Twenty leaders, board members and senior staff from CFES Brilliant Pathways and Adirondack Foundation joined forces on May 23 at the CFES Center in Essex, NY, for a workshop designed to maximize their shared commitment to ensuring the success of young people across the North Country.

At the “Theory of Change Workshop,” participants developed strategies to prepare more students in the region to enter the 21st Century workforce. Unless the Adirondack Region produces more college graduates and trained workers, thousands of job are expected to go unfilled over the next decade.

“I have great passion for both organizations and think it’s really important for us to work together to find ways to elevate the youth of this area that we all love so much,” said Lawson Allen, a CFES and Adirondack Foundation board member, who funds student scholarships through both organizations with her husband Clint.

Led by Bart Morrison, associate professor in management at Assumption College, the workshop focused on planning, participation and evaluation to promote social change. Areas for collaboration were identified with education having the most crossover and potential impact.

CFES currently works with over 4,500 elementary, middle and high school students in the Adirondacks, partially supported from a $12 million federal GEAR UP grant. The goal of the grant to double the number of students who are college and career ready through mentoring, Essential Skills and pathways to college and career.

“We’ve got to work together to prepare students to fill the thousands of jobs that are going to require some form of post-secondary education over the next 10 years,” said CFES President Rick Dalton. “It’s critical to the economic vitality of the North Country and the future of its young people.”

Adirondack Foundation’s mission of strengthening communities across the North Country includes a focus on early childhood development through its Adirondack Birth to Three Alliance. Once these children enter kindergarten and move into elementary school, CFES will begin working with them to become college and career ready.

“The power of partnerships is incredibly strong,” said Cali Brooks, Adirondack Foundation President and CEO. “We can do so much more together for young people than we could alone and we are grateful to CFES Brilliant Pathways for hosting this workshop. It gave all of us a common language and methodology for teasing apart complex issues and identifying critical actions to work toward positive outcomes.”

Morrison says Change Theory is a powerful tool for organizations like CFES and the Adirondack Foundation to achieve their complimentary missions within a shared community.

“What a pleasure and honor to work with two organizations who share a deep commitment to transforming society for the better,” said Morrison, who recently joined the CFES Board of Directors. No doubt great synergistic efforts will flow from this day together. Learning together how to utilize the Change Theory Methodology has begun to disclose new and powerful paths for collaboration between CFES and the Adirondack Foundation.”