Organizational Infrastructure for Talent Retention Strategies

This session was moderated by Sheila Ireland, Office of Workforce Development, City of Philadelphia and featured panelists Kirsten Brinlee, Collegetown Baltimore; Deborah Diamond, Campus Philly; and Cecelia Thompson, Action Greensboro

Thirty conference attendees joined a conversation about infrastructure practices, growth strategies, and funding pipelines of established organizations committed to talent retention.

Key Takeaways:

  • Relationship management across sectors is key to maintaining and building new talent retention champions and diversifying funding
  • Don’t duplicate efforts and compete with your partners – identify student-centric initiatives that support their initiatives and serve as an extension
  • Remember that the student audience is always changing – be willing to be dynamic and flexible as their needs shift

The Origin Stories

The discussion also included origin stories of their respective organizations and the challenges faced as they being to chart out what long-term growth looks like.

Action Greensboro — three private foundations came together to provide a base level of funding and leveraged each dollar for matching opportunities by local companies/CEOs. The organization grew out of general concern for local economic growth and asking the right questions without assumption: What is the destiny of your city’s public and private partnerships? What do partners want and need?

Collegetown Baltimore — four local higher-ed CFOs who met regularly to support each other in the mid 90s created a more-formalized partnership after a big snowstorm hit Baltimore and their campuses shared salt to maintain safe campuses. This resource-sharing led to an organizational relationship among local schools to share resources to connect students to the surrounding Baltimore area and support the efforts local higher-ed admissions staff.

Campus Philly — the organization was founded in 2004 as a 501(c)3 focused on helping the Philadelphia region attract, engage, and retain college students. The organization fuels economic growth by encouraging college students to study, explore, live and work in the region.

Audience Q & A

Q: Do you find the champion or does the champion find you?

A: There should be nonstop relationship-building and management with champions across sectors. Champions from any sector can help build out the ways organizations connect with students. Example: investment from city supports economic development strategy (Campus Philly).

A: Colleges/institutional membership supports mall shuttles, guidance counselor tour, and other programmatic funding (Collegetown Baltimore).

A: Foundational support from city’s thought-leaders reaches different sectors and helps with programmatic/initiative-specific funding (ActionGreensboro).

Q: Any recommended tools for supporting relationship management?

A: In-house design for an ever-changing audience that looks good and define teams – shout out to Roger Estes! (CampusPhilly).

A: Be bullish about dedicating staff to your initiatives – one person is not enough (ActionGreensboro)

Q: What would you have told your younger self/organization when starting this work?

A: Lift up local talent, and attract new talent in an equitable way (ActionGreensboro)

A: Identify hyper-local projects that are familiar to campus partners but seem like an extension of what is being offered (Collegetown Baltimore)

A: Stay student-focused (CampusPhilly)