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Collaboration Structure

Key aspects of the Navicate's structure include the following elements:

Dedicated staff directly supporting student success as well as creating organizational connections

As the collaboration has grown, the original partnership among the Burlington (VT) School District, the Lake Champlain Regional Chamber of Commerce, and the University of Vermont established Navicate (then still called LLL) as an independent 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that acts as an intermediary organization. As an intermediary, Navicate is able to help connect students and schools to employers, colleges, and other resources. Staff are able to support a wide variety of students’ needs and interests by linking them with partner organizations within the collaboration. Navicate’s capacity as a connecting entity led it to be one of the founding members of the Intermediary Network, which helps local and national intermediary organizations share effective strategies with one another.

Dedicated staff that support the work of Navicate and its partners have helped facilitate the success and expansion of Navicate programs throughout Vermont. Navicate is led by an executive director who has participated in the collaboration since its inception in 1997. In addition, Navicate has six other staff members and one or two AmeriCorps VISTA members who support the work of the collaboration on an ongoing basis. Navicate also continues to engage past staff members in an adjunct capacity. 

See best practices to learn more about the benefit of having consistent leadership over time.

A board of directors representing a broad spectrum of the community

Navicate's board of directors currently has 17 members, representing a broad range of leaders in the business and education fields, state agencies, and other nonprofits. The board of directors meets quarterly and also holds an annual meeting every fall to approve a new budget and develop a strategic plan.

The board of directors has three committees that meet between full board meetings. The committees are dedicated to carrying out certain aspects of the work.

  • The Executive Committee has decision-making authority, conducts budget reviews, oversees staff compensation, conducts the executive director’s annual review, and provides on-going organizational guidance.
  • The Marketing and Development Committee focuses on increasing community engagement, publicizing Navicate's efforts, and generating new resources.
  • The External Relations Committee helps identify and build strategic relationships with other non-profits, state agencies, and legislators.

See best practices to learn more about the benefit of consistent leadership

Partnerships with local schools, businesses, and organizations

The collaboration includes partnerships with multiple local schools, colleges, businesses, and community organizations to help provide Vermont students with services and programs that help them succeed beyond high school. As the collaboration has spread across the region and state, additional partners have been established to support the work. Partners are asked to sign memorandums of understanding in order to ensure sustained commitment.

Every spring, Navicate holds a Community Partner Recognition Event to highlight the accomplishments of its partners and give out awards for those that have shown an outstanding dedication to creating opportunities for youth.

See best practices to learn more about the benefit of having memorandums of understanding with partner organizations and lessons learned to see how local organizations can help spread the mission of Navicate to rural areas of Vermont.

A strategic plan and an annual report that are developed and approved annually

The staff and board of directors of Navicate meet annually to discuss and approve a new strategic plan. Each year the strategic plan lays out a framework and specific action steps for carrying out the organization’s mission. The strategic plan contains concrete, measurable goals; the activities that will lead to the fulfillment of those goals; the individual(s) leading the activities; and the deadlines for tasks to be completed. Having a plan and action steps clearly defined allows Navicate to accurately measure the progress of its collaborative efforts against its goals. Including a deadline with an actual date attached allows staff to plan ahead and fully accomplish tasks on time.

The staff and board also collaborate on the development of an annual report each year. While the strategic plan is a place to put forth goals, the annual report is an opportunity to reflect on how goals were met and how effective the collaboration was at serving students throughout the year. The annual report contains data on the services and programs utilized, financial information for the organization, and profiles of actual students served by LLL and its partners.

In 2012, Navicate was chosen as one of seventeen nonprofits to participate in a statewide Performance Institute to study and use Results-Based Accountability (RBA) in its data collection and reporting processes. This 18-month Institute has enabled Navicate to reflect on its organizational performance measures by looking at the three essential questions of RBA: How much did we do? How well did we do it? Is anyone better off?

See best practices to learn more about the benefits of having memorandums of understanding with partner organizations.