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Best Practices

Learn more about the practices that have helped Navicate to be successful in working collaboratively and achieving results.

Sustaining strong, consistent leadership and a focus on interpersonal relationships

Since its inception in 1997, Navicate has been led by the same executive director, Rich Tulikangas. Sustained leadership has facilitated a strong perpetuation of the organization’s mission and allowed LLL to build trusting, lasting relationships with partners.

The Navicate board of directors is comprised of individuals who strongly support the organization’s mission and vision. Board members serve two-year terms, and while some have not renewed their posts at the end of a term, many have. This board is actively involved in the work and remains constantly in touch with the target population, the challenges of the work, and the collaborative successes of the organization.

Having longstanding personal relationships with partners is important, especially in a state like Vermont that has relatively small, tight-knit communities. In its role as an intermediary, having positive relationships with other partner organizations plays a big role in keeping Navicate's collaborative efforts mutually beneficial and meaningful for the students participating. Consistent leadership and dedicated staff also have helped foster relationships. Partners and community members have grown to trust Navicate and the quality of its collaborative work, which has built good will and solidified relationships.

See collaboration structure for more information about the staff and the board of directors.

Developing a clear understanding with partners about the roles, responsibilities, and timelines for collaboration

The success of Navicate’s programs deeply depends on the cooperation and dedication of partner organizations in the collaboration. Therefore, Navicate develops memorandums of understanding with all of its partners that lay out exactly what is to be accomplished by the collaboration and what specific roles and responsibilities each partner agrees to. Consistently adhering to these agreements creates an environment of mutual understanding and reliance.

Yearly strategic plans also lay out the goals and objectives that the collaboration hopes to achieve on a yearly basis. Navicate’s strategic plan not only establishes goals, but also maps these goals to specific activities and deadlines. Establishing this framework allows all staff and partners to be on the same page about the goals for the year and the steps that need to be taken to achieve these goals in order to further the organization’s mission.

See collaboration structure for more information on the partnerships involved in the collaboration and lessons learned for more information about the benefit of local partners

A focus on using data to analyze gaps and develop future plans

Navicate collects data for all of its programs to illustrate the impact the organization is having on Vermont students. Navicate collects a range of types of data including program outcome data and survey responses from program participants. This data is shared both with Navicate staff and with all partner organizations.

On a quarterly basis, Navicate staff meet for Action Research Days. These days provide time for staff to analyze the outcome data for the programs that Navicate and its partners support. Navicate staff use the data collected to reflect on how they are doing compared to the goals outlined in the strategic plan and to inform their plans for the future.

Navicate also shares this data with program partners and funders. For example, Navicate publishes an annual report each year that highlights outcomes data and success stories. Navicate and partners in the collaboration can use this information to try to garner additional funding from various sources. LLL recently created a summary of results brochure that provides a snapshot of the impact of its work over the past five years. Its focus on data and ability to show its success have been helpful as it applies for grants and funding.

See collaboration structure for more information on the strategic plan and annual report.

Thinking creatively when expanding its scope of services

Navicate has faced significant growth since its inception in 1997. Starting as a district-level initiative it has grown to a regional initiative and now to one implementing programs across the state of Vermont. As it expanded, Navicate has had to determine how to most effectively scale up its programs and work without contradicting its mission or compromising the effectiveness of its programs. Embracing creative solutions and being flexible have helped as Navicate faces these challenges.

For example, Navicate was approached by multiple organizations that wanted to participate in its Training Interns and Partnering for Success (TIPS) internship program. This program began as a partnership between Navicate, Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream, and Burlington High School, in which six at-risk students interned at one of Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream shops. This program was shown to be very successful and within the course of a year, there were four high schools participating with about 25 different employers in the region. Schools and businesses in other counties throughout Vermont contacted Navicate to see how they could get involved.

Navicate staff and leadership struggled with how to help organizations across the state implement TIPS and what role Navicate should play. After debating multiple possibilities, Navicate decided to provide organizations with program materials and training and ongoing technical assistance around implementation, best practices, tools, and evaluation. As it has expanded statewide, the program has continued to be very successful and continues to be funded annually by the Vermont Department of Labor as the only secondary internship program out of the three programs it supports.