Our Approach


CREC worked closely with the participating organizations to improve six capabilities: 

  • Articulate program goals and key indicators of progress and success; 
  • Identify, interpret, and present labor market information to guide decision making; 
  • Engage other organizations effectively to share data;
  • Access, connect, and analyze data essential to the organization’s mission;
  • Ask better questions and communicate findings effectively; and
  • Use data for continuous improvement.

To better define and measure these broad capabilities, CREC developed six goals to accomplish with partner organizations: 

1. Develop a theory of change and a set of key indicators appropriate to the organization’s mission.

A theory of change is a comprehensive description of how and why a desired change is expected to happen in a particular context. CREC’s first goal was to help participant organizations develop targeted outcomes and steps toward achieving them, identify indicators and measurements of progress, and plan for anticipated challenges and continuous improvement.

2. Gain a broad understanding of local labor markets and dynamics in targeted sectors to inform strategic planning and partner engagement.

The second goal was to assist participants in deepening their understanding of local labor markets so that they could operationalize their theory of change.

3. Engage other organizations effectively through an understanding of their data culture, leadership, operations, and individual roles.

The third goal was for organizations to make progress toward data sharing by first building an understanding of data infrastructure, governance, and use in different professional and industrial environments.

4. Connect and analyze data essential for the mission.

The fourth goal was to enhance participants’ skills in data sourcing, data analysis, and transforming data into databases and visualizations.

5. Communicate findings to various stakeholders.

The fifth goal was to assist participant organizations in interpreting data and communicating their findings clearly to stakeholders and other data users. This included an emphasis on data storytelling and the use of data to test and validate claims about the labor market.

6. Operationalize the theory of change: use new knowledge and practices to support continuous evaluation and improvement.

The sixth and final goal of this project was to support organizations in starting to fully operationalize their theories of change. A significant focus of this goal was building systems for continuous evaluation and improvement via data-driven methods and collaboration with other organizations.

Subject-Matter-Expert Workshops

SME-led virtual workshops with leading practitioners and experts guided participants through a series of discussions on building data management and visualization skills through case-based examples of leading practices.

See the expert case studies below to learn more about SMEs that informed the work of participating organizations in year one.

SME Session NameSME Session Description
LMI Data Tools (Days 1 & 2)Facilitated by the CREC Team who introduced participants to JobsEQ, Public Insight, and LIghtcast tools
Third Party Data ToolsFacilitated by Joshua LaFon, Director of Client Success, Strategic Accounts at Lightcast and Dan Quigg, CEO of Public Insight. Josh and Dan provided an orientation to their subscription-based platforms with scenarios relevant to Building Equitable Pathways participants
Data Sharing for Data LeadsFacilitated by Bridget Blount, Chief Impact Officer at Baltimore’s Promise, James Sadler, Director of Research and Analytics at Baltimore’s Promise, and Scott Secamiglio, Visual Analytics and Strategy Director at Kentucky Center for Statistics (KYSTATS). Bridget and James gave participants insight on how data sharing agreements work through a discussion of major stakeholders, building relationships with these stakeholders, relevant SOPs/policies that should be in place, and overall planning. Scott walked through key factors that play a role in their ongoing data-sharing efforts with members of the community.
Getting to High-Quality Employer Engagement and the Role of DataFacilitated by Taylor Dunne, Manager at Talent Initiatives for San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation (SDEDC). Taylor facilitated a discussion on strategies toward high-quality employer engagement.
Communicating Your Data; Policy-relevant Data Visualizations w/ Jonathan SchwabishFacilitated by Jonathan Schwabish, Senior Fellow in The Urban Institute’s Income and Benefits Policy Center. Jonathan covered best practices for communicating data and addressing visualization obstacles that arise during the process
Privacy and Sensitivity: How to work with Government Partners to Access Non-Public DataFacilitated by Ahu Yildirmaz, President and CEO at the Coleridge Initiative; Diana Barrett, Data Officer at Indiana Department of Workforce Development. Ahu and Diana discussed their data sharing practices and goals and building capacity for sharing data across state agencies.
Applied Indicators training – Theory and Practice for Choosing Indicators, What Data to Display and HowFacilitated by Alan Spell, Assistant Professor EXTNS at the University of Missouri Exceed – Regional Economic and Entrepreneurial Development. Alan discussed factors in determining key indicators for regional analysis.
For Data Managers: Putting Our Data to Work (Days 1 & 2)Facilitated by Dr. Jamaal Green, Assistant Professor at the University of Pennsylvania. Jamaal facilitated a two-day workshop on key data management considerations, such as acquiring, processing, storing and providing data towards building equitable pathways.

Peer-Learning Workshops

CREC also organized a series of peer learning workshops in which partner organizations could connect with other cohort members, exchange ideas, and discuss challenges they had encountered, including:

  • Back-to-back sessions in 2022 that addressed how various organizations are seeking data from state agencies and whether state agencies and other partners might be interested in accessing their data for research purposes.
  • Discussions about the extent to which participating organizations could access and use data disaggregated by race and ethnicity and how to interpret the results.
Peer Learning Session NameSession Description
Sessions open to all organizations
Managing Your Own Data and Data Sharing   Attendees discussed their organizations’ metrics, how they relate to their goals, and how they were developed. 
Managing K-12 Data and Data Sharing  Spotlights: Educate Texas, CSCU, and Delaware DOE Attendees discussed systems for accessing and communicating K12 data and using data dashboards to enhance regional work-based learning evaluation.
Managing K-12 Data and Policies for Equity  Spotlights: YouthForce NOLA and Delaware DOE Attendees discussed using K-12 and Perkins CTE data for longitudinal analysis and progress monitoring.
Reflect and Learn: Theories of Practice, Measurable KPIs & Results  Spotlights: Say Yes Buffalo, NIU EdSystems Attendees discussed progress and ongoing challenges with internal and external data systems, including weighing the costs and benefits of building dashboards and identifying data sources to answer research questions related to job quality. 
Peer Learning Session NameSession Description
Data Sharing Infrastructure & Indicators Peer Learning Group 
Kick-Off   This was the first meeting of the group, introducing TA offerings and discussing models attendees use for designing data sharing systems, how they used data in decision making, and system design elements needed to support progress towards Building Equitable Pathways goals. 
Data in Decision Making   Attendees assessed their priority data clients, how they use data related to metrics their customers seek, and how they assess the usefulness of selected metrics on an on-going basis.  
Evaluating the Effectiveness of Dashboards   Attendees different frameworks to evaluate the effectiveness of data dashboards to communicate outcomes to grantee constituencies.  
Managing Your Own Data & Data Sharing Peer Learning Group
Setting the agenda   This was the first meeting of the group: introducing TA offerings, discussing current gaps, and identifying needed resources for building capacity.  
Getting Access to Government Data Attendees focused on the process to obtain data state and local agencies, including identifying a point of contact and an overview of a research plan/proposal that outlines goals for the data and data governance for the agency to review. 
Who’s Using Your Organization’s Data Attendees discussed their primary data clients and how to enhance data usage to serve Building Equitable Pathways goals. 
Data Governance and Equitable Pathways: Conducting a Needs Assessment Attendees worked through a brief needs assessment to focus on best practices for data governance and accessing sensitive data. 

One-on-One TA

Initially, CREC delivered a TA curriculum to all participants, which included support for developing research agendas, KPIs, and systems change planning to support incremental progress. CREC offered intensive one-on-one attention to select participant organizations, allowing CREC to tailor TA to each organization’s unique challenges and support their goals and learning objectives.

There were several subjects that organizations reported as particularly helpful: 

  • Cultivating Data Leadership and Advocacy
  • Utilizing Administrative Data for Strategic Decisions
  • Metric Alignment for Programmatic Improvement
  • Understanding and Leveraging Data Ecosystems
  • Communicating with Stakeholders through Data Visualization

CREC’s TA support encouraged participating organizations to develop inclusive strategies and pursue more equitable outcomes in employment, training, and job quality initiatives for low income, Black, and Latinx youth.


CREC released a suite of e-Learning options in Fall 2023, which leveraged insights from expert presentations and peer learning sessions offered earlier in the project. The courses covered four topics, described below. 

Fundamentals of Data Management and Governance  This course provides an introductory understanding of key principles and best practices in data management and governance.Introduction to Data Visualization in Tableau  This course introduces learners to the fundamental concepts of data visualization using Tableau Desktop, one of the most popular tools for developing and sharing interactive charts and dashboards. 
Public Data for Building Equitable Pathways  This self-guided course is designed to provide participants with an overview of key LMI sources, including how to access and utilize publicly available data to derive insights and drive action to support equitable outcomes in pathways ecosystems. Intermediate Skills in Tableau  This course builds on the skills and knowledge from Introduction to Data Visualization in Tableau by introducing new types of charts and more advanced features like level of detail calculations and parameters. 

The e-Learning curriculum developed for this group will be available for an affordable fee through the Labor Market Information Institute and the Council for Community and Economic Research in 2024.