To advance the crucial mission of the Arizona Attainment Alliance (A++), led by Northern Arizona University (NAU), the State of Arizona recently supported NAU’s successful application to the national Data Labs program to strengthen and better integrate data and technical infrastructure between A++ partners.
The Data Labs program is a collaboration between the Beeck Center for Social Impact + Innovation at Georgetown University and the National Governors Association (NGA). Data Labs empowers states to use data more effectively, efficiently, and equitably by convening cross-functional state teams, offering in-depth technical assistance, and leveraging insights from subject matter experts.
A++ is an innovative partnership between NAU, the state’s 10 community college districts and the Arizona Commerce Authority (ACA) that launched last fall with the goal of dramatically boosting Arizona’s postsecondary attainment rate so Arizonans can participate in the state’s ongoing economic transformation. Building on early initiatives launched through the Alliance, including the Universal Admissions program announced earlier this spring, the A++ Data Labs project will tackle an essential and invaluable component of the statewide educational ecosystem’s future objectives by supporting the buildout of more robust, optimized and student success-centered data sharing between NAU and A++ partner institutions.
Data Labs engages diverse coalitions of partners to learn best practices for developing data systems across autonomous institutions and agencies, which requires as much cultural insight and knowledge of navigating government and policy landscapes as it does technical expertise. Through the A++ Data Labs project, national experts will support the work of A++ institutions, in collaboration with the ACA and the Arizona Governor’s Office, to make better data-informed decisions in pursuit of attainment and student success.
This year’s cohort is the second participating in the Data Labs program and is composed of six state governments from throughout the country: Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Minnesota, Nevada and West Virginia. The nine-month program offers hands-on support in the execution of diverse state-supported projects that include safety net benefits, workforce transitions, and student outcomes.
“We are excited to welcome Arizona into the Data Labs program,” said Lynn Overmann, executive director of the Beeck Center. “We look forward to working with Northern Arizona University and the Arizona Attainment Alliance alongside NGA, as they hone data-informed solutions to advance student success and opportunity.”
“Thanks to the support of Gov. Hobbs and many others throughout the state, NAU and our A++ partners look forward to participating in the 2023 Data Labs program,” said José Luis Cruz Rivera, President of NAU. “NAU will fully leverage this opportunity to better align inter-institutional data systems with a shared vision of student success and equitable postsecondary attainment that will directly benefit the people and communities of our state in driving attainment, economic mobility, and social wellbeing.”
“With Arizona leading the way as a hub for business and innovation, it’s so important that we have a strong and sustainable workforce,” said Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs. “I am pleased to hear that my alma mater, NAU, is joining the Data Labs program to facilitate more efficient ways to help Arizonans achieve higher education and join the workforce. Congratulations, and I look forward to seeing the success of such a unique and important program.”
“Creating an optimized, student-centric data infrastructure will lead to more timely, accurate, relevant and integrated data that will fuel prosperity in Arizona,” said Jonathan Gagliardi, Vice President of Economic Mobility and Social Impact at NAU. “By facilitating collaboration between A++, the Office of the Governor and across state agencies, the Data Labs program sends a powerful message about the power of cross-sector collaboration between government and higher education to benefit individuals, communities and the economy.”
This year’s Data Labs program comes on the heels of a successful inaugural cohort in 2021, which led eight states through data-driven projects that addressed higher education, housing and homelessness, small business support and workforce support. More information on the inaugural cohort can be found in the Data Labs Playbook.
The second annual Data Labs cohort is underway and will run through October 2023. Visit the Data Labs website to learn more.