Since 2014, Strada Education Network has invested more than $100 million to help more Americans get a good first job. The national nonprofit focuses on the key phases of the student life cycle: education and career planning; student success and support; and career and workforce transitions.
Like Lumina Foundation, Strada (formerly USA Funds) is based in Indianapolis and was formed in 2000 with the sale of a student loan portfolios to Sallie Mae (KnowledgeWorks in Cincinnati, Helios Education Foundation in Phoenix and College Spark in Seattle have a similar origin). Strada is unique because it built an operating network around a compelling goal.
Former Assistant Secretary of Education Carol D’Amico has been EVP at Strada during the six-year transformation. She describes the focus as “advancing the universal right to realized potential.” The mission is, “Completion With a Purpose.”
That means the goal isn’t just pushing American’s toward postsecondary degrees, it is rapid and affordable pathways to good jobs. D’Amico, like author and investor Ryan Craig, is a fan of better, faster and cheaper postsecondary learning options.
While mergers and acquisitions are common in the private sector, scaled impact in the social sector is seldom achieved by combining forces. Strada has acquired seven nonprofits that continue to operate as affiliate organizations.
- Council for Adult and Experiential Learning (CAEL) provides adult career advising and advancement services.
- College Confidential creates discussion forms and resources that inform college and career choices.
- DXtera is a consortium dedicated to transforming student and institutional outcomes in higher education.
- Education at Work provides paid work opportunities for college students so they can graduate with little to no debt and the skills they need to secure careers post-graduation.
- Emsi provides comprehensive labor market analytics to inform people looking for good work, employers looking for good people, and educators looking to build good programs.
- InsideTrack provides adaptive coaching solutions to postsecondary institutions.
- Roadtrip Nation interviews people in a wide range of jobs to provide career advice.
Seven recent grants totaling $8 million resulted from a competitive process that yielded hundreds of ideas. Recipients all leverage partnerships between postsecondary institutions, employers, and community organizations to helping students succeed in school and in the workplace.
Strada works with Gallup to gather consumer insights. They have interviewed 300,000 U.S. adults with experiences at over 3,000 postsecondary institutions about their educational experiences. Insights can be gleaned by region, by job cluster and by educational pathway.
The Strada Institute for the Future of Work supports research to build learning ecosystems for the future. “The learning ecosystem of the future must seamlessly skill, reskill and upskill adults throughout their working lives,” said Michelle R. Weise, Strada SVP. “We need flexible, direct, cost-effective learning pathways that keep up with the emergent demands of the workforce.”
A new Strada report quantifies the value of industry credentials for non-degreed adults.
Strada research and investments focus on partnerships with multiple employers, community advocates, policymakers and educators to leverage expertise in skills-based curriculum development, mentoring, professional networking and internships. They focus on adult learners, underrepresented populations, low-income and first-generation students and help them prepare for jobs in high-demand career pathways.