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Real-world ready starts here.

Imagine a future in which the journey for our region’s youth from the classroom to the boardroom is paved with mentors, experiential learning, and the real-world skills they need to thrive. Imagine a future in which more of this region’s young people, particularly people of color, have the opportunity to earn a living and family-sustaining wage. Imagine a future in which Greater Washington’s employers have access to diverse talent ready to get the job done on day one, delivering real projects using world-class methodologies for the good of the region. Imagine a future in which this region’s organizations are equipped not just to recruit diverse talent, but to retain them and give them the tools to climb the career ladder. That's where NEXTversity comes in.

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Ready to talk about the problem?

In Greater Washington, there's a stark East-West socioeconomic divide that results in an ever-widening opportunity gap, primarily for people of color who live east of the Potomac River. As we explored in the April 2021 Regional Economic Development Strategy Report, the East-West divide, and the resulting opportunity gap have a cascading effect, leading to stagnant income levels and a widening wealth gap that can be most acutely felt along lines of race.

 

2021 report from the DC Policy Center explores the problem in this region in detail: In 2019, of the 415,828 District residents between the ages of 17 and 64 who were not in school, 13 percent were not working. Three-quarters of these non-working adults were Black residents without college credentials, leaving them with little hope to qualify for available jobs in the region, especially jobs with a family-sustaining wage. The same is true in other pockets of Greater Washington; nearly 50% of adults between the ages of 18 and 64 do not hold a bachelor's degree.

 

The obstacles to finding and thriving in a well-paying job with good benefits for people of color, primarily Black DMV residents, are symptoms of long-held and deeply-embedded industry practices. Those practices begin with the recruitment process, including requiring a four-year college degree for consideration, and extend long after an employee is hired into a workplace with managers who are untrained in recognizing all forms of bias and managing effectively across lines of difference.

EXISTING CHALLENGES
 
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Fewer than 12% of professional services positions in Greater Washington are held by Black or brown individuals despite making up 53% of the region's population.

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U.S. employers added 74,000 new jobs in professional and business services in August, 2021 alone. Over 90% require a 4-year degree.

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The DMV region has 12,500 open business and professional service positions without talent to fill them.

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Ready to reimagine the journey from the classroom to the boardroom.

 

Consider this: our region's community colleges currently instruct more than 92,000 students every year, including nearly 23,000 Black and 20,000 Latinx students. While these students do not generally hold the credentials required to apply for the family-sustaining professional services jobs that serve as the top regional industry employer outside of the federal government — we can change that.

 

Together, we can ensure that these students have the 21st-century skills needed to succeed in today's workplace and deliver real projects with world class methodologies and practices that improve the regional good by integrating knowledge with know-how. In doing so, we can smash the opportunity gap that exists in our region. We can create a new pathway for lifelong learners into high-paying jobs with good benefits and challenge the status quo of how employers recruit and retain a diverse workforce.

 

We can take the best parts of traditional apprenticeship programs and incorporate them into a next generation model of lifelong learning that ensures Greater Washington's workforce is ready for what's next.

Here's how it works:

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Community college students from low-income backgrounds will enter the three-year NEXTversity program in cohorts with their peers.

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They'll work side-by-side with a trained mentor on complex projects using world-class methodologies and practices to deliver results for the region, learning the professional and 21st Century professional skills that they need to succeed along the way.

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While earning their Associate's Degree, students will accelerate their time to degree through real-life learning and earning of wages, with increasing responsibility on the job and wrap-around supports to ensure appropriate aptitude and progression.

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A blend of training and ongoing learning events will help learners gain professional service skills, including the delivery of complex projects, while mentorship programs and networking events with local leaders will help them develop interpersonal flexibility and emotional skills.

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Project assignments will rotate, introducing learners to a variety of industries and project types. Scheduled checkpoints with advisors and peers will offer opportunities to reflect on their journey, course correct, strengthen areas of challenge, share ideas, experiences, and perspectives.

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Throughout the program, professional service organizations will have opportunities to follow the learner journeys, offer guidance, and consider open roles that match skills and interests.

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Graduates will receive an industry-recognized certificate and become certified NEXTversity graduates.

Ready to integrate knowledge with know-how.

NEXTversity will deliver a comprehensive program that provides a pathway for underrepresented populations to gain the professional skills needed to access a high-end job with the potential for succession into subsequent leadership roles within professional service organizations in our region. It will also provide learning and support for managers to become better-equipped to manage and retain diverse employees.

 

We're aiming to launch a pilot with 50 students in 2022 and eventually scale to 175 students per year.

The result will be a new regional workforce pathway that reduces employment insecurity for some of our most vulnerable neighbors and builds a more diverse, resilient regional workforce.

 

NEXTversity OUTCOMES

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An increased diverse talent leadership pool that reflects the diversity of Greater Washington

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Improved return on investment for employers and increased retention of diverse employees

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Aligned knowledge and know-how to get the job done on day one

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Enhanced equitable access to new innovations

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Balancing mechanism during employment fluctuations

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Reduced employer costs and increased talent pool quality and match

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Increased access to family-sustaining jobs for traditionally disadvantaged populations in Greater Washington

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Steering Committee

 

CO-CHAIRS

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MARY BRADY

The Economic Club of Washington, D.C.

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DR. ANNE KRESS

Northern Virginia Community College

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DR. FALECIA D. WILLIAMS

Prince George's
Community College

PUBLIC SECTOR

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION

Dr. Ed Pacchetti

METROPOLITAN WASHINGTON COUNCIL OF GOVERNMENTS

Chuck Bean

DC WORKFORCE INVESTMENT COUNCIL

Suzanne Towns

EMPLOY PRINCE GEORGE'S, INC.

Walter Simmons

ALEXANDRIA/ ARLINGTON REGIONAL WORKFORCE COUNCIL

Dave Remick

NATIONAL GOVERNORS ASSOCIATION

Rachel Hirsch

WORKSOURCE MONTGOMERY

Anthony Featherstone

INDUSTRY

ACCENTURE

Beca Driscoll

BAKER TILLY

Monica Modi Dalwadi

BAKER TILLY

Kimberly Ginn

ACADEMIA

UNIVERSITY OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA

Dr. Marilyn Hamilton

MONTGOMERY COLLEGE

George Payne

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COMMUNITY & PHILANTHROPY

JOBS FOR THE FUTURE

David Soo

ANNIE E. CASEY FOUNDATION

Allison Gerber

FEDERAL CITY COUNCIL

Hon. Anthony Williams

SOCIETY FOR HR MANAGEMENT (SHRM)

Nick Schacht

CITYWORKS DC

Jennie Niles

CONNECTED DMV

Stu Solomon

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HOPE FOR THE WARRIORS

Robin Kelleher

ASPEN INSTITUTE

David Croom

CAPITAL PARTNERS FOR EDUCATION

Khari Brown

Ready to get involved?

 

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