Introducing Launch: Equitable and Accelerated Pathways for All

Today, EdSystems is excited to announce our selection as one of 11 states participating in Launch: Equitable & Accelerated Pathways for All. Launch is a national college and career pathways initiative that strives for every learner to have access to and succeed in high-quality and equitable pathways. Launch will challenge systemic inequities by building systems-level, next-generation solutions, providing timely and customized technical assistance, sharing out of lessons learned, and inspiring action and progress nationally.

The initiative will do so by:

  • Driving a national agenda for college and career pathways.
  • Working with state and local partnerships to advance equitable growth and scaling of pathways by tackling entrenched inequities in education and workforce systems.
  • Advancing pathways policies and strategies that help achieve greater scale and sustainability.
  • Seeding and growing next-generation models that will transform career pathways systems and dismantle entrenched barriers that perpetuate inequities in economic advancement.

Launch includes two distinct cohorts, Impact, and Innovation, representing leaders from across 11 states, including state education and workforce agencies, K-12 districts, postsecondary institutions, policymakers, and other intermediary partners. EdSystems is leading the Illinois Innovation cohort, one of five teams, and has partnered with the following state and local organizations and institutions to enhance our efforts in reducing barriers and increasing accessibility to college and career pathways for every learner:

  • Township High School District 214
  • Illinois Board of Higher Education
  • Illinois Community College Board
  • Illinois State Board of Education
  • Illinois Student Assistance Commission
  • Vandalia Community School District

Over the course of two years, the cohort will come together to engage in a full design thinking process to identify systems-level barriers to equitable access and outcomes and develop next-generation solutions for some of the most pressing challenges in college and career pathways. Site teams will perform a three-month empathy research and data collection process to gather local voices and experiences from learners and families in each state. The effort will conclude with the development of state-specific pilot projects that will be ready for testing and scaling within each state and eventually shared nationally.

“Through Launch, we are reflecting on our policies and practices and asking core questions: Are the existing systems leading to equitable student success, particularly as students transition into and through college?” asks Jonathan Furr, Executive Director. “How can we reimagine and redesign these systems to help each young person – particularly those who have been traditionally underserved – reach their full potential? The results of this work will transform not only our systems but the lives of our next generation.”

With support from the five national Launch partners, we will identify common pain points in our college and career pathways, course correct where needed, and design additional supports aimed at common areas of challenge that need to be addressed more systematically through collaborative efforts. The partners are Advance CTE, Education Strategy Group, ExcelinEd, Jobs for the Future (JFF), and New America.

“As a comprehensive high school district offering robust career pathways to our students, we continually focus on improving and scaling existing systems,” says Lazaro Lopez, Ed.D., Chairperson, Illinois Community College Board, Interim Superintendent, High School District 214, Innovation Site partner. “Through Launch, we have the space and support to investigate outcomes and transition points critical in designing an equity-focused education-to-career system that will propel students to a future defined by opportunity and mobility. We’re excited to pilot these big ideas in High School District 214 and serve as an exemplar for educators nationwide.”

This work would not be possible without the support of six national funders: Annie E. Casey Foundation, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Bloomberg Philanthropies, Carnegie Corporation, The Joyce Foundation, and Walton Family Foundation.

As we turn the corner from the pandemic and economic downturn, it is a critical time to reflect on what has worked, boldly face and dismantle what is standing in the way of progress, and continue to innovate on next-generation solutions. We look forward to updating you on our progress, efforts, and the outcomes of our work within the Launch initiative.

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