In 2022, the Success Network expanded its reach and impact through thoughtful convenings, engagement with students, new supports and funding opportunities for Leadership Communities, and the launch of a new policy committee:
Hosted Our Second Virtual Conference
From February 28-March 3, 2022, we hosted our second fully virtual conference. We saw a jump to more than 700 registrants, with more than 500 attendees participating in real-time and 647 views (and counting) of our session recordings. Survey results indicate that participants benefited from the conference, with attendees citing the variety of breakout sessions and the breadth and depth of speakers as highlights. At the conference, we announced the Network’s new name to reflect that our mission and vision remain constant and will continue into 2025 and beyond so that all Illinoisans can realize educational, economic, and social success.
Hosted Two Regional Meetings to Support Our Network
To supplement the conference, we hosted two in-person meetings for Leadership Communities. The first was held in Peoria for communities in southern and central Illinois, and the second in Naperville for communities in northern and western Illinois. The agenda offered increased opportunities for leaders and organizations to connect, share information, and revisit their goals related to collective action around our postsecondary attainment goals. We also shared stakeholder engagement tools, including the Stakeholder Engagement Checklist, and tools to help advance equity, including the Targeted Universalism Framework. As a result of the meetings, some communities have reframed their community goals using an equity lens and are reaching out to others who have done this well to learn best practices. Meeting surveys indicate that attendees found value in the gatherings.
Co-hosted Our First Leadership Community Site Visit
On October 5, we invited Leadership Communities to join the Peoria region’s Career Spark, a hands-on career exploration event. After the event, we hosted a meeting with leaders from Chicago Public Schools, the Champaign Education for Employment Office, the Quad Cities Junior Achievement Chapter, Black Hawk Region Pathways, and the Aurora Regional Chamber of Commerce to learn more about how to replicate similar efforts in their communities. At the meeting, Sarah Hartwick from the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association shared strategies to engage employers. We will explore opportunities to co-host site visits in 2023.
Continued to Engage the Student Advisory Council
Network Organizers continued to grow and support the Success Network’s Student Advisory Council (SAC). In October, we welcomed seven new members to replace those that graduated in June. We discussed FAFSA completion, the benefits of dual credit, how to address the challenges students face in accessing those classes, how to select courses aligned with career goals, and tools that students can use to transfer credit from two-year to four-year institutions. We also presented information on the work-based learning continuum and asked students what changes they would like to see related to work-based learning offerings at their schools. We shared those recommendations at meetings with Leadership Communities. To center student voice, we opened the conference with a Student Voices video and hosted a session with a panel of the SAC where they shared their perspectives on how adults can better support students.
Provided Funding to Leadership Communities
Network Organizers provided funding for communities to enhance their efforts in a number of strategies. In Spring, select communities were invited to apply for a new College and Career Pathway Endorsements (CCPE) grant program to implement CCPE systems and develop explicit college “currency” for CCPE earners. Applications had to be submitted by a collaborative that includes at least two high schools and a community college. The funded Leadership Community collaborations by community college are: Black Hawk College, Illinois Valley College, Kaskaskia College/Vandalia CUSD 203, Sauk Valley Community College, and Southwest Illinois College. Joliet Junior College, Parkland College, and Shawnee Community College also joined the cohort. Leadership Communities are leading the way on CCPE, and we’re excited to bolster this effort through these grants.
In partnership with the IMA Education Foundation, six Leadership Communities (Chicago, Northwest Suburbs, Peoria, Quad Cities, Rockford and Belvidere, and Sauk Valley) received awards to participate in the new Scaling Transformative Advanced Manufacturing Pathways (STAMP) initiative. STAMP is strengthening manufacturing pathways that articulate to community college programs and employment opportunities, focusing on under-represented students with one or more barriers to education, training, and employment.
Began Revamping the Cradle to Career Dashboard
Network Organizers continued working on redesigning the Success Network’s Cradle to Career Dashboard and enhancing Network data support, focusing on flexibility and sustainability. We expect to make significant progress over the next twelve months, building on what Leadership Communities have shared as their priorities for metrics and functionality.
Launched the Success Network Policy Committee
On December 14, we launched the new Success Network Policy Committee to support robust and collaborative conversations where Policy Committee members can learn about and influence policy and practice shaping student experiences throughout the education and career pipeline. The Committee helps cement a core principle of the Success Network – that innovative practices and insights from communities around Illinois should influence State policy and that communities should be supported to interpret data and policy for local implementation. This Committee will meet quarterly to review policy and practice updates, share best practices from Leadership Communities and discuss potential policy implications. If you are interested in joining the Policy Committee, please complete this form.
Began Planning the 2023 Annual Conference
On March 8, we will host the first in-person conference since 2020 at Moraine Valley Community College. Our theme is Accelerating Equitable Success. We hope you can join us for the conference and the cocktail celebration for our 10th anniversary on March 7. Check out the agenda and register. Following the conference, the Success Network will host a series of supplemental virtual sessions to build on the conference’s theme while reaching a broader audience. We look forward to seeing you — in person or virtually — in 2023!