The Community Foundation of Morgan County (CFMC) has been awarded $100,000 from the Lilly Endowment to implement a workforce development program. CFMC has partnered with Regional Opportunity Initiatives, Inc., the experts in the field for workforce development in the southern region of Indiana. The Ready Schools program will bring school leadership and workforce development stakeholders together to form a strategic plan for creating a pathway to a post high school career path for every student in Monroe-Gregg school districts.

“If we are going to stop the cycle of poverty, it means providing programs for our youth to provide hope for a successful future,” stated Brittani Bentley, President of CFMC. “Giving our future leaders the opportunity to understand a career path that is attainable will create resiliency for this generation and generations after them.”

Regional Opportunity Initiatives, Inc. (ROI) is a 501(c)(3) organization committed to advancing economic and community success in the Indiana Uplands region, an 11-county region directly south of Morgan County. ROI’s team uses design-thinking protocols to support schools and communities in both creating and deploying locally relevant and demand driven strategies through the Ready Schools process.

Ready Schools is a design-thinking framework that supports school districts in aligning their K-12 curricular and programmatic offerings to the educational and workforce needs of their community and region. The goal of this initiative is to enable schools to engage business leaders, community stakeholders, parents and students in meaningful dialogue about what success means within their community. By strategically pursuing a shared vision of success, schools, employers, and community stakeholders can collaboratively advance opportunity, quality of life, and prosperity. Ultimately, the Ready Schools initiative is designed to create communities that are Ready and Aligned.

Morgan County is committed to strong partnerships between schools, students, parents, and the community. By engaging in the Ready Schools framework and adopting the following six core principles to guide the work, we will create a positive impact on the future of students and the community.

  1. Every student is engaged in a relevant path to success.

  2. Students graduate high school ready for post-secondary and career success.

  3. Meaningful and ongoing collaboration occurs among schools, industry, and community.

  4. Teaching and learning are grounded in relevancy.

  5. K-12 schools are aligned around a common vision of student success.

  6. Schools embrace the significant role they play in achieving regional prosperity.

Throughout each phase of the Ready Schools, an 8-month planning process, an ROI coach will work closely with CF Morgan County, a designated Readiness Coordinator from each participating school district, and the cross-district design team. The Readiness Coordinator will serve as the Ready Schools leader for their district, collecting feedback from local stakeholders and coordinating with designated design team members. Design team members from each district will come together to play a critical role in Ready Schools planning process and serve as positive messengers to the community.

Regional Opportunity Initiatives (ROI) will support participating districts through the first four phases of the Ready Schools design process. This process, developed by ROI and modeled on best practices for systems building and problem solving, includes:

Ready Schools-hexagram-graphic

  • Discovery Phase (3 months): The Discovery Phase engages design teams in a process of collaboration and data gathering. Through purposeful interviews with key constituencies, community members, and industry partners, the team begins to discover deeper community needs, develops a solid foundation for guiding questions, and listens to what others hope for their community schools.
  • Synthesis Phase (1 months): The Synthesis Phase builds on Discovery through learning and exploration. Here, the design team assembles the information gathered from stakeholders and begins to make sense of the needs and hopes of employers, educators, parents, and students. Context is developed by visiting model programs, researching strategies, and exploring relevant ideas to gain key insights and determine guiding questions.
  • Ideation Phase (2 months): The Ideation Phase involves having key stakeholders and the design team generate possible solutions and consider how the ideas fit together as a K-12 aligned system. The goal of Ideation is to create a pool of promising solutions to meet the needs of the students, community, and schools.
  • Refinement Phase (2 months): The Refinement Phase brings out the best solutions from Ideation and establishes a plan of action. With feedback and guidance from original stakeholders, the design team determines what will be done and develops a plan for how they will do it by building timelines, assessing needed resources, and determining roles and responsibilities of stakeholders. The goal of Refinement is to select a course of action.

Upon completion of the Ready Schools Design Process, school districts shall have:

  • An implementation plan for alignment with local workforce needs and opportunities.
  • A sustainability plan for the outlined strategies.
  • A collaborative partnership between education and industry.