After 10 months of work with 11 higher education leaders across the country, we offer higher education and ecosystem leaders a framework and resources to start aligning regional stakeholders and partners towards building a truly equitable future.
Ecosystem alignment is critical to a more equitable future
In today’s rapidly changing economy, stakeholders ranging from higher education institutions, community-based organizations, policymakers, workforce development programs, and employers are all grappling with the challenges of evolving traditional approaches to meet the changing needs of workers and learners. However, as the education and employment landscape continues to adapt to advanced technologies and the impacts of the global pandemic, it is no longer possible to work in isolation. In fact, it is both obstructive and harmful—perpetuating gaps in wealth, access, opportunity, and outcome.
Higher education’s alignment within a regional ecosystem is a call for partnerships that are collaborative and proactive and driven by a shared vision. It is a call to close racial and economic opportunity gaps that deeply affect us all. The 2021 cohort of Designers in Residence at the Lab believe that it is imperative that higher education and its leaders seek opportunities to more effectively partner across regional ecosystems through building a resilient internal infrastructure, leveraging influence, and investing in and incentivizing innovation.
What is a regional ecosystem and what is ecosystem alignment? Who is a leader?
A series of relationships, networks, and stakeholders connected by a common geography, shared identity, or collective goal. We use the term ecosystem to imply that there are multiple interconnected and often evolving relationships, dependencies, and connection points across stakeholders.
The process by which organizations, institutions, and stakeholders within an ecosystem build: clear communication and feedback channels; a shared understanding of goals, vision, and language; a common set of metrics and process to evaluate progress to goals. Aligned ecosystems are comprised of formal and informal partnerships across stakeholders connected in this shared vision and understanding of goals.
In this work, we refer to “leaders” as designers and decision-makers with power to change processes, systems, and the experience of stakeholders within their college, university, or region. These leaders may include presidents, provosts, deans, and heads of workforce and innovation.
Are you a leader seeking to strengthen partnerships and set collaborative action steps across stakeholders?
Start conversations and set priorities for change with our Ecosystem Self-Assessment.
A tool for leaders of community-based organizations, education institutions, and workforce development agencies who seek to align their ecosystem with an equitable future state in work, vision, and goals.
This Self-Assessment is designed to catalyze conversations between partners and stakeholders, plus provides space to prioritize goals and track next steps. We offer both a built-in guide for facilitators and a downloadable workbook for varying methods of engagement.
Access the Assessment + Workbook:
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What is your regional ecosystem prioritizing? Where do you want to see your ecosystem grow?
Are you a higher ed leader wanting to strengthen partnerships toward economic mobility for all?
Start conversations and identify some starting points for change with our First Steps to Regional Transformation resource.
First Steps to Regional Transformation
An interactive resource and actionable framework that offers steps in implementing three levers for regional transformation. For each lever, we provide inquiry-based questions to dig deeper in understanding existing processes and systems, who is most affected by the outcomes of what exists, and what’s missing, alongside suggestions of short-term actions to kickstart each inquiry. We recommend using this resource after completion of the Ecosystems Self-Assessment, as we offer inquiry, ideas, and actions as first steps to build towards the elements of the future state that you, partners, and stakeholders have collectively identified as priorities.Access the Resource (or Explore It Below)