleges.
- Communicate and engage with stakeholders – Set up lines of communication with all stakeholders and establish regular meeting times. Understand what goals are most important to all stakeholders and build consensus around those goals. Look for opportunities to strengthen partnerships between entities that have not historically worked well together. Seek out opportunities to forge new partnerships, including private companies that have expressed interest in working with the district.
- Develop a detailed strategic plan – Create a comprehensive strategic plan that presents a clear roadmap for the next three to five years. The plan should offer specific recommendations and projects to be implemented and should describe how each one will help push forward the goals of the city regarding graduation rates, college attendance and completion, and career technical education. It should also include who is responsible for each project and what their roles are, specific timetables for completion, and how success will be measured.
- Map out and implement demonstration projects – Design and implement demonstration projects to achieve early wins and show that the plan is working. Highlight successful projects with a communications campaign that educates stakeholders and community members about the initiative and helps build support and consensus.
- Michael Hanson, Superintendent, Fresno Unified School District, will supervise the Fellow and serve as the executive champion to ensure that this project achieves its full potential for impact.
- Bob Nelson, Chief of Staff, Fresno Unified School District, will work directly with the Fellow on a day-to-day basis to support and oversee progress toward goals.
- Other key stakeholders will include:
- Paul Parnell, Chancellor, State Center Community College District
- Joe Castro, President, California State University at Fresno
- Jim Yovino, Superintendent, Fresno County Office of Education
- Sally Fowler, Executive Officer, Fresno Unified School District
- Cheryl Sullivan, Interim President, Fresno City College
- At least 15 years of professional experience in a relevant field, particularly with a strong background in management consulting, strategic planning, project management, organizational development and/or communications. Educational experience is a plus but not required.
- Interest in creating educational and career opportunities for underserved young people. Desire to take on difficult issues of race, class and social justice and make a profound difference in people’s lives.
- Strong record of success engaging various cross-sector stakeholders and managing cross-functional teams. Ability to relate to a wide variety of diverse audiences with varying interests with strong emotional intelligence and empathy.
- Excellent stakeholder management skills and the ability to use facilitative techniques to influence people into action without direct reporting authority.
- Superior critical thinking and analytical skills, and ability to synthesize complex information into clear and concise recommendations. Exceptional written and verbal communication skills with ease in public presentations.
- Self-motivated, goal-oriented, entrepreneurial leader who is an independent worker, creatively resourceful in creating novel solutions to complex problems, persistent in obtaining information, and able to create direction and movement within potentially ambiguous environments.
- Flexibility, adaptability, persistence, humility, inclusivity and sensitivity to cultural differences.
Visit http://fuse.force.com/Careers and click the link for this role to upload a resume and complete the online application questions in lieu of a cover letter. The application process will allow you to indicate interest in more than one fellowship opportunity. You only need to submit one application. Interested candidates are encouraged to apply as soon as possible, as selections will be made on a rolling basis and specific opportunities may close quickly.
This role offers the opportunity to work full time for 12 months as an independent contractor of FUSE Corps with an annual stipend of $90,000 paid through monthly installments.
The FUSE Fellowship is an equal opportunity program with a core value of incorporating diverse perspectives. We strongly encourage candidates from all backgrounds to apply.
11 or more years
Enter some language to introduce people to what the organization is about. This will show up along with the posting.