This summer, we’ve embarked on a road trip to find out how six cities are building equitable pathways to postsecondary and workforce success. On our fourth stop, we discover how the port city of Corpus Christi, Texas, is making local and regional connections to meet its almost $50 billion industry demand.
This post was co-authored by Dana D’Orazio and Audrey Hutchinson. This is the sixth post in a series on the NLC Summer Road Trip in partnership with LinkedIn, an initiative made possible with generous funding from The Kresge Foundation.
Hello, Corpus Christi! One of the busiest ports in the U.S., Corpus Christi has a booming shipping industry. Sitting on the water, a constant breeze accompanies you as you walk along the sea wall, where pelicans, dolphins and sailboats are all in motion dotting the blue waters for miles upon miles.
Our first stop was Coastal Compass Education and Career Resource Center, a coordinated community effort that exemplifies the power of cross-sector collaboration. Founded in 2013, Coastal Compass helps residents earn their GED and enroll in college through advising, application and FAFSA completion support. A local mall provides rent free space where the resource center serves nearly 3,000 individuals each year.
To date, more than 10,000 residents have received assistance and support to pursue their education and career goals. The center is just one of the ways the city is working to meet current and future job needs and encourage residents to pursue educational options that include certificates and credentials, as well as two- and four-year college degrees.
The Corpus Christi team includes city representatives; Citizens for Educational Excellence; Del Mar College and the United Corpus Christi Chamber of Commerce. The team has worked to turn its initial road map into a strategic plan with dedicated work groups to implement its vision.
Despite major shifts in leadership over the past year, the Corpus Christi team’s ability to continue to move this work speaks to the sustainability of its infrastructure and implementation strategy, which has put an emphasis on building buy-in on the ground and at the staff and leadership levels.
A great example of these efforts came when new Mayor Joe McComb enthusiastically joined the stakeholder meeting.
“There’s nothing better than to help someone be successful,” Mayor McComb said as he addressed the local stakeholders gathered to discuss the building equitable pathways project.
At the meeting, LinkedIn shared key data points, leading stakeholders to explore top industry needs and job openings and the related skill development and curriculum shifts required.
Next time you find yourself in Corpus Christi, be sure to grab a bike from the Zagster bike share and take a ride along the sea wall — but beware of the wind gusts. On our trip to Corpus Christi, a pelican and two dolphins accompanied us on our seawall ride.
Follow our travels at the CitiesSpeak Blog and on Twitter with #EquityEdEmployment.
About the authors:
Dana D’Orazio is the Program Manager for Postsecondary Education at the NLC Institute for Youth, Education, and Families.
Audrey M. Hutchinson is the Director of Education and Expanded Learning at the NLC Institute for Youth, Education, and Families.