Aspire Toledo and the StriveTogether Theory of Action

Aspire Toledo is part of the StriveTogether network of community organizations dedicated to improving outcomes for young people through community impact and continuous improvement. As a member of the StriveTogether, Aspire Toledo adheres to a rigorous framework, based on a number of milestones strategically designed to create a culture of cooperation and partnership between every group of stakeholders within a community. StriveTogether refers to this framework as the Theory of Action,

The StriveTogether Theory of Action

The StriveTogether Theory of Action consists of five distinct levels of achievement, which they call Gateways. In order to move from one Gateway into the next, Aspire Toledo and other organizations within the network must demonstrate increased capabilities according to a set of standards in which the community is engaged, locally defined disparities are eliminated, a culture of continuous improvement is established, and existing assets are leveraged. Each of the five Gateways has its own set of criteria according to four Pillars. Here’s how the Gateways and their Pillars are presented.

Gateway 1: Exploring. This is the first phase, in which partnerships are initially formed and a plan is first formalized.

  • Pillar 1: Shared Community Vision.
    • Stakeholders from across the community come together to organize a cradle-to-career vision for the region. Leadership, accountability structures and messaging are established.
  • Pillar 2: Evidence-Based Decision Making.
    • The partnership selects community-level outcomes and core indicators.
  • Pillar 3: Collaborative Action.
    • The community commits to a model based on continuous improvement.
  • Pillar 4: Investment and Sustainability.
    • An anchor entity is established and funders are engaged.

Gateway 2: Emerging. In this phase, an organizational structure is in place, and a baseline is established.

  • Pillar 1: Shared Community Vision.
    • Disaggregated baseline data is available for the community’s perusal.
  • Pillar 2: Evidence-Based Decision Making.
    • Baseline data is collected for key sub-populations, and a set of core indicators is prioritized.
  • Pillar 3: Collaborative Action.
    • Collaborative Action Networks are engaged to improve community-level outcomes.
  • Pillar 4: Investment and Sustainability.
    • Partners provide operations funding for the organization.

Aspire Toledo is currently at the Emerging Gateway, so data has been central to the reporting we’ve presented to the community. As Aspire Toledo continues to move forward, the balance will shift away from data collection and into more concrete action.

Gateway 3: Sustaining. At this point, the structures are all in place, and the organization is beginning to leverage even more community assets to effect change within the core indicators.

  • Pillar 1: Shared Community Vision.
    • A consistent message is being communicated across all internal partners, and roles and responsibilities are clearly defined.
  • Pillar 2: Evidence-Based Decision Making.
    • Indicators are being continually refined to increase accuracy and validity; partners are connected with student-level data.
  • Pillar 3: Collaborative Action.
    • Collaborative Action Networks are identifying opportunities and barriers, enabling them to take action to improve outcomes
  • Pillar 4: Investment and Sustainability.
    • Resources are allocated to improve community-level outcomes, and a collective advocacy agenda is developed to change local, state, or national policy.

Aspire Toledo is currently undergoing the assessments necessary to move into the Sustaining category. We will keep you apprised of our progress — watch this space for updates!

Gateway 4: Systems Change. Here’s where we truly start to see exciting improvements within the community. As the structures prove themselves durable, services organizations have access to the student-level data that will empower them to leverage their capacities.

  • Pillar 1: Shared Community Vision.
    • Accountability is firmly in place, and successes and challenges are effectively communicated.
  • Pillar 2: Evidence-Based Decision Making.
    • Student-level data is shared appropriately across partners in a timely manner.
  • Pillar 3: Collaborative Action.
    • Partners use continuous improvement to take what’s working and share it, so that outcomes can be improved.
  • Pillar 4: Investment and Sustainability.
    • Funding is in place to not only sustain activities, but also to foster an environment of continuous improvement.

Gateway 5: Proof Point. A community at Proof Point is one that is seeing indicators improving. This is the ultimate goal for organizations in the StriveTogether network, and Aspire Toledo is working diligently to see this become a reality.

Aspire Toledo: The Path to Proof Point

To make the goal of Proof Point a reality, Aspire Toledo is working with stakeholders from all walks of life, listening to their concerns and helping to facilitate solutions. The greater Toledo area is filled with passionate people dedicated to improving the lives of our young people. By taking a data-driven approach to locate places where improvements can be made effectively and efficiently, we can see a brighter future sooner than ever.