Expansion & Scale
Scaling up or expanding the WFS strategy is more complicated than simply signing up more participants; it is a part of continuous improvement processes and systems change. The initial design of a WFS strategy should be made with scale in mind: what would the WFS approach look like at full capacity, and is the design for the initial implementation of WFS feasible at that level?
There is no silver bullet or “one best way” to scale. Local context, available resources, target recipients, delivery method and time constraints all drive unique approaches. When designing a WFS strategy for scale, you must consider institutional culture and constraints, institutional objectives and the potential or desire for change within existing systems. You might think of it as designing a landscape plan for a home. You select plants and place them according to how they’ll look when they’re fully grown; everything might look strange when there’s only new growth, but you have to be patient and nurture the plantings.
Changing the Way the College Works
Scaling up is not always associated with securing additional funding support. Magnifying the impact of the WFS strategy requires an institution to change the way it does business. The college must align itself toward the goal of connecting all students with educational and economic success. Building the capacity and will to do that can happen in many ways, including: 1) changing the culture of the institution so that all faculty and staff buy in to the goal of clearing barriers to economic success for students; 2) reorganizing existing staff time so that more people play a role in supporting students; 3) making better use of technology to provide services to students so that face-to-face time with staff is reserved for difficult, individualized coaching and problem-solving, and 4) strengthening community partnerships to become part of a web of services that moves low-income community members along the path to better jobs and brighter futures.
Scope: Breadth and Depth
The scope of the WFS strategy may vary as an institution plans for expansion. A college could go broad, reaching a large number of individuals with the chosen approach; a college also could go deep, increasing the intensity of services in order to increase the positive outcomes for a targeted group of individuals. The approach—a combination of program, practices and policy—depends on the institution’s culture and the needs of the individuals.
Categories of Scaling
We have identified four general categories of scaling: person, place, thing and idea, just like the definition of a noun. Obviously there will be overlap in the implementation of any expansion; an institution may employ multiple types of scaling in a single solution. Each one will look different at each institution, depending on the breadth and depth of the chosen strategy.
- Person: This is generally the first thing that comes to mind when we talk about scale: expanding the number of individuals with access to integrated services.
- Place: This is another approach that fits into a typical definition of expansion: replicating the WFS approach in new locales.
- Thing: The WFS practice is replicated not in a new place, but in a new administrative home.
- Idea: This approach is focused on the individual delivering the WFS services. To scale an idea, a college can introduce new practices with the intent of changing behavior to improve the quality and increase the positive outcomes of the WFS strategy.
Note: some of the content of this section has been adapted from More to Most, MDC’s guidebook on Scaling Up Effective Practices at Community Colleges.