Testing Strategic Resonance with Adult Learner-Workers

Published on
January 16, 2024

Strada Education Foundation (Strada), a national 501c3 grantmaking and research institution based in Indianapolis, IN, was ready to launch a new 5-year flagship strategy for the organization’s work.

In line with its Northstar - to collaborate with learners, educators, employers, and policymaker across the U.S to bring to life a postsecondary education and training system that provides equitable pathways to opportunity - the organization recognized the importance of first testing the resonance of its strategy with working adults, a significant focus of its future plans. 

To understand the perception among working adults of its strategy, Strada partnered with Common Group to implement a human-centered design approach to capture the voice of its constituents, and inform Strada’s communications strategy as it launched its new vision. 

During an 8-week research intensive, Common Group sought to understand the personal connections that working learners drew with Strada’s strategy, and crucially, how learners themselves would articulate the goals and levers of Strada's strategic vision. 

To do this, Common Group engaged with 14 constituents through a series of one-on-one interviews and focus groups, meeting with a cross-section of learners facing hurdles including financial hardships, single parenthood, justice involvement, housing instability, and limited access to information on career and education pathways. 

This design research exercise yielded deep insights about each of Strada’s five strategic pillars, leading to the development of three distinct adult learner-worker personas around which Strada could structure its future communications. Insights also contextualized possible underlying priorities behind each strategic pillar - for example, clear outcomes must be delivered by a trusted messenger, and affordability is about much more than costs.

The report was briefed to Strada’s executive leadership, and resulted in novel insights as the organization finalized its strategy and communication approach. Most of all, it ensured the organization remained accountable to its Northstar, collaborating with learnersto bring to life a postsecondary education and training system that provides equitable pathways to opportunity.

Learn more about Strada Education Foundation’s priorities here.