The Capital Region has a tremendous challenge when faced with advancing its college and career readiness objectives, workforce development initiatives, and overall regional prosperity goals. In our eight county region (Colusa, El Dorado, Nevada, Placer, Sacramento, Sutter, Yolo, and Yuba), the high school graduation rate is just under the California state average at 81.7%1 however, merely 43% of graduating seniors meet the University of California or California State University course requirements for admission. 2 California has the fourth highest youth (16 to 24 years) unemployment rate in the country at 20.2%. Our region’s youth unemployment rate is an alarming 21%3 with approximately 5,800 of our residents currently experiencing homelessness.4 We can do better.

There is a lot of wonderful work being done in our region by many organizations but our students and residents deserve a system that produces more and better outcomes. The efforts to affect impactful and sustainable results are currently driven by misaligned tactical interventions disconnected from a unified vision or systematic approach. Consequently the siloed work, albeit sincere, is incapable of creating the most efficient use of existing resources, leveraging and maximizing community resources, or achieving desired long-term sustainable regionally outcomes.

Recent interviews with 100 leaders from education, business, and the community at-large offered that college and career readiness are imperative for our region. Harmonious engagement among education, business, and the community was identified as a significant key to advancing metrics in this work.  It was also shared that to achieve meaningful and sustainable outcomes, there must be a shared vision amongst all stakeholders and a world class process or operating system to guide and support the requisite work. 

Align Capital Region

Align Capital Region (ACR) was formed to create regional systems and conditions to align and optimize our assets, resources, and experience to achieve greater outcomes in education, workforce development, and community vitality.  Utilizing Alignment USA’s organized systems and high tech tools created in 2004, ACR will be the 12th region in the country to deploy this model. Additionally, in the spirit of alignment, Valley Vision was selected as ACR’s local consultant based upon its extensive local knowledge and experience working on complex environmental challenges. Working collaboratively, our region will benefit from having the right leadership in place and a proven operating system specifically designed for this work. 

ACR’s mission is to align and integrate community stakeholders and resources to ensure student success, workforce readiness, and overall prosperity.  It will serve all eight counties, 78 elementary and secondary (K-12) school districts, eight community colleges, three universities, three workforce development boards, small and large businesses, and the region’s communities-at-large. To that end, ACR has seated an influential, committed, and diverse Steering Committee5 commensurate to the challenge that includes education, business, and civic leaders.  The Committee has more than 350 years of collective experience and is dedicated to serve and meet the challenge of its mission.

The leadership’s guiding principles function as its North Stars directing its focus and actions.  They are:

  • We believe that we are better together as a whole region than as individual communities.
  • Our work is focused on supporting the whole child, student, resident.
  • We will do whatever it takes to help students succeed in school, work, and civic engagement across our region.
  • Our work is generational and requires long-term stakeholder commitment.
  • Our work will ensure that every student has access to opportunity, full engagement, and is accountable.
  • We are committed to innovation and possibility thinking to achieve greater outcomes for all students in our region.

How does Alignment work?

The process is a simple one: align regional resources to achieve collective impact that no single organization could achieve alone.  At the heart of the process is a highly coordinated and interactive organizational structure proven to boost student achievement that promotes the design, implementation, and accountability for impactful results.

The design begins with long-term regional outcomes being developed by the Steering Committee followed by the development of Alignment Teams or A-Teams to carry out the work.  The A-Teams are seated with experienced leaders primarily from education and business to create tactical plans and facilitate the work.  The Operating Committee consists of the Chair and Vice-Chair of each of the A-Teams along with others from the community with expertise for resolving wicked problems; difficult problems to solve because of multiple organizations and interests, complex issues, and  finite resources. This design promotes fluid communication, cross pollination, and opportunity to share best known methods. The staff provides backbone support including Alignment training, coordination, and community engagement.

This diagram illustrates the organizational structure.


Each tactical plan includes the strategy and mechanics to achieve the desired outcome and also enlists organizations or individuals from the community at-large that are needed to participate for success.  Again, the intent of the Alignment process is not to build entirely new programs or organizations, but rather bring together existing assets and resources to be more coordinated and deliberate in the approaches to achieve desired goals.

The diagram below illustrates the process.

Although the process is simple, the challenge is somewhat daunting. Accomplishing alignment in spite of the Capital Region’s geographic size, environmental complexity, and requisite paradigm shift in how we work together is going to require leadership, trust, and perseverance like never before.  Fortunately, the Alignment systems and tools are universal and flexible enough to be customized to suit our size and environmental requirements.  Additionally, we are advantaged to have intelligent and experienced leaders and other community activists willing to offer guidance, resources, and support to make the necessary system modifications to achieve the outcomes we desire.

The Outcomes and Collective Impact

ACR’s Steering Committee identified the initial four prodigious long term regional outcomes as college readiness, educational attainment, career readiness, and community vitality.  Long term is characterized as five years or more. The following four outcomes were selected as the cornerstones of our regional advancement after much study, advisement, and discussion among committee members. These are not intended or designed to be all encompassing for all time. Other desired outcomes will emerge as conditions change and progress is made.

College Readiness

College readiness has long been a concern for many regions around the country including ours.  What does college readiness mean and how is readiness measured?  The primary focus population for this work will be Pre-Kindergarten through 12th grade.  There are many components in this challenge to address including math and English skill development, students’ social emotional health, and tactics to eliminate remediation.  ACR will define college readiness in its tactical plan and develop an effective strategy(ies) and metrics to track and measure success.

Educational Attainment

Educational attainment is defined as acquired skill measured by the completion of a program and the receipt of a certificate or degree.  Recognized programs include high school diplomas, Career Technical Education certificates, Associate of Arts and Associate of Science degrees, and Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science degrees.  The ACR A-Teams will identify bottlenecks and impediments to program completion and create mechanics to advance our region.

Offered as testimony to the Alignment model’s efficacy, Metropolitan Nashville Public High Schools in Tennessee increased its high school graduation rates 25 points from 58% to 83% in 10 years under the leadership of its Alignment Nashville organization.  Using a comprehensive and collaborative approach to address its challenges in three primary strata, Pre-Kindergarten through 6th grade, middle school, and high school, the results are impressive. Alignment Rockford increased its minority student graduation rate by 10% in merely 3 years using the same systems and tools.  ACR will deploy a similar comprehensive and collaborative approach to achieve analogous results.

Career Readiness

Evolving our career readiness strategy represents an opportunity to partner with the private sector in a real way to cooperatively produce a world class talent pool.  Today more than ever business recognizes the value and benefits of being integrated with education to provide support and co-leadership in developing tomorrow’s workforce.  Approximately 50% of the jobs that will be in the marketplace in 10 years do not even exist today.  This statistic alone demands Alignment and an ability for career preparation programming to evolve continuously and rapidly if there is any chance to become and remain economically competitive.

Community Vitality

This desired outcome is unique in that it will align social services and non-profits in an unprecedented fashion to serve those in need or who have been displaced. Social justice concerns such as unemployment, homelessness, poverty, abuse, addiction, and inadequate veteran services impact all of us. Alignment’s operating system has the capacity to address matters of this kind which promote greater community vitality for our region.

The economic responsibility of opportunity youth is astounding.  Opportunity youth are defined as those between the ages of 16 and 24 years who may have dropped out of high school or college and been unable to find work or may have been involved in the criminal justice system or may have mental or health conditions that have inhibited their activities. The annual regional economic responsibility per person for this crisis is approximately $37,500 per year. 6 California has the fourth highest youth unemployment rate in the country at 20.2%.

Nashville identified that it had 10,000 opportunity youth.  Using the Alignment approach and facilitating merely 10% or 1,000 students to complete an educational program and gain employment has a $37.5M annual benefit to its region. 

The power and impact of Alignment is undeniable.  We are better together.


1 Ed Data.  Cohort Graduates, 2014-15.  California Longitudinal Pupil Achievement Data Systems (CALPADS), California Department of  Retrieved 08/18/2016.

2 Ed Data.  Graduates Meeting UC/CSU Course Requirements, 2014-15.  California Longitudinal Pupil Achievement Data Systems (CALPADS), California Department of  Retrieved 08/18/2016.

3 US Census.  Employment Status.  American Community Survey – 2014 1-year Estimates.  Retrieved 08/18/2016.

4 Google compilation of regional data.

5 Bob Balian Lead Pastor Bayside Midtown, Pat Brady CEO Sutter Health, Stephanie Bray CEO United Way, Jason Buckingham ED Golden Sierra WIB, Christopher Cabaldon Mayor West Sac, Linda Cutler CEO Sac Community Foundation, Antonio de la O CEO Cien Amigos, Willy Duncan President Sierra College, Patrick Kennedy District 2 Sac County Supervisor, Pat Fong Kushida CEO Asian Chamber of Commerce, Ken Macias CEO Macias Consulting, Gayle Garbolino-Mojica Superintendent PCOE, Dave Gordon Superintendent SCOE, Jon Gregory ED Nevada Co ERC, Daniel Hahn Roseville Police Chief, Ralph Hexter Chancellor UCD, Cassandra Jennings CEO Greater Sacramento Urban League, Brian King Chancellor LRCCD, Ana Klein CFO Sunsweet, Dan Maguire EDM Winters, Michael Marion Associate Vice Provost, Drexel, Steven Martinez Superintendent Twin Rivers USD, Scott Moak VP Sacramento Kings, Robert Nelsen President CSUS, Arlen Orchard CEO SMUD, Deborah Ortiz CEO Opening Doors, Vic Ramos Superintendent Wheatland UHSD, Patricia Rodriguez Senior VP Kaiser, Dave Roughton CEO Safe Credit Union, Beverly Sandeen ED Yolo Community Foundation, Elliott Troshinsky President KCRA-TV/KQCA-TV, Vic Wursten Senior VP Pride Industries.

6 Belfield Clive, Levin Henry, Rosen Rachel. The Economic Value of Opportunity Youth. Civic Enterprise with support from W.K. Kellogg Foundation for Corporation for National and Community Service, 2012.