What Makes a Partnership Work?
Authors: Rose Asera, Robert Gabriner, and David Hemphill
Publication: College Futures Foundation
Date: March 2017
This report compares the experiences of two regional cross-sector educational partnerships in California—the Long Beach College Promise and the Inland Empire partnership in San Bernardino and Riverside Counties—that are building educational pathways to support student success in higher education. The initial catalyst for this study was the Governor’s Incentive Award (GIA), established in the California Governor’s 2014 budget. The awards were aimed to support educational partnerships comprising schools, community colleges, and universities.
In this context, the College Futures Foundation commissioned a comparative case study in order to gain insights into strategies for developing and sustaining multi-sector partnerships that are positioned to increase student success along the educational pipeline from high school to degree achievement. The main goals for this study were the following:
- Learn about the reasons for which the case study institutions opted for a partnership strategy
- Understand how partnerships evolve and grow to scale
- Discover how the partnerships pursued their goals
- Explore the role of investment by external funders in promoting cross-sector partnerships
In order to gather as broad an understanding as possible of the components of successful intersegmental educational partnerships, two very different partnerships were examined. The Long Beach College Promise—which comprises the Long Beach Unified School District, Long Beach City College, and California State University, Long Beach—has been in existence for approximately two decades. In contrast, the Inland Empire partnership—bringing together K-12 school districts, community colleges, universities, and other organizations across San Bernardino and Riverside Counties—was recently launched in 2015.
These two initiatives differ not only in their longevity, but in the strengths of the partnerships as well as the challenges they face. For example, the Long Beach College Promise operates within a single, relatively economically stable county that houses only one institution representing each educational sector. The Inland Empire partnership, however, unites two counties and numerous institutions in one of the poorest areas of the country.