The resulting Silicon Valley ALLIES initiative (SV ALLIES) launched in September 2013 as a multi sector partnership dedicated to helping English Language Learner (ELL) adults to attain and succeed in family-sustaining careers through collective impact and collaborative systems change in San Mateo and Santa Clara Counties.
Over a period of three years (2012-2015), the SV ALLIES initiative convened a multi-sector steering committee, launched the Community Asset Referral System (CARS) that generated data and information resources needed to build capacity for system level change, initiated three successful ELL-serving pilot projects and conceptualized a “No Wrong Door” experience for English language learners.
The SV ALLIES steering committee brought together leaders from multiple sectors with a stake in coordinating workforce and other services for English learners: workforce development agencies, community colleges, employers, adult schools, community based organizations, labor organizations and local government organizations. A collective impact approach sought to identify common goals and shared metrics.
The CARS project sponsored by SV ALLIES generated comprehensive demographic information on Silicon Valley’s English language learners, produced asset maps of agencies serving adult ELLs and made available data on workforce and career opportunities for the above mentioned population. Details and products of the CARS project can be found in the April 2015 SV ALLIES Research Brief “English Language Learner Adults in Silicon Valley: Community Assets, Gaps, and Career Pathways”
Informed by Steering Committee discussions about systematic ways to improve language and workforce training services for English language learners, the SV ALLIES initiative implemented 4 pilot projects: 1 job seeker pilot and 3 incumbent worker pilot programs. A brief description of each can be found below. For more information as well as an evaluation of the outcomes of each pilot project, see section IV of the Silicon Valley ALLIES Innovation Initiative Evaluation Report
Job seeker pilot: English Learners’ Ladders to Success (ELLS)
The ELLS job seeker pilot was a collaboration between Palo Alto Adult School, Sequoia Adult School and the San Mateo County Workforce and Economic Development Department, with as goal to help participants improve their English language skills, learn job search strategies, and find a new job that paid higher wages. Through classroom based instructional modules, participants created a job search portfolio , which included a resume, a cover letter, a list of career goals, and an elevator pitch. Independent career advising was offered to participants throughout the duration of the course and for 10 weeks after the class ended.
Incumbent worker pilots: blending technical skills training with English language instruction.
Silicon Valley ALLIES Innovation Initiative Evaluation Report
SV ALLIES conceptualized a ‘No Wrong Door’ experience for English language learners and investigated the potential for implementation in the bi-county Silicon Valley region.‘No Wrong Door’ is defined as the concept that ELLs would have access to the full range of educational opportunities, workforce development and supportive services available in their region and appropriate to their goals and needs, no matter what their initial entry point into the system. Based on results of the above mentioned CARS project, SV ALLIES formulated future recommendations for strengthening each of the following five elements of increased cohesion:
The Silicon Valley ALLIES initiative was featured in a 2016 Training and Employment Notice from the US Department of Labor and continues to be considered a model for effective collaboration between workforce development boards and adult education providers.