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\Guides and Tools
Total ( 2 )
L.A. Compact, Boston Compact, Pittsburgh Compact
Community Compacts in workforce development were first modeled by the city of Boston, which crafted an agreement in which community leaders offered public "pledges" to insure that the city's youth successfully graduated from high school. Although such compacts could be used to advance many different policy agendas in workforce development, most of them remain focused on youth achievement. Los Angeles, Boston, and Pittsburgh provide relatively mature examples of compacts and how they work. [Online sites]
Workforce Board Leader Contributions Tool
This Workforce Board Leader Contributions tool helps board members decide where they would like to contribute to the work of the board. Board leadership may add or delete items as they see fit before sharing with board members to hone in on particular areas of interest. This tool helps boards make sure they utilize the full set of skills that members have to offer. Developed by the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training (ETA) and Social Policy Research Associates (SPR). [Inquiry Tool, 2013]
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