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.
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.
A 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 18 and 64 who were not in school, 13 percent were not working. Of these non-working adults, 75% 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.
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 generally do not hold the credentials required to apply for 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 professional and business skills needed to succeed in today's workplace and deliver real projects with world-class methodologies and practices. In doing so, we can eliminate 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 the future.
Here's how it works:
Working in Cohorts
Mentorship with Experts
Wrap Around Supports
Industry Recognized Certificate
NEXTversity will invite promising community college students from low-income backgrounds, with an emphasis on Black and brown students, to join the multi-year program in cohorts with their peers.
They'll work side-by-side with trained supervisors on complex projects using world-class methodologies and practices to deliver results for the region, while learning the 21st Century professional and business skills that they need to succeed in the workplace and in life.
Project assignments will rotate, introducing students to a variety of industries and project types. Scheduled checkpoints with mentors and peers will offer opportunities to reflect on their journey, course correct, strengthen areas of challenge, and share ideas, experiences, and perspectives.
Students will accelerate their time to degree through immersive, real-life learning while earning wages, with increasing job responsibilities and a blend of training and learning events to reinforce the professional skills they learn on-the-job.
NEXTversity will offer personalized assistance such as financial literacy and budgeting, technology needs, and family supports to help students thrive at NEXTversity, school, and life.
Throughout the program, professional service organizations will have opportunities to follow the students' journeys, offer guidance, and hire for open roles that match skills and interests.
When they leave NEXTversity, graduates will receive an industry-recognized certificate and become certified alumni with improved career prospects and opportunities to steward future NEXTversity cohorts.
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 30 students in 2023 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.
An increased diverse talent leadership pool that reflects the diversity of Greater Washington
Improved talent management ROI for employers and increased retention of diverse employees
Aligned knowledge and know-how to start professional work on day one
Enhanced equitable access to new career paths across multiple industries
Improved alignment between industry's job needs and education's learning programs
Reduced employer on-boarding and retention costs and increased talent pool quality and match
Increased access to family-sustaining wages for traditionally disadvantaged populations in Greater Washington
The Economic Club of Washington, D.C.
DR. ANNE KRESS
Northern Virginia Community College
DR. FALECIA D. WILLIAMS
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION
Dr. Ed Pacchetti
METROPOLITAN WASHINGTON COUNCIL OF GOVERNMENTS
MARYLAND DEPARTMENT OF LABOR
EMPLOY PRINCE GEORGE'S, INC.
ALEXANDRIA/ ARLINGTON REGIONAL WORKFORCE COUNCIL
Monica Modi Dalwadi
MCGUIRE WOODS CONSULTING
James W. Dyke Jr.
COMMUNITY & PHILANTHROPY
JOBS FOR THE FUTURE
Dr. David Soo
ANNIE E. CASEY FOUNDATION
FEDERAL CITY COUNCIL
Hon. Anthony Williams
SOCIETY FOR HR MANAGEMENT (SHRM)
STRADA EDUCATION NETWORK
Dr. Courtney McBeth
CAPITAL PARTNERS FOR EDUCATION
ASSOCIATION OF PUBLIC AND LAND-GRANT UNIVERSITIES
UNIVERSITY OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
Dr. Marilyn Hamilton
NORTHERN ARIZONA UNIVERSITY
Dr. Jonathan Gagliardi
NATIONAL GOVERNORS ASSOCIATION
DC WORKFORCE INVESTMENT COUNCIL