Bringing Partners Together - Eastside Pathways
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Bringing Partners Together

At the Eastside Pathways All-Partner Meeting on May 25, 2017, Stephanie Cherrington, Executive Director of Eastside Pathways, shared a Positive Pathways story – the success of the summer melt campaign that has been undertaken by the Career Pathways collaborative.

‘Summer melt’ refers to the phenomenon where kids who have graduated from high school and indicated that they will be going to college do not actually attend in the fall. The collaborative has started with a focus on Bellevue College (BC), which is the second most common college choice for Bellevue School District (BSD) students. Currently, 31 percent of BSD graduates who say they are going to Bellevue College—or 76 kids out of 242—are ‘melting’.

Interviewing Courtney Akinniyi and Emily Kolby from Bellevue College and Deb Kraft from the Bellevue School District, Stephanie asked them about the work they’ve been doing and some of the challenges they faced.

Excerpts from the interview:

Emily, can you please tell us a bit about the campaign and the role of Bellevue College?

I joined the campaign in fall 2016 and was told that 31 percent of students who indicate that they want to join BC, don’t join for whatever reason. And some students are undecided on what they want to do, and they could be encouraged to join BC. So our goals included keeping students informed about BC programs, getting connected early to those that indicated they wanted to join, and to work collaboratively with them to provide support before graduation, assisting in the registration process and addressing any issues.

Deb, can you give an example of a challenge and how the collaborative worked through it?

We begin college campus workshops in the spring of junior year and really ramp up in the fall, and as the kids were coming into our workshops, one of our challenges was that the kids couldn’t apply to BC until March. So they ended up feeling left out. And through the collaborative and the [Eastside Pathways]  leadership and with the help of Lynne Simpson, who gathered data and put it together in a way that made sense, we were able to communicate with BC and they agreed to open the applications earlier. So now in the fall of next year, our kids will be able to apply to BC just like everybody else, which is really cool!

Courtney, can you tell us what this campaign has meant for Bellevue College?

I know that Eastside Pathways is committed to students through building partnerships and one of the core indicators is postsecondary education, and that is a huge area of concern for us. One of the things I want to share is that we are really excited at helping students explore their career options early and help them through the enrollment process by bringing it to them early in high school.

What advice might you have for others who might want to venture into this type of work in a collaborative?

Deb: “I think it’s about really listening and going into any conversation with an open mind, making sure you’re finding the right people to collaborate and are open to process change as well.”

Emily: “I would add that it’s important to go back to your organization with hard data that they can understand and identify with.”

Acknowledging the collaborative efforts that led to the success of the campaign, Stephanie added: “I want to emphasize two key takeaways from this campaign. The coming together and understanding that baseline data, which we didn’t know before, is a huge success. Also, BC came in with an open attitude – what can we do differently, but still staying in our lane of expertise, to create a better system for the kids in our community.”