Career Pathways Initiative

Regional Backbone Resources

The term “Regional Backbone” refers to an organization that serves as the keeper of a guiding vision, and engages funders, partners, and community members around that vision. Although some activities, such as aligning strategies and developing shared measures, are similar to those of system builders, backbone organizations go beyond engaging partners and seek to engage the broader public. The resources in this section address:

  • Guiding partners’ collective vision and strategy – typically partners include public, private, and nonprofit industry leaders from across a range of programs, systems, and sectors.
  • Building public will – a defining characteristic of backbone organizations is that they go beyond partner collaboration to emphasize civic engagement around key issues.
  • Championing major policy changes – not just responding to policy changes or taking a position in a policy debate, but advocating for a specific program of change intended to help enact partners’ shared vision.
  • Mobilizing funding for change – not just cultivating resources for a single system, agency or program, but generating resources to help advance “the cause.”

Collective impact is a fairly new approach to community problem solving in the field of workforce development, and many Workforce Boards have embraced it. These Boards are tackling fundamental workforce issues all along the talent development continuum and positioning themselves as key community conveners and problem-solvers. In this section, we have included a number of tools from other social change sectors that may be useful for WIBs serving or aspiring to serve as backbone organizations in their communities.

Folder: Regional Backbone\Papers and Briefs
Total ( 3 )
A Tale of Two Cities (Philadelphia Workforce Investment Board)
This brief offers an example of a well-crafted, well articulated, public call-to-action. Created by the Philadelphia Workforce Investment Board, it offers a narrative for understanding the current state of Philadelphia's workforce and posits choices for policy makers as well as for individuals, firms, and community leaders. The report was an important catalyst for the city's innovative Graduate Philadelphia initiative. Workforce Investment Boards (WIBs) seeking to engage their public in meaningful ways may find this resource instructive. [Visual brief, 2007]
Building a Comprehensive Youth Employment Delivery System: Examples of Effective Practice
For disconnected, at-risk youth, employment maybe a portal for a range of education, training and support services otherwise not available to them. In order to build a successful comprehensive youth employment delivery system, it must include: a strong convening entity, and effective administrative agent, a well-trained case management arm, strong partnerships across systems that serve youth, and high quality work experience and career exposure components. This report provides best practices. [Report with Case Studies, 2010]
Understanding the Value of Backbone Organizations in Collective Impact: A Four-Part Series
Stanford Social Innovation Review ran a four-part series on the value of backbone organizations in advancing community change using a collective impact model. As Workforce Investment Boards (WIBs) are increasingly using collective action models to advance their agendas, this series may be instructive. Topics covered include: what backbone organizations are and why they matter, what they do, and what makes them effective. This topic was also covered on a recent (2013) webinar and is available for a fee on the SSIR website. [Online Brief, 2012]