February 19, 2014

Last month, Seattle Jobs Initiative was pleased to bring together a diverse group of more than 120 community college staff members, educators, and community-based organization staff members for our 2014 Community College + Community-Based Organization Conference! This year?s sold-out conference featured national and local experts Bob Giloth (Annie E. Casey Foundation), David Yeager (University of Texas), and Lawrence Morales (Seattle Central Community College), who presented innovative methods for increasing the success of students and program participants ? through productive persistence, the cultivation of a growth mindset, and the application of improvement science techniques.

Bob Giloth, Vice President at the Center for Community & Economic Opportunity at the Annie E. Casey Foundation, opened the morning session with an engaging presentation on innovations in the workforce and adult education fields that are taking place across the country. Highlights included:

  • The work of Boston?s Crittenton Women?s Union to infuse findings from neuroscience research into
    the training of adults and caregivers;
  • Organizations including Seattle?s Community Center for Education Results (CCER), that are using data
    and focused coalition building to improve results at key points on the education pathway; and,
  • Efforts such as the Atlanta Civic Site, where the Casey Foundation is working to bundle services to
    address the needs of two generations simultaneously, along with the needs of the communities in
    which these families live.

The session wrapped up with small group discussions, where attendees had time to discuss these highlighted efforts as well as consider how similar themes might be integrated into their work and/or organizations.

Next, David Yeager, Assistant Professor of Developmental Psychology at the University of Texas and Fellow of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, led a dynamic discussion on techniques that attendees might use to help participants and students to develop a ?growth mindset? ? or in other words, an attitude and belief that intelligence and ability can be developed in oneself, leading to a desire to learn and a tendency to embrace challenges. He also spoke about techniques to help students develop ?productive persistence? ? the tenacity and good strategies needed to persist despite challenges. The session rounded out with small group discussion, where Professor Yeager worked with attendees on developing growth mindset-promoting phrases that could be used when praising or encouraging students, or when delivering critical feedback.

The final session of the conference featured Lawrence Morales, Math Faculty at Seattle Central Community College and Associate of Improvement Science at the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. Dr. Morales discussed how improvement science techniques could be used to help students and participants to develop productive persistence. With short discussion breaks sprinkled throughout the session, attendees had time to explore how they could apply these improvement science techniques to make changes with measurable results in their own work.

Overall, conference attendees ? representing 37 organizations and educational institutions ? had an opportunity to learn and discuss new innovations in promoting educational success, all while building connections and professional relationships with others in the workforce development and adult education fields. SJI Executive Director John Kim closed the conference with this inspirational quote and poignant reminder to all about the reason we do this work:

?I’ve learned that there is no currency like trust and no catalyst like hope. There is nothing worse for building relationships than pandering, on one hand, and preaching, on the other. And the most important quality we must all strengthen in ourselves is that of a deep human empathy, for that will provide the most hope of all ? and the foundation for our collective survival.? (Jacqueline Novogratz,?The Blue Sweater: Bridging the Gap Between Rich and Poor in an Interconnected World)

Learn more about SJI conferences and convenings here.


Seattle Jobs Initiative would like to thank South Seattle Community College Georgetown Campus for the use of the Gene J. Colin Education Hall, and Farestart Restaurant for the delicious catered breakfast and lunch. Special thanks to: Frank Ashby, Holly Moore, and Betsy McConnell-Gutierrez; Anne Keeney and Rebecca Hartzler; Gary Oertli, Bob Giloth, David Yeager, and Lawrence Morales.