In 2010, the Pearson Foundation began funding the Pathways to Prosperity Project, based at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. The resulting report based on this important research was released in 2011.
Pathways to Prosperity: Meeting the Challenge of Preparing Young Americans for the 21st Century suggests that our national strategy for education and youth development has been too narrowly focused on an academic, classroom-based approach. It both examines the reasons for the United States’ national failure to prepare so many young adults, and advances a well-researched vision for ways that the United States might regain its leadership in educational attainment.
The report advocates that to do so, the nation should develop a comprehensive pathways network to serve youth in high school and beyond. It argues that we need to ask our nation’s employers to play a greatly expanded role in supporting the pathways system, and in providing more opportunities for young adults to participate in work-based learning and actual jobs related to their programs of study. It also urges a new social compact between society and our young people: a commitment that by the time they reach their mid-20s, young adults are equipped with the education and experience they need to lead a successful life as an adult.
The Pathways to Prosperity report was developed over two years of effort that included both research and working closely with partners interested the pathways challenge. An unusually wide range of organizations were involved in the project, including major corporations, leaders from K-12 and higher education, the nonprofit community, and government.
The project has also been involved in “on the ground” work in several different regions where it has collaborated with people and organizations eager to develop solutions to the challenge. So far, the project has worked with partners in Silicon Valley, Illinois, and Boston, as well as with leaders interested in developing more effective pathways to careers in health care.
Funding for the Pathways Project reflected this broad base of support. In addition to the Pearson Foundation, funders have included Accenture, the DeVry Foundation, and The General Electric Foundation. Additional support was provided by the James Irvine Foundation, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, and the Nellie Mae Education Foundation.