The following blog post is from the Southern Nevada regional leadership as a reflection upon their experiences in a three-year Metro Momentum Pathways project sponsored by the ECMC Foundation. It is one of a three-part series from the each of the participating sites that includes the Inland Empire / GIA in California, M7 / HERA in Milwaukee, and Southern Nevada. The purpose of this project was to improve postsecondary educational opportunities for tens of thousands of students. CCA led sites in a structured, intentionally designed process for all levels of stakeholders including practitioners, institutional administrators, and executive leadership to build leadership capacity at a regional level in order to drive this work. Each site collected, disaggregated, and analyzed their data to understand their local context, build the urgency for change, and develop a shared commitment to the work. To transform student success in higher education, CCA provided intensive technical assistance for the implementation, scaling, and continuous improvement of gamechanger strategies across the colleges and universities in each region.
One word comes to mind when reflecting upon the experiences that the CCA Metro Momentum Pathways structure brought to Southern Nevada. That word? Mobilization. Dictionary.com defines mobilization as “the process of making something capable of movement, or to have people and resources ready to move or act.” The structure and approach of the CCA Metro Momentum Pathways project was well thought out to provide a variety of purposeful experiences to the region so that we would be prepared to mobilize for action.
The initial experience to prepare the region for mobilization was through the Leadership Summit. The summit brought together leaders from our higher education institutions and system, local and state government officials, and a variety of leaders from the community. The purpose of the summit was first to formally acknowledge and celebrate the commitment for the work at the highest of leadership levels and second to ensure that we all understood the challenges that we were aiming to work through.
The second formal experience that instigated mobilization was through the CCA in-state leadership meeting. It was through this meeting that deeper levels of higher education and community leadership were provided with the opportunity to learn more about the challenges our region faced around post-secondary access, attainment, and student achievement gaps.
The third formal experience that served to mobilize the region was through the Metro Momentum Pathways Action Summit. This summit brought together teams from each of the Nevada System of Higher Education southern institutions as well as regional community leaders to dig deeper into the student achievement data from their respective institution. This experience served as a water shed moment for the institutional teams. The action summit was more than an attempt to garner buy-in for the work to come. The action summit was a well-orchestrated experience that led participants through a journey of inquiry, discovery, and a charge to move forward into immediate action.
It was through these three very intentional regional experiences that CCA was able to help mobilize the Southern Nevada community to harness the power of momentum to ignite proactive action. Together, these three events served to mobilize our region and set the stage for momentum into the final phase of mobilization—the planning academy.
The CCA planning academy were robust days filled with innovative thinking, strategic design, and implementation planning. Higher education professionals from within the Nevada system gathered with other content experts from across the country to lay the tracks for the specific strategies and tactics that would be prioritized for implementation in Southern Nevada. The work focused on specific goal setting, the establishment of policy priorities, the plan to implement best-practice CCA Gamechangers and rounded out with the development of an overarching assessment plan to measure progress following initial implementation.
So, you might be wondering what concrete strategies came out of the Southern Nevada CCA Metro Momentum Pathways work. The first major outcome was the region-wide recognition of the need for drastic math and English remediation reform. It was around this time that the Nevada Board of Regents passed a state-wide policy that required institutions to do away with traditional remediation and mandated the scaled implementation of the corequisite math and English model. Nevada colleges and universities are now finalizing their preparation for the fully scaled corequisite model to be in place for Fall 2021. We are thankful for the support that CCA provided us in implementing this gamechanger strategy.
A second major outcome of the work has centered around proactive advising. Several of the institutions in Nevada have put forth plans to not only bring student to advisor ratios down to 350:1, but to also put into place proactive advising protocols that would require students to visit with an advisor at pre-determined intervals during their academic journey. The implementation of this CCA gamechanger will continue to provoke positive student success outcomes in Nevada.
A third major outcome of the work has taken shape around doing more to support student basic needs. The focus points for Southern Nevada higher education institutions in this area is working to do more to help students overcome food insecurity, homelessness, transportation challenges and reliable childcare needs. To this end, campuses that didn’t have food pantries built them and those that already had food pantries expanded them. Community and state social service programming was integrated into the campus communities and a campus commuter bus to provide free transportation between the southern Nevada colleges was implemented. Additionally, the southern Nevada institutions scaled up their student emergency grant opportunities used to help students overcome immediate challenges that might have otherwise been a barrier to their success in college.
All these tangible, student-centered tactics that were put into place in southern Nevada have certainly proven to show early signs of success. While we celebrate these advancements, perhaps the most noteworthy outcome of the work with CCA for the region is the reinforcement of the magnitude that a collective impact approach through formal collaboration can have for a region in quickly moving goals into actions. Together, we strived to understand the challenges that our students faced. Together, we poured through data to identify immediate friction points to overcome. Together, we leaned on one another as we developed actionable tactics and strategies to put into place that would move the student progress needles in the right direction. Together, we rallied our community to do more to support the students in southern Nevada. Together, with the incredible help of CCA and ECMC Foundation, we mobilized to action!