Building community to expand social capital insights

December 21, 2023

As we wrap up 2023, we’re looking back on a great year’s worth of learning and connecting with many of you.

This year, we deepened our work with three national intermediaries working across 20 career-connected learning sites to launch social capital pilots. Our partnerships with Education Strategy Group, Generation Schools Network, and Hawaii P-20 yielded 10 key lessons in piloting social capital initiatives within career pathways. We also partnered with AIR to conduct a developmental evaluation, analyzing student and staff data on what tools, resources, and supports could yield successful implementation at scale.

Although I’ve spent years endeavoring to document the work and voices of early innovators, this project was exciting in its scale and scope. It’s proof of how social capital research is social–it requires a community of bright, humble, and dedicated people who work tirelessly to deepen and diversify students’ networks.

That community is also critical in strengthening our ongoing efforts to distill and disseminate what we’re learning across the field. This year, we’ve had the chance to speak with and spotlight entrepreneurs, educators, researchers, and advocates, and update our “Missing Metrics” report with new analysis of emerging research and a fresh look at sample social capital survey items in the field as a result. Check out the resources below for a look back at some of those conversations and publications.

Conversations in the field:

    • Building Professional Social Capital for Black Learners and Workers hosted by JFF’s Center for Racial Economic Equity; and featuring Michael Collins, Dr. Kimberly Underwood, and Edward DeJesus unpacking the strategies and policies needed to address systemic barriers facing Black learners and workers, and to unlock deeper and broader networks throughout their education and career journeys.

Writing & analysis: 

    • “AI is making networking and social skills more critical. Are your students prepared?, Smart Brief, featuring Connected Futures, Montgomery County Partnership for Children, Apprentice Learning, and Employindy

Thank you for following our work and building the field alongside us. We look forward to continuing this critical work in 2024!

Julia Freeland Fisher

Julia is the director of education research at the Clayton Christensen Institute. Her work aims to educate policymakers and community leaders on the power of Disruptive Innovation in the K-12 and higher education spheres. Be sure to check out her book, "Who You Know: Unlocking Innovations That Expand Students' Networks"

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