Alternative Pathways: Are They Set Up for Success?

by: Jeff Dinski | Tools and Infographics |Jun 14th, 2017

The Bottom Line

A rapidly expanding collection of companies and organizations are operating and launching Alternative Pathways programs to accelerate individuals’ economic and employment mobility. While drawing on elements of more traditional education-to-employment programs, Alternative Pathways programs (APPs) explicitly prepare participants for validated, in-demand workforce opportunities, often in a much shorter timeframe, and sometimes at a lower cost, than typical higher education or apprentice programs.

We recently derived six “pillars” enabling APP success across a diverse set of prospective participants, derived from an extensive market analysis of companies and organizations in the APP landscape.


Our analysis highlights the spectrum of models within each pillar and identifies the optimal one for those APPs serving non-traditional adult learners. While no organizations we reviewed exhibited all six of the optimal pillars, leading practices did emerge. How does the Alternative Pathways program you are involved with compare?

The Takeaways

These program pillars provide a blueprint for existing and new Alternative Pathway programs to audit their program model, infrastructure, and support services to reach more participants and improve outcomes. The Program Pillars framework can be used in several ways, including:

  • Evaluation and Assessment: Provides a definitive model that allows APPs to assess where they are strong and where they need to make adjustments; creates a framework for investors and other funders to evaluate existing portfolio organizations and new potential investments.
  • Investment and Focus: Based on the evaluation, the framework helps APPs to maximize investment, by allowing companies and organizations to target and optimize the most important aspects of their programs (program pillars); it also allows funders to target investments and assist APPs in overcoming barriers they face in scaling and expanding their model in current or new locations.
  • Coordination across the APP Community: Creates common vernacular and a set of concepts for programs to share best practices.
  • Partnering: Allows employers to identify the APPs most likely to be successful and meet their needs, and postsecondary institutions to determine what APPs to potentially work with to incorporate new concepts into their existing programs (or possibly create their own alternative pathways programs).

To Learn More…

Access Tyton Partners’ Path to Employment: Maximizing the Impact of Alternative Pathways Programs, a two-part publication series sponsored by The James Irvine Foundation. Click here to connect with our team and learn more about APPs and how this analysis may support your organizational and / or investment goals.


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