In July 2010, the city of Raleigh, North Carolina was awarded a planning grant to improve higher education opportunities for economically disadvantaged young adults. During the planning process, community leaders formed the Raleigh Colleges and Community Collaborative (RCCC) with the goal of doubling the number of economically disadvantaged young people earning a postsecondary credential and living wage employment.
“One of the things we came to appreciate is that we needed to focus less on programming with students and youth directly and work more on capacity building. At the end of the day what we want to see is students, with a focus on economically disadvantaged youth, graduating from our high schools in greater numbers than they have been in the past. That’s always been our goal… and we will approach this in terms of building capacity that will enable the community to help the young people advance, graduate from high school, and into a postsecondary program.”
The RCCC developed the Raleigh College Center, Raleigh Future Scholars Program, the Raleigh Fellows Program, and coordinated collective impact efforts by connecting [community organizations] working on similar educational goals. Out of these initial efforts, the RCCC quickly discovered the need for such efforts to be expanded throughout Wake County.
“The Bill and Melinda Gates foundation provided the seed funding, and were very interested in municipally-based school systems. They insisted that it would be city-based, so we started out as the Raleigh Promise, and the Raleigh Colleges and Community Collaborative. What’s happened since then, and even during that period, is that we worked with a lot of people that were not just involved with the city, but with the entire county. So it became obvious to us that this was really a Wake County initiative and a Wake County collaborative.”
The RCCC [is now] the Wake Partnership for Postsecondary Success (WPPS). WPPS will continue the work of RCCC relating to the three legacy programs – now the Wake College Center, Wake Future Scholars, and Wake Fellows. WPPS also aims to address systemic challenges relating to education by connecting and convening community members, leaders, and organizations.
“We’re going to be looking at systemic issues. The first one involves growing leaders and helping leaders emerge in the community who want to do collective action and collective impact work. We’re going to begin doing workshops on leadership for collective action. The second thing we want to do is to help leaders in the community understand the entire educational system. We know that it’s not just what happens in the schools, it’s also what happens outsides of schools… We need to be thinking collaboratively about the educational system more broadly.”