HERE to HERE—with support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Deutsche Bank Americas Foundation—released a Request for Proposals (RFP) in July 2021. The Braided Pathways Fund seeks to make 10-20 grants of up to $50,000 each to New York City public high schools, CUNY institutions and their CBO partners that are committed to braiding work-based learning into students’ academic experiences using the Key Distinguishers

The Key Distinguishers provide guidance and examples of how to achieve the goals of the New York City Center for Youth Employment’s CareerReadyNYC framework. Created in collaboration with partners across educational and employer settingsincluding the Key Distinguishers Task Force, a group of more than 70 practitioners who co-developed and pressure tested the Key Distinguishers 1.0—the Key Distinguishers have the potential to transform the way the youth talent development system functions by providing a framework of guiding principles and practices for high-quality, work-based learning that is integrated into academics. The framework is intended to help everyone along the youth talent development spectrum describe, understand the importance of, and meet shared expectations for high-quality, impactful work-based learning experiences.  

We are thrilled to have awarded 15 grants to 11 New York City public high schools, 4 CUNY institutions and their CBO partners, all committed to braiding work-based learning into students’ academic experiences, in alignment with the Key Distinguishers framework. In addition to cash awards, HERE to HERE will support a Community of Practice, and provide technical assistance to support participants’ efforts. Together we’ll produce new case studies, playbooks, and research to highlight best practice and needed policy supports for integrated work-based learning across NYC.

The Braided Pathways Fund is an opportunity to promote best practices by practitioners, prioritize student career success, demonstrate and elevate exemplars in braided pathways, and mobilize champions in coalescing around a set of criteria to guide effective engagement in work-based learning.

The list of grantees include: 

The awards also mark the formation of a Community of Practice, a learning opportunity targeted to NYC-based high schools, CUNY institutions, and CBOs that would benefit from learning and sharing strategies to improve and expand work-based learning opportunities to benefit more students and employers. Members of the Community of Practice will include the 15 grantees, plus up to ten additional applicants, with a nominal honorarium in recognition of their participation. The Community of Practice will offer members the opportunity to learn with their peers, share and highlight their own approaches, improve their practices, receive coaching from H2H staff and experienced members, and design solutions to shared challenges facing the youth talent development field.

Application Highlights 

The response to the RFP was overwhelming, underscoring the momentum we are seeing for this work. HERE to HERE received 76 applications, a tremendous show of interest in and examples of braiding learning from work into students’ educational pathways. We are thrilled that so many high schools and CUNY programs are focused on creating and sustaining quality work-based learning.

Of the applications received:

  • 40% of applications were focused on highlighting exemplary practice of braided pathways and 60% on pursuing new/redesign efforts of integrated work based learning. Bronx-based applicants were more likely to apply for a highlighting exemplary practice grant, which we are excited by, as an opportunity to highlight Bronx leadership in the field.
  • Half of the applications came from high schools (36). Ten applications came from CUNY institutions, and 30 came from CBOs. Of those 30 CBO applications, 26 would reach high schools, and 4 would reach CUNY partners.

Review Committee & Scoring Process 

HERE to HERE convened 30 stakeholders – employers, field experts, and young people – to review applications. Field experts included funders, educators (DOE and CUNY), community providers, and other public stakeholders. Two students participated in the review process, reading and scoring as peers in the Committee. Readers were provided a standard scoring rubric, with the opportunity to score  applications and recommend applicants for a grant award or participation in a Community of Practice focused on advancing the Key Distinguishers and identifying and addressing policy issues to support Braided Pathways across the City. 

In addition to the raw scores, our decision making included key equity considerations, including: borough representation, at least 50% Bronx-serving schools/institutions/organizations, representation across high school types, analysis of demographic information to ensure BIPOC representation amongst students served, and a balance among high school and CUNY efforts.


Check out the recording from our Braided Pathways RFP Informational Webinar on July 13.

The Key Distinguishers in Action

Hear from stakeholders invested in work-based learning–students, educators, employers, community-based organizations–about how they put the Key Distinguishers in action.