The Strengthening CTE for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V) requires districts and consortia that seek Perkins funding to complete a comprehensive local needs assessment (CLNA). At the heart of the CLNA process is a diverse body of stakeholders. In this article, we’ll define what a stakeholder is, identify the stakeholder groups that must be represented in the process, and offer suggestions on how you can connect with them.
Stakeholders: What and Who They Are
A stakeholder is anyone who is invested or has a “stake” in the welfare and success of a group, policy, or program. In the case of a school program, all members of a community are considered stakeholders. Regardless of how familiar required stakeholders may be with CTE programs, if they are affected by the CTE programs in your community, their input may still be important and relevant.
Perkins V identifies a number of required stakeholders that must be represented through your CLNA process. These stakeholders are listed in the legislation under Requirements.
One of the groups listed is students from special populations, which includes homeless youth, foster youth, and English learners, for example. Historically underrepresented and marginalized, special populations may take extra effort to engage. Yet bringing them into the process offers an opportunity to proactively address practices that may have unintentionally excluded them from CTE programs or led to lower participation.
How to Reach Stakeholders
To get a jumpstart on building your stakeholder group, consider the stakeholders you already work with through other district efforts. You may have relatively easy access to stakeholders through sector partnerships, community groups, or parent-teacher associations.
Once you’ve identified the easy-to-reach stakeholders, you’ll be better able to see gaps in expertise or experience. You may want to tap different groups to develop new partners. These can fill the gaps that will bring the depth necessary to represent all those touched by your programs.
Next, you may find that some of the special populations are not represented. Consider reaching out to community-based organizations that support special populations. They can save you time by helping you quickly reach students that might take you weeks to track down. Some of these organizations include the division of vocational rehabilitation, child welfare agencies, migrant support agencies, one-stop employment centers, and disability resource centers. Local college and career programs also can be invaluable resources.
Finally, the Wisconsin Guide to Conducting a Comprehensive Local Needs Assessment (draft) can be a tremendous resource. It provides links to various organizations, contacts, and directories that can help you locate the stakeholders needed to support your outreach efforts.
Having the full spectrum of stakeholders at the table is not only a requirement, it’s also an opportunity. You’ll learn about the impact of your CTE programs from voices you may not have heard before. Plus, by involving stakeholders from the beginning, you will increase buy-in and support of final decisions.
—Submitted by Christine Lenske, Grant Specialist