In the last six years, hundreds of communities large and small have organized themselves to address fundamental concerns:
- How do we make sure our most vulnerable populations have what they need to not just survive, but thrive?
- How do we use our limited resources more wisely, and for greater impact?
- How do we guarantee our community’s competitiveness and quality of life?
In 2013, Lumina Foundation made a significant investment in communities through the Community Partnership for Attainment. Through this effort, 75 communities received financial support, technical assistance and guidance, and networking and learning opportunities. The network catalyzed some incredible work, with many communities bucking national trends in decreasing enrollment, and supporting the creation of thousands of newly credentialed residents.
As Lumina took stock of this great work, however, we determined that the best next step was focus on how those places had worked—and to bring new rigor to a field that is, by definition, as unique as the communities that contribute to it. Further, Lumina’s laser focus on educational attainment beyond high school created an opportunity to differentiate communities that are working to support today’s talent needs. While efforts to improve early-childhood and K-12 outcomes are vitally important, America’s communities cannot wait a generation to build the talent they need today.
Talent Hubs, a term coined in America Needs Talent, are designated communities that organize and align themselves around goals to offer and create multiple pathways to postsecondary success, and work to retain, attract and cultivate talent.
The Talent Hubs designation, conferred by Lumina with support from the Kresge Foundation, aims to significantly accelerate community and regional attainment efforts. These designated communities will improve the ecosystem in which students follow the pathway to, through, and out of their postsecondary experience with a high-quality credential.
Talent Hubs will undertake aligned, system-change work with both community and postsecondary institutional partners to significantly improve student outcomes and to increase attainment beyond high school. Each Hub will focus intently on one of three populations: traditional-age students; adults with some postsecondary experience but no credential; or adults with no postsecondary experience. Further, Talent Hubs are committed to closing attainment gaps between student populations. Community partners will coordinate action to ensure that students are well-supported, can connect easily to the postsecondary system, have help to overcome barriers while enrolled, and are connected to the workforce once they complete their programs. Postsecondary partners will implement aligned, evidence-based practices and policies at scale to ensure that many more students can complete a credential.
Earning a Talent Hub designation is an acknowledgment that a community has both the capacity and ability to make significant gains in postsecondary attainment. Each Hub serves as an exemplar across five key domains:
- The Equity pillar represents the community’s ability to explicitly close chronic attainment gaps between populations, particularly between racial and ethnic groups, using strategies that have been developed by viewing attainment issues through an equity lens.
- Access work alone is insufficient in meeting the overarching national goal of 60 percent attainment by the year 2025; Attainment addresses the community’s focus on postsecondary success and credential completion.
- Alignment is the degree to which communities leverage complementary bodies of work, community and institutional partners, and the network of local assets available to implement ambitious workplans for credential completion.
- Scale and Systems-change addresses the systems-level action taken by communities and postsecondary institutions to create lasting and large-scale change at both the community and institutional levels.
- Finally, Partnership Health is the extent to which communities work collaboratively to set and achieve common goals, use agreed-upon accountability tools and measures, and use data to make decisions about program direction and design.
To achieve its ambitious workplan, each Talent Hub community will receive financial, strategic, and technical assistance. Talent Hubs will learn and share best practices and common challenges through communities of practice, facilitated by national experts. Cross-site learning and collaboration will be bolstered by annual convenings, webinars, learning labs, and communication tools that elevate exemplars.
Each Talent Hub has set clear and specific targets for outcomes related to credential completion and to its discrete strategies. While these expected outcomes are often unique to each specific community, a set of common metrics will also be tracked to elevate the collective work of all Talent Hubs. Additionally, each postsecondary institution included in a Talent Hub community will provide disaggregated data on key metrics to Lumina and its partners through the National Student Clearinghouse.
Seven communities received Talent Hub designation in 2018. Those communities join seventeen others designated in 2017.