Board Approves New Strategic Path

As an organization that reflects on its impact each year, Achieve Hartford knew coming out of COVID was the right time for strategic planning.

“Having spent the last few years trying to focus on cross-sector collaboration and systems-change, the pandemic really forced us to reconcile the immense gaps in student readiness and support, and the need for solutions,” Executive Director Paul Diego Holzer says. “As a backbone organization, our focus these past four years on the transition from high school to post-secondary education and training uncovered an unmet need for an important population of students.”

Specifically, while working with partners, we identified a group of seniors on track for high school graduation but not on track for success at 4-year colleges who need support getting into and through community college.

And with this need existing beyond Greater Hartford, we are extending our services to similar low-income students around the state, expanding this fall to serve students attending Capital, Manchester, Quinebaug Valley, Middlesex and Three Rivers Community Colleges.

The Achieve Hartford Board approved a new strategic plan earlier this month, and Achieve Hartford will be rebranding itself this fall. The 13-year-old organization will reconstitute its Board of Directors and staff to ensure we fully understand the needs of – and reflect the experiences of – the students we serve. Community college students’ voices will continue to drive our program design, and we will remain lean during our programmatic expansion.

Not all coalition-building work will end, as Achieve Hartford will still look to convene other community-based organizations that help prepare seniors without a plan for success after high school. We will refine the details of this work in the months to come, and will explore whether the need exists in additional cities besides Hartford.

“We hope to ensure the nonprofit sector, working with this population before they graduate high school, works together so students arrive at community college better prepared,” Holzer says. “We know the pandemic’s impact on students will be felt academically and emotionally for many years to come.”