School districts, service organizations, local business leaders and government agencies are partnering in an effort to improve the lives of Pima County’s youngsters.
While there have been prior efforts focused on young people over the years, the partners say they hope their collaboration called the Pima County Cradle to Career Partnership will show more significant results.
The coalition looked at roadblocks faced by the most vulnerable youth and came up with ideas to break them down as well as measure progress.
The goals include ensuring children are prepared, succeed and graduate from school and that graduates are prepared for a career and college. They also want to make it easier for young people who drop out to reconnect with education opportunities.
Approaches to addressing the focus areas are both traditional and innovative. They range from offering professional development to boosting the quality of preschools and access to early-learning programs. They also seek the creation of re-engagement centers, where young people not in school or working have access to assessment services, referrals to support organizations and intensive case management.
By collecting data, the Cradle to Career Partnership hopes to inform others on best practices for helping students while pulling ideas from communities that have had success implementing similar initiatives.
As a starting point, the Cradle to Career Partnership collected data to identify the extent of the problem, which was described as “sobering and encouraging.”
“While many of our students are performing very well, too many are not achieving the academic milestones that are critical for future success,” a Cradle to Career baseline report states. “Stable employment that provides living wages, allows young adults to become productive and engaged citizens.
“Not only does this have implications for the community, but they will also be better able to support themselves, their families and children, ensuring future generations continue to succeed from cradle to career.”