Think Together | September 13, 2022
Think Together, one of California's largest nonprofits serving K-12 schools today announced it has completed the merger with Orenda Education, a top school improvement and professional development consultancy. Upon the close, the combined organization will serve more than 200,000 students across the state with more than $150 million in annual revenue. Moreover, the organization will be better positioned to rapidly scale their impact.
"We're thrilled to bring our two organizations together in our combined efforts to improve student success and close the achievement gap,This merger is the natural evolution of Orenda's existing relationship with Think Together and solidifies our joint commitment to ensuring that the more than 2 million California students that are performing far below grade level have the support they need during the school day and beyond to succeed academically."
Think Together Founder and CEO Randy Barth
Over the past seven years, Think Together and Orenda have had an affiliate agreement in place while the full acquisition builds the long-term financial and operational capacities for Orenda to continue to scale. Orenda's work focuses on transformingeducation systems, either across a school district or by cohorts of schools, providing professional development to all levels of district staff, around a specific data-driven but people-centric school improvement model. Think Together partners with over 60 school districts and charter management organizations to provide more than 900 direct-to-student academic and enrichment programs at more than 450 school sites across California, serving more than 100,000 youth. Orenda Education works behind-the-scenes with school district leaders and educators to identify inequities in schools and then transform their systems to ensure all students have access to a premium education. "Think Together has always been an incredible partner, infusing the infrastructure needed to provide an efficient model for changing the odds for kids," said Orenda Education Founder and CEO Dr. Robin Avelar La Salle. "Our two models have always complemented each other but now, we can efficiently scale our vision for all students to receive the premium education they deserve." The acquisition comes as both organizations experience tremendous growth due in large part to new and renewed state investments in education to accelerate learning recovery efforts and provide educators with needed support amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. "Now more than ever, teachers, school leaders and administrators need to think outside the box to address the issues impacting students including socio-economic biases, social emotional learning, and more," added Barth. "Providing these much-needed supports to educators means districts and schools can provide the skills they need to teach, lead and counsel during and following a period of great disruption during the pandemic. Recently the U.S. Department of Education reported a dramatic decline in scores from the National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) known as the nation's scorecard. Two decades of growth for American students in reading and math were wiped away by just two years of pandemic-disrupted learning, according to national test scores released last week. And, the declines were much larger for students at lower performance levels, widening already-huge learning disparities between the country's high- and low-achievers. Orenda's approach to school improvement has proven to accelerate student outcomes, such as mastery of grade-level standards (measured by math and English language SBAC scores), improved A-G class completion rates, and improved graduation rates. They also provide administrative coaching, teaching strategies, and leadership clinics. To expand these services, Orenda was recently awarded a $4 million Education Innovation and Research grant by the U.S. Department of Education to digitize and distribute their school improvement approach through an online platform that is effective and highly scalable to schools and districts in any geography, and to those who require less in-person support. Think Together adds Orenda to their growing list of services that support student education in and around the school day. Think Together's flagship afterschool programs support students in underserved communities with homework help, enrichment, social-emotional learning and physical well-being, all to enable students to strive for college or a fulfilling career. To provide high-quality programs, Think Together partners with philanthropic organizations like the Joseph Drown Foundation. "Breaking down the barriers to opportunity, equity and access in education by keeping students and their success as the centered focus is one of the most meaningful investments for our future generations" said Alyssa Santino, Program Director of the Joseph Drown Foundation. "Ensuring the educators, leaders and structures around students are supported and inspired and effectively trained with research-based, proven and engaging strategies is imperative for thriving students and communities. We are pleased to partner with Think Together and Orenda Education as they excel in this space and continue to transform the trajectory of students and the schools they attend." Barth sees the combination of direct services to students through expanded and early learning, coupled with equity-based professional development, as an effective combination to supporting student achievement alongside their school district and charter partners. Dr. Paul Gothold, Superintendent of County Office of Education in San Diego agrees. His former district, Lynwood Unified School District, realized astonishing improvements when partnering with both Think Together and Orenda, including increasing graduation rates from 56% to 90.8%, and A-G college eligible rates from 18% to 53%. Orenda provides the technical expertise for true district turn-around. The systems approach and professional development modules to build staff capacity ensures all leaders have the tools and resources to provide a premium education for all students, said Gothold. "With Think Together's financial and operational support, Orenda is well positioned to continue providing much-needed education innovation to schools throughout the state and beyond.
About Think Together
For over 25 years Think Together has partnered with schools and communities to pursue educational equity and excellence for all kids. As a nonprofit organization, Think Together innovates, implements, and scales academic solutions that change the odds for hundreds of thousands of California students. Think Together's program areas include early learning, afterschool, school support services and leadership development for teachers and school administrators.
Juniper Networks | August 10, 2022
Juniper Networks, a leader in secure, AI-driven networks, today announced that Online Education Services (OES), an online education enabler, has selected Juniper’s wired and wireless solutions to power its networking experience. With a secure AI-driven network, OES is set to advance the online education industry through its digitally enabled solutions alongside its partner universities.
OES was established in 2011 with the goal of delivering innovative education experiences that attract, engage and retain students. Through partnerships with highly regarded Australian education providers, OES provides the expertise to create engaging online learning experiences for students who are not catered for by traditional campus-based offerings. Through proven successful and long-standing partnerships, OES has supported universities to grow at scale and speed while maintaining the highest academic quality.
To sustain its continued business growth, OES relocated to a larger office building and required a high-performing network to support increasing demands and growing number of staff. In addressing this, Juniper’s Wireless Access Points with Juniper Mist Wi-Fi Assurance were deployed to provide access to high-speed and reliable connectivity powered by automation. Coupled with Mist AI, the overall management and operation of OES’s network was greatly simplified, while enabling AI-driven insights into its users’ experiences. The ease of implementation also allowed for continued agility, a critical factor for OES as it looks to expand its business locally and internationally.
“We are pleased to have been selected by OES to support their advancement in the online education industry. Through our AI-driven solutions, we have built a simplified and automated network that is agile enough to scale with OES’s growing business. We are confident that OES will reap the benefits of a seamless high-speed wireless connectivity as it continues to grow its business in accelerating the digital learning experiences for students around the world.”
- Bruce Bennie, Vice President & General Manager, Australia & New Zealand at Juniper Networks
With Juniper’s experience-first approach to networking, we have a secure and automated network that can be managed from a centralized location, allowing for greater efficiency across our IT operations. Through its AI-driven solutions, we are confident that Juniper will be able to continue to help us grow and scale our business with agility as we work toward further accelerating the online education industry, Said David Payne, IT Operations Manager, Online Education Services (OES), Australia.
About Juniper Networks
Juniper Networks is dedicated to dramatically simplifying network operations and driving superior experiences for end users. Our solutions deliver industry-leading insight, automation, security, and AI to drive real business results. We believe that powering connections will bring us closer together while empowering us all to solve the world’s greatest challenges of well-being, sustainability, and equality.
CORPORATE LEARNING SYSTEMS
Cornerstone OnDemand | September 08, 2022
Cornerstone OnDemand, Inc., a global leader in adaptive HR solutions, announced today that BBVA, a leading financial institution, is leveraging Cornerstone’s tools to develop and enhance its employee growth strategies and manage various talent areas, including recruitment, assessment, learning and mobility. More than a decade ago, BBVA began a digital transformation process that has accelerated in recent years as a result of the pandemic. The new jobs and competencies needed to ensure a successful business transformation represent a significant challenge, requiring an agile response from a talent development perspective. BBVA understood that one of the keys to adaptation was to accelerate and modernize its learning strategy for its workforce. This led the organization to create several innovative talent projects, each with the goal of giving its employees the most accessible and personalized learning and development tools. "Employees are the backbone of every great company," says José María Monge, BBVA's global Head of Talent Solutions and Head of Talent and Culture South America. “Therefore, investing in their learning and development has become a priority. Cornerstone has allowed us to create an ecosystem of interconnected tools that help us find, retain and train the best talent in our organization in a more agile way, as well as adapt to our current needs."
Some of BBVA's most successful projects to date include:
This initiative uses gamification to make the online learning platform experience more rewarding, interactive and entertaining. Increased learning platform activity as a result of this innovative approach, while encouraging employees to continue to participate in training and development activities. Managed through Cornerstone's e-commerce solution, each course has an associated number of B-tokens, which are awarded to employees upon completion of the training. The more they increase their B-tokens balance, the more access they receive to additional advanced training, including a master's degree. Understanding that a company's know-how often resides with individuals, employees can also earn B-tokens by teaching specific skills to their own colleagues. The B-token model encourages more experienced employees to share their knowledge with other colleagues promoting knowledge sharing and boosting expertise at a Group-wide level. "B-token have enabled our employees to access any training content of interest to them, whether online, virtual or face-to-face. In addition, it has great advantages for the bank as it allows us to promote those actions linked to our strategy, incentivising learning and creating a culture of growth and development," says José María Monge.
“The Camp" Project
The Camp is an initiative created by BBVA and accessed through Cornerstone. It has been designed to accelerate the "reskilling and upskilling" of employees. After identifying 14 core capabilities, BBVA designed training journeys with three levels of specialization. To promote the completion of these journeys, it developed internal gamification through the creation of The Camp. The game consists of a camp where each training journey becomes an expedition and each employee is a hiker, a beginner mountaineer or an advanced mountaineer, depending on how they progress in their expedition. The Camp gamification is accessed through the Cornerstone platform, as both tools are connected. Performance feedback and assessment Evaluating ongoing performance of BBVA employees is a continuous process that culminates in an annual evaluation with a 360-degree view. It incorporates performance feedback from managers, peers, collaborators, as well as colleagues from other areas that the employee may have worked in. BBVA integrated Cornerstone’s evaluation solution with Google Cloud to maximize efficiency in data consolidation process and results analysis, also supporting calibration workflows and customized growth and development plans.
“At Cornerstone, our greatest satisfaction comes when our clients take our solutions and create innovative strategies to nurture talent,BBVA has shown great initiative and creativity, adapting our tools to the specific learning and performance needs of its employees. We look forward to continuing to expand our partnership and helping BBVA grow,"
Marc Altimiras, AVP Cornerstone South
BBVA is a customer-centric global financial services group founded in 1857. The Group has a strong leadership position in the Spanish market, is the largest financial institution in Mexico and it has leading franchises in South America. It is also the leading shareholder in Turkey’s Garanti BBVA and has an important investment, transactional and capital markets banking business in the U.S. Its purpose is to bring the age of opportunities to everyone, based on our customers’ real needs: provide the best solutions, helping them make the best financial decisions, through an easy and convenient experience. The institution rests in solid values: Customer comes first, we think big and we are one team. Its responsible banking model aspires to achieve a more inclusive and sustainable society.
Cornerstone powers the future-ready workforce with adaptive HR solutions designed to unite technology, data and content and inspire a work environment of growth, agility and success for all. With an experimental, AI-powered, skills-based system designed for the contemporary workforce, we help organizations modernize their learning and development experience, deliver the content that matters most from anywhere, accelerate talent and career mobility, and establish skills as the universal language of growth and success across their enterprise. Cornerstone serves more than 7,000 clients and 90 million users and is available in 180 countries and 50 languages.