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.