Each year, thousands of students are provided career exposure through WorkReady, a cross-sector partnership managed by the Philadelphia Youth Network (PYN) that is dedicated to improving the economic outcomes of the city’s youth. In 2011, federal and state revenue supporting WorkReady dropped sharply, reducing the number of youth served and revealing capacity weaknesses in the system. While PYN had the ability to monitor compliance and data reporting, it did not have the capability to undertake a comprehensive assessment of its models and to address the capacity of its providers to ensure quality service in the face of funding cuts.
Through her Emerging Leader Fellowship, Catherine Buttner supported PYN’s strategic efforts to promote high-quality service delivery and to develop capacity-building services that infuse data-driven decision-making into PYN’s program management. To this end, Catherine expanded PYN’s knowledge base by developing a framework for aggregating provider-level data and piloting two capacity-building assessment tools. She helped usher in an organizational culture shift by cultivating staff buy-in about the importance of capacity-building. Lastly, she established a peer learning network for providers and helped to direct resources to those most in need to improve their ability to compete for future funding opportunities.