Self-Assessment Memo

Welcome to the Talent Hub self-assessment tool.
Please read this note in its entirety before moving on.

This self-assessment tool is designed to assist local and regional partnerships in their continuous improvement efforts. It also serves as a first step toward achieving the Talent Hub designation. The tool is a series of questions, organized into six sections:

  1. General

  2. Partnership Health

  3. Alignment

  4. Equity

  5. Scale, Systems, and Sustainability

  6. Attainment and Impact

This assessment can be used as a developmental tool for any partnership looking to improve the way stakeholders work together to achieve common goals. It is especially relevant for partnerships focused on improving post-high school attainment. Partnerships are encouraged to use this tool for their own development, independent from Lumina Foundation’s Talent Hub designation process, by printing each section and distributing the survey among key stakeholders.

This tool is also the first step in the Talent Hub designation process (see below for an overview of the process). For those communities interested in determining if they are a Talent Hub, they may indicate their interest by submitting the form to Lumina in the final section. After submitting the form, you will contact Lumina to schedule an exploratory call where, among other things, the results of the form will be discussed. Instructions are included in the final stages of the form.

Important considerations when completing this form:

Honest Reflection and Assessment: This tool is only effective if the respondent is honest and reflective when answering each question. Some questions have obvious, concrete answers; others require a respondent’s subjective assessment.

Not All Yeses: Partnerships are often complex, and each is unique to its own context. Therefore, it is reasonable that a highly effective partnership will have a mix of yes, maybe, and no responses throughout the self-assessment tool. In designing the tool this way, Lumina hopes to meet partnerships where they are, provide a tool that helps partnerships achieve their goals, and encourage honest reflection among key stakeholders.

The Whole Partnership: This tool is best used when multiple key stakeholders respond to the questions. The questions address the entire partnership, not just one organization or leader. Partnerships that respond from only one perspective often create inaccurate assessments. For those engaging in the Talent Hub designation process, an inaccurate assessment will pose challenges at later phases when the partnership is asked to provide evidence to support responses. A partnership may consider sending this assessment to key stakeholders for individual reflection, followed by a group discussion, and then (if pursuing the designation) submit one response to Lumina. Doing so will create opportunities for dialogue among key partners and thus produce a more accurate assessment of the partnership.

Reserve the Right to Revise: Lumina Foundation is a learning organization, and as such applies learning generated through its strategic work on an ongoing basis. Lumina reserves the right to alter this self-assessment tool at any time.

A Note about the Designation: The Talent Hub designation is specific in many ways. For instance, it requires all of the following: cross-sector partnerships that include higher education institutions, reporting of disaggregated data to the National Student Clearinghouse, and partnerships with a specific focus on completion of credentials beyond high school. As such, Lumina and its partners are as concerned with strategic “fit” when assessing a partnership, which means that some very effective partnerships will not be eligible for Talent Hub designation.

For those interested in seeking the Talent Hub designation, more information is below.

Thank you for your interest and efforts to improve education outcomes in your community. If you have questions, please reach us at communitypartnership@luminafoundation.org.

The Talent Hub Designation Process

Applying for the Talent Hub designation is a four-step process.

Step 1: Complete the Self-Assessment Tool

Following the directions above, a partnership should complete the self-assessment tool and submit a response for review. Only one response should be submitted on behalf of a partnership. Every partnership that submits a response will proceed to Step 2. No partnership will be removed from consideration based solely on these responses.

Self-Assessment Tool

Step 2: Complete Consultation Call(s) with Lumina

After submitting a self-assessment, the partnership should email Dakota Pawlicki at dpawlicki@luminafoundation.org to schedule a consultation call. A partnership may require more than one consultation call during Step 2. Consultation calls have two phases:

Exploration: The partnership and Lumina learn about each other, discuss the Talent Hub designation, and share general observations from the self-assessment. This phase is primarily focused on ensuring fit between a partnership, Lumina, and the Talent Hub designation.

Validation: Lumina will ask probing questions about the partnership, its work, and about the responses to the self-assessment. Partnerships may need to provide evidence and/or engage key stakeholders in the conversation.

Lumina recognizes that completing an application for Talent Hub designation is a time- and resource-intensive process. These consultation calls are intended to increase the probability of a successful application by:

  1. Clearly communicating the expectations and standards of the Talent Hub designation, and

  2. Completing an early, low-stakes, collegial evaluation of a partnership against Talent Hub standards. It is likely that many partnerships will not advance to Step 3.

Step 3: Complete a Talent Hub application

If both Lumina and the partnership agree that a Talent Hub designation fits with the partnership and has a strong likelihood of success, Lumina will release a Talent Hub application to the partnership. Each partnership will have a unique submission deadline based on when the application is released.

Not all designated Talent Hubs will receive grant funding. Earning the designation—that is, being identified and elevated as a national exemplar—has value in and of itself. Limited funding may be available for designated Talent Hubs at Lumina’s discretion.

Step 4: Application Review

Lumina and its external reviewers will review Talent Hub applications on a rolling basis. If successful, a Talent Hub designation will be issued to the partnership. If unsuccessful, an applicant will receive feedback on its proposal.

Additional Information about Talent Hubs

Talent Hubs, a term coined by Jamie Merisotis in his first book, America Needs Talent, are communities that organize and align themselves around talent-development goals. They seek to offer and create multiple pathways to attract, retain, and cultivate talent and to help more of their residents earn degrees and other credentials beyond the high school diploma. Talent Hubs selected through this designation process are committing to significantly accelerate and advance community and regional efforts to increase credential attainment. Talent Hubs cultivate talent by pursuing system change at scale. These cross-sector partnerships understand that increasing educational attainment is not about fixing the individual; it is about fixing systems and institutions in a way that intentionally addresses gaps in attainment related to race, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status.

Talent Hubs is not a grant initiative. It is a designation that recognizes dynamic and effective community partnerships capable of accelerating credential completion while fostering fair and just educational outcomes. The Talent Hub designation comprises five domains:

  • Partnership Health: Conditions, processes, and systems in place for the relationship-building, stakeholder engagement, data-based decision-making, and collective leadership necessary to achieve common attainment goals.

  • Equity: Closing attainment gaps using system-level strategies specifically designed to meet the needs of Native American, Black, and Hispanic learners.

  • Attainment and Impact: Strategies that increase credential completion and community-wide attainment, not mere access to education programs.

  • Alignment: Cross-sector partnerships using shared resources to accomplish common goals.

  • Scale, Sustainability, and Systems: Leveraging systems-change approaches to accelerate community-wide post-high school attainment.

Successful applications for Talent Hub designation clearly articulate the community’s current plan to increase attainment, regardless of whether it receives Lumina support. Talent Hubs are exemplary communities that have the capacity, ability, and partnerships to accomplish their bold vision for attainment of credentials beyond high school. They do not depend on technical assistance or agencies outside the community to design, implement, or validate key components of their work plan. Talent Hubs are national leaders, models for other community partnerships, and proof points for innovation.

Successful applications for Talent Hub designation will:

  1. Address institution- and system-wide practices and policies at colleges, universities, and other education providers in ways that align with community actions. Pilot programs will not be considered.

  2. Consider sustainability from the outset, and advance work that will NOT require ongoing grant support.

  3. Represent a shift that significantly expands education attainment for adults and people of color.

  4. Reflect aligned thinking and program design that clearly documents how proposed strategies will affect target populations.

General Application Background Information

Qualified Talent Hub lead applicants may represent a variety of community sectors, including civic organizations, philanthropy, chambers of commerce, and other entities. Colleges and universities may also serve as the lead applicant but must be able to show evidence of community collaboration and engagement.

Successful Talent Hub applicants will work collaboratively across sectors and directly with at least one college or university partner to implement a collection of strategies to improve educational attainment among priority populations. Strategies included in the work plan should disproportionately increase credential completion for Native American, Black and/or Hispanic learners. Successful applications include both community mobilization efforts and aligned education system changes, with resources shared among key organizations.

Applicants should consider the following guidance:

Traditional-age Learners (18-24 years old)—Strategies focused on traditional-age learners should focus solely on those enrolled in colleges and universities. Successful proposals will include strategies that prevent stop-outs, improve leading indicators (e.g. enrollment/re-enrollment, persistence/retention), and produce high-quality credentials. Dual credit, K-12 alignment, career-technical education (CTE) pathways, access-oriented strategies or partnerships, and other strategies focused on learners not currently enrolled, while valuable, will not be considered.

Credential Production—Successful proposals will include specific and measurable strategies that produce credentials for the identified priority population. Priority populations for Talent Hubs are limited to:

  • Traditional-age learners (18-24 years old)

  • Adults with some college experience but no credential

  • Adults with no formal education or training after high school

Applications should clearly state, numerically and in percentage/rates, how many additional credentials will be produced above the current baseline. All proposed strategies included in the work plan should directly support credential completion goals specified by the applicant.

Racial Equity – Successful proposals include strategies that will have a disproportionately positive impact on outcomes for identified equity populations. All strategies should be designed and implemented with an equity lens. While some strategies may impact all learners at a given institution, successful applications will articulate their numerical impact on closing completion gaps for students of color. Further, the strategies implemented must be at sufficient scale and accompanied by credible and concrete plans for sustainability through institutional, organizational, and/or public policy. Pilots and/or cohort-based programs will not be considered.

Student Outcomes – Talent Hub proposals should clearly state numerical outcomes, especially for credential completion by year for the specified populations. Successful proposals clearly articulate numerical growth in leading indicators (e.g. enrollment/re-enrollment, persistence/retention) and completion. Outcomes should be expressed as both raw numbers and percentages to ensure that the scope and scale of the work are clear.

Data Consent Forms – All post-high school education providers in a Talent Hub must currently submit disaggregated race/ethnicity data to the National Student Clearinghouse (NSC). Further, all application packets must include executed NSC data consent forms for each participating institution. This consent form permits Lumina to receive institutionally identifiable completion, retention, and transfer information, disaggregated by age, race/ethnicity, and enrollment intensity (i.e., full time, part time). Lumina will never receive student-level identifiable data. These reports will be used exclusively for learning purposes and will not be shared without the written consent of the institution. Applicants are advised to prioritize the execution of these consent forms, as institutions often need additional time for legal review. Finally, altering the consent form is prohibited. Failure to properly submit disaggregated data will result in withdrawal of the Talent Hub designation.

Technical Assistance – Designated Talent Hubs are partnerships that require no substantial technical assistance to execute their strategies. By earning designation as a Talent Hub, a community has demonstrated the capacity, infrastructure, and expertise to implement strategies with fidelity. While some professional development opportunities will be available to designated Talent Hubs, as high-functioning models of effective practice, they will also be expected to help peers adapt their strategies for application elsewhere in the national Talent Hub landscape. For these reasons, applicants should not identify technical assistance needs in their proposals.

Exemplars – Talent Hubs serve as exemplars to other communities throughout the nation. As such, work plans should focus on producing high-quality credentials rather than building the capacity required to do so. The Talent Hub designation acknowledges exemplary status at the time of awarding the designation, including some evidence of results already achieved at the student level.

Resubmission—Applicants should not submit previously submitted proposals with minor edits (if applicable). Applicants are encouraged to review prior submissions and articulate progress made since their last submission.

Questions should be emailed to: communitypartnership@luminafoundation.org.