New Ways to Work has been a leader in addressing workplace issues since our founding in 1972. Beginning with the invention, promotion, and definition of job sharing as a way to help women and others balance work with the rest of their lives, we spent thirty years pioneering work-time alternatives — flex-time, telecommuting, and phased retirement to name a few — now all common practices in workplaces around the world. In the early 1980s, our focus expanded to apply our workplace strategies to provide better access to high-quality employment opportunities for youth enrolled in school or training programs.
For the past three decades, New Ways has been at the center of efforts to improve the way our public systems and local programs prepare our young people for their futures. Young people need better opportunities, both in and out of school, to gain the knowledge and skills critical for success in college and career. New Ways helps communities work together to build comprehensive youth-serving systems.
In the early 1980s, beginning with the development and refinement of the New Ways Workers model in San Francisco, New Ways launched a network of youth employment brokering sites that grew to 14 communities in the New Ways Workers Network. Host entities, in partnership with local schools and youth-serving organizations, included community-based organizations, chambers of commerce, local governments, and Private Industry Councils. New Ways developed a "turn-key" approach to local system-building that connected schools with workplaces and employers with classrooms. New Ways provided network members with customized management software, detailed operational procedures, sophisticated marketing approaches, templates for all materials, regular training opportunities for program staff, on line and telephone technical support, and regular opportunities for sharing information and ideas with other program sites.
Since the late 1980s, New Ways has also designed systems and developed tools, materials, and trainings that help practitioners engage workplace and community partners and provide high-quality, work-based learning experiences to support student learning. These efforts are known as The Quality Work-Based Learning Initiative.
In the early 1990s, with the advent of School-to-Work New Ways became a founding partner of the Bay Area School-to-Career Action Network and facilitated the Northern California School-to-Career Practitioners Network, an informal association of schools, community organizations, School-to-Work partnerships, technical assistance providers, and employer associations. These efforts served to launch CalSCAN (the California School-to-Career Action Network), a statewide association of partnerships facilitated by New Ways.
In 1997, New Ways Workers piloted an institute and training series with teams from 13 California STW partnerships on "Developing a Sustainable Infrastructure, Making and Managing the Employer Connection." As part of this effort, New Ways modified and created a workbook of systems planning and process tools, content-focused trainings and fact sheets, and implementation materials to help communities develop local STW partnerships.
In 1998, New Ways and Jobs for the Future joined with other national partners to implement the School-to-Work Intermediary Project, funded by the National School-to-Work office. This project promoted and strengthened intermediary practice and publicized the increasingly important role played by local intermediary organizations in improving education and supporting workforce and economic development in communities across the country.
In 1999, New Ways was selected by the California Department of Education to serve as the statewide capacity-building organization for Communities and Schools for Career Success in California. The project was conducted in partnership with the Commonwealth Corporation of Massachusetts, the California Department of Education, and the California Workforce Investment Board. New Ways supported the project with on-site coaching, technical assistance and training to four California communities. Commonly referred to as CS2 , the project focused on bringing together community resources to assist youth in the transition from middle school to high school, and from high school to further education and training or career-laddered, entry-level employment.
In 2000, the California School-to-Career Inter-Agency Partners selected New Ways and a set of partners to conduct the Employer and Labor Engagement, Work-Based Learning Tool-Kit Project. Along with its partners, New Ways developed a range of tools, materials, and capacity-building and training activities designed to increase employer and labor participation in School-to-Career initiatives, as well as tools and strategies to provide safe and legal, quality work-based learning opportunities.
In 2000, New Ways was identified by the U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Youth Services to coach seven Youth Opportunity Grantees in effective start-up and implementation of youth opportunity centers in the western states. Through this contract, New Ways staff and consultants provided on-the-ground technical assistance and training to newly developing, full-service youth centers in a number of cities, including three in California. New Ways supported the Office of Youth Services directly, adapting tools and materials to meet the needs of the YOG's around the country. New Ways designed the framework for all sites' initial work plans and the assessment utilized to measure their progress in the first year of implementation. New Ways also provided training and was responsible for the Employer Engagement track at the first annual gathering of the Youth Opportunity Grantees.
In 2001, New Ways received funding from the California Workforce Investment Board to partner with the California Workforce Association (CWA) to develop the California Youth Council Institute. Through this project, New Ways and CWA built and supported a network of Youth Councils across the state focused on building comprehensive, locally driven youth systems. Representatives of each of California's 50 Youth Councils participated in one or more institute activities between 2001 and 2005. New Ways developed a set of tools and materials designed to support Youth Councils that seek to serve as a catalyst in developing comprehensive local youth development systems in their communities. Known as the All Youth - One System frameworks, this set of process, content, and planning tools serve to strategically support the efforts of local Youth Councils to be catalytic forces in their communities, building comprehensive and connected systems that serve all youth, especially those who are most in need of support. As a result of the Youth Council Institute, New Ways has provided follow-up technical assistance to many local Youth Councils across California as well as providing advice and support to other states.
In 2002, New Ways provided direct technical assistance to the California State Youth Council, which adopted the All Youth - One System frameworks. New Ways also received the 2002 Architect of Change, Innovation in Customer Service Award for the California Youth Council Institute from the National Association of State Workforce Agencies and the U.S. Department of Labor.
In 2003, participants in the federally funded School-to-Work Intermediary Project found their connections to be so valuable that they decided to create a self-funded network to sustain their work together beyond the funded activities of the project. They selected New Ways as the facilitating partner of the resulting Intermediary Network. New Ways served as the facilitating partner of this national association of leading education, workforce, and youth development organizations working in local communities to ensure youth success for nearly a decade. Network members connect schools, communities, government agencies, philanthropy, workplace partners, and youth organizations to improve outcomes for youth and help build the future workforce. Practice Communities within the network focused on serving out-of-school youth, youth development and after-school initiatives, engaging workplace partners, and improving high schools. The INet continues today as a small self-managed network of local and national affiliate intermediaries.
New Ways and its partner, the Bay Area Council, also supported The School Executive Leadership Initiative which sought to improve low-performing schools by focusing on increasing the management and leadership skills of school leaders (primarily principals) and connecting them to private sector executives serving as coaches and resource brokers. School leaders were paired with private sector partners to support school improvement efforts and link principals with private sector resources. Quarterly learning academies brought schools and business leaders together to focus on high-need issues identified by the participating principals.
The Quality Work-Based Learning Initiative was active in a number of arenas during the early 2000s. Utilizing tools and frameworks developed for the state, New Ways facilitated several training and strategic planning sessions for more than 400 educators and youth practitioners in California during 2003. 7,431 downloads were made of work-based learning tools and materials from the New Ways website. In addition, New Ways helped the Kansas City, Kansas Public Schools link work-based learning to local academic standards. This work was supported with the implementation of the new toolkit developed by New Ways for the Kansas City Kansas schools and launched in 2003-04 school year. New Ways wok-based learning activities were evaluated by Brandeis University, receiving high marks for the quality of the tools, training, and support activities provided through the initiative.
In 2004 New Ways helped design and facilitate two new transition-assistance initiatives in California: the Youth Transition Action Team Initiative, focused on working with child welfare agencies, workforce boards, and others to ensure successful transitions for foster youth, and the Improving Transition Outcomes for Youth with Disabilities Project, seeking to demonstrate how local intermediaries can help youth with disabilities make successful transitions to the workforce and independent living. In both cases, New Ways convened key stakeholders and helped them articulate goals and implementation strategies. New Ways also provides ongoing support and technical assistance.
In 2005. New Ways began full implementation of the Youth Transition Action Team Initiative – eventually growing to engage 18 counties in the state – and the Improving Transition Outcomes for Youth with Disabilities Project, through which New Ways piloted activities in Shasta, Ventura, and San Francisco Counties. New Ways was also selected to coordinate the expansion of the Diploma Plus initiative into California. Diploma Plus was designed not only to help those young people who are being left behind by our educational system graduate, but to be ready to successfully transition to college and careers. New Ways also began expanding the scope of the Youth Council Institute beyond California to reach a national audience of state and local Youth Councils in order to help even more Youth Councils improve their practice and apply the lessons from the California Initiative.
From 2006 to 2009, New Ways expanded the Youth Transition Action Team Initiative and its work to improve outcomes for transitional foster youth. In addition to providing direct support to 18 counties in California, New Ways compiled and disseminated quality practices from around the country, provided regular trainings and workshops in both Northern and Southern California, and hosted a statewide foster youth transition policy forum in Sacramento that engaged 395 stakeholders from 44 counties to develop policy recommendations for the Senate Foster Youth Task Force. New Ways also fully implemented the expansion of Diploma Plus in California, assisting in codifying the model, developing frameworks to support implementation, and supporting the development of performance-based high schools in five California Communities.
In 2009, New Ways convened a coalition of groups in Sonoma County, California to design and launch the Sonoma County Youth Ecology Corps. The groups convened included the Sonoma County Workforce Investment Board, the Sonoma County Human Services Department, the Sonoma County Water Agency, the Sonoma County Office of Education, over 60 project hosts, and six community-based youth agencies. The design of the corps built on interests from the Water Agency in employing crews of young people through its stream maintenance program and the opportunity to leverage American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds allocated for summer jobs in the county. The resulting Sonoma County Youth Ecology Corps (SCYEC) is a jobs, workforce training, and ecosystem education program that provides youth and young adults with meaningful employment while teaching them about conservation and environmental stewardship. Crewmembers ages 14 – 24 complete needed environmental projects and make a difference in their community. The SCYEC provides youth and young adults paychecks, valuable work experience, environmental education, and the opportunity to contribute to their community through ongoing outdoor experiences. New Ways was responsible for the initial program design and implementation of the SCYEC, guiding its program development and implementation, and documenting its success.
From 2009-2011, New Ways worked with the Child and Family Policy Institute of California to design and implement the Breakthrough Series Collaborative on Independent Living Program Redesign. The project engaged multi-disciplinary teams from 12 California counties in rethinking how ILP resources and program offerings could be utilized to better prepare youth for transition to adulthood. New Ways launched the Foster Youth Pathways to Employment Initiative leveraging the Youth Transition Action Team experience through focused efforts on connecting youth to summer jobs and career development programs in high schools. New Ways hosted two statewide forums focused on sharing quality practice and developing policy recommendations to improve the career trajectories of transitioning foster youth. New Ways also conducted continued to support the Intermediary Network and Sonoma County Youth Ecology Corps. New Ways also provided assistance to the City of Chicago in the transition of Workforce Investment Act youth programs and developing program quality improvements in the Department of Family Support Services Out of School Time Initiatives. New Ways also provided consultant support in and the implementation of a city-wide, coordinated summer jobs effort, and conducted an impact assessment and analysis of the city’s Youth Career Development Center and Regional Consortia Coordinators initiatives.
In 2012, New Ways designed and delivered the Youth at the Crossroads conference, a statewide forum held in Los Angeles focused on developing strategies to support foster youth electing to participate in extended care, authorized through the implementation of the Fostering Connections and Early Adoptions Act in California. This two-day conference, was designed and facilitated by New Ways to Work and sponsored by the City and County of Los Angeles Workforce Investment Boards, the San Diego Workforce Partnership, the Riverside County Workforce Investment Board, and the City of Los Angeles Community Development Department. The primary purpose of the meeting was to encourage departments and agencies to work together and leverage each other’s services to better assist youth who choose to stay in foster care beyond the age of 18. Two hundred and seventy attendees representing counties across the state – with representation spanning from Sacramento to the Bay Area to San Diego - gathered to focus on the implementation of extended foster care in California. Child Welfare and Workforce agencies throughout California met to honestly evaluate current practices and uncover ways to move forward with a new outlook on effectively serving foster youth, especially focused on older youth in care. New Ways also supported the Intermediary Network members in the 10th anniversary spring institute, and helped support a transition to a member-facilitated network. Work also continued with the Youth Ecology Corps partners in the areas of ongoing program development, capacity building, sustainability, evaluation, and program expansion and replication and with local Youth Councils, through the provision of direct technical assistance and program support.