Lessons Learned

Learn more about the lessons that Navicate has learned while working collaboratively.

Determining creative ways to fund the collaboration is essential

Navicate began through a federal School-to-Work Opportunities Act grant and has since continued to be largely funded by grants. It has been a constant struggle for the organization to continually seek out and secure funds. As the economy worsened in recent years, this struggle became even more acute, as multiple organizations across the state and country competed for fewer and fewer funds. Fostering committed, long-lasting relationships with partners has led to success in obtaining funding for programs. The close relationship between Navicate and partners has allowed both to seek funding to support the work of the collaboration.  Navicate has benefited from creating multiple streams of funding. To date it has accessed funding from more than 70 different public and private sources.

Through these challenges, Navicate has learned that flexibility and creativity are essential to generating new and different funding sources. One of the ways it has tried to obtain funding creatively is through events. Its annual Giant Pumpkin Regatta & Festival is one of its the most lucrative events, generating about $30,000 in total annual revenue. In the past, Navicate partnered with the Lake Champlain Regional Chamber of Commerce and the Vermont Giant Pumpkin Growers Association on the event, which specifically helps to sustain PILOT (Program to Inspire Leadership, Opportunity, and Thought), its youth leadership and career exploration program. Navicate plans to explore further creative avenues in the future to address its funding challenges.

In an effort to explore additional ways to procure funding, Navicate has also instituted a fee-for-service model for some of its programs. The largest current source of fee-for-service funding for Navicate is the High School Completion Program run by Vermont Adult Learning. This program, funded by the Vermont Department of Education, enables students who have dropped out of high school to work towards earning a diploma. Navicate provides these students with the opportunity to take college courses, and then charges Vermont Adult Learning for this service. Navicate is currently investigating additional ways to effectively incorporate a fee-for-service model into its programs. It is currently developing a plan to begin billing school districts in Chittenden County for a portion of the costs of the programs they use, whereas in the past these programs have been free. This new payment model would begin with the 2012–2013 school year and would be dependent on the individual district’s needs.

See best practices for more information on effectively expanding the scope of program services.

Building connections with local partners helps address unique local challenges

Vermont has many rural areas and few communities with over 10,000 residents. The remoteness of many communities can pose a challenge for those designing programs and engaging students.

Recognizing this challenge, Navicate has come to rely heavily on its regional partners to effectively administer programs. The relationships these partners have built with rural schools and small rural employers allow programs to offer meaningful opportunities to students, even those who live in remote areas. Regional partners also have valuable insight into how to address transportation problems that could potentially inhibit participation. Fostering valuable partnerships with regional partners has allowed Navicate to establish its programs in multiple areas of the state without losing effectiveness.