CCD in Action: Grow Your Future

By Courtney Breckenridge and Diana Nastasia

The “human to human” aspect of human centered design really makes a difference in helping those in need. That was a lesson learned by Grow Your Future, a team that participated in Round 3 of the Customer Centered Design Challenge and attended the CCD Learning Exchange and Symposium in Washington on October 17.

The Grow Your Future Team members included the Building Illinois’ Bioeconomy (BIB) Consortium (established through a U.S. Department of Labor award from the Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training program, Round 4), particularly its project management team at the National Corn-to-Ethanol Research Center at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville; Madison County Employment and Training and Madison County One-Stop; Southern Illinois University Edwardsville’s East St Louis Center; the Council for Adult and Experiential Learning; and Hawthorne Strategy Group, a marketing and public relations firm helping the consortium with student recruitment and project outreach.

The team addressed the broad question of “How might we provide coordinated information about and opportunities for workforce education and career training regionally?”

The challenge was the integration of One-Stop services in a way that went beyond the agencies of one county to include and benefit from the collective impact of the Consortium’s postsecondary institutions, county-based agencies, as well as employer, industry, nonprofit and governmental stakeholders in multiple neighboring counties in Southern Illinois and Missouri.

The group already knew they shared many ideas about how to work together, but through research during their inspiration phase, they learned that there is a critical need for pooling resources and providing clear training to employment pathways, showing where education leads and where the jobs really are. The partnership they are establishing aims at providing an intensive multigenerational approach to breaking the cycle of poverty while promoting regional growth.

After Consortium staff completed a tour of WIOA employment and training agencies and team members participated in information booths at numerous regional fairs and community-based events, they realized an “AHA moment” about how much human contact can do. Speaking with people who are engaged in providing services has helped not only better promote consortium programs and ensure that its materials are properly showcased, but also ensure that those in need of education and training have the right information about existing options as well as full access to the resources needed to pursue such options, and improve relationships among education and service providers.

To learn more about the Grow Your Future project, please contact: Courtney Breckenridge, Project Manager, Building Illinois’ Bioeconomy Consortium 400 University Park Drive, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, Edwardsville, IL, 62025 Email:  

Diana Nastasia, Ph.D., Project Management Associate, Building Illinois’ Bioeconomy Consortium 400 University Park Drive, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, Edwardsville, IL, 62025 Email: