As we geared up for strategic planning and began to think more deeply about what innovation – an integral part of our core values – looks like at the Collaborative, NECC initiated, “Innovation Exercises” that included every member of the team.
The Innovation Exercises pushed teams to look beyond the large new projects that are commonplace at NECC, and to instead examine the tasks we complete each and every day. A complete examination – reflecting on what we should Stop, Start, and Consider – created room for the organization to take on new, more impactful projects rather than piling on additional work and sticking with the status quo.
The workgroups charted the course for strategic planning and helped to define NECC’s commitment to innovation, both in theory and in practice.
In June, we welcomed staff back to the office after more than a year. We implemented an alternating hybrid schedule to accommodate for social distancing until late September, when all employees were in the office Monday-Thursday.
During this time, we also defined, refined, and introduced NECC’s core values to staff. Our culture is anchored through a shared purpose for the work we do, and our core values help to establish that foundation.
NECC was fortunate to experience growth throughout the pandemic, but once we convened back in the office, we soon realized there were several new faces who had next to no interaction outside of their own departments. Additionally, tenured staff had not spent much time in our new office building prior to the pandemic, so the environment felt new in more ways than one.
Part of refamiliarizing staff with each other and with the office was by establishing a committee of employees now known as our “Culture Crew.” The Culture Crew’s mission is to make working at NECC fun, to bring people together, and to build personal connections among team members. In their first few months of existence, they’ve coordinated staff volunteer opportunities, happy hours, and even an all-day trip to Vala’s Pumpkin Patch with great response from the rest of the NECC team.
As we work to strengthen both the recognizability and the consistency of our brand, NECC began an entire brand refresh in January 2021. The refresh began with inspiration from the Licensing Toolkit program and wrapped after an all-staff workshop that allowed every team member the opportunity to drive the look and feel of our new brand.
Out of the workshops, we established three goals:
1. Create thorough look and feel throughout the whole organization and develop a solid communications plan for the next 18 months.
2. Infuse best practices of marketing to the larger team and help them understand the importance of brand consistency.
3. Create clarity around all our audiences so that the different messages in the communication plans are targeted.
Elevating our brand is part of our organizational commitment to Raising the Bar. Thanks in no small part to our Marketing & Communications team, NECC has taken our products to the next level in their look and feel.
In 2021, NECC closed out its first strategic plan. As the 2018-2021 strategic plan came to a close, NECC partnered with the Public Equity Group to support the development of the Collaborative’s second strategic plan. The strategic planning process was informed by staff members, funders, and other key stakeholders. NECC is at a critical juncture as we launch our second strategic plan and transition out of shared services work with Educare Omaha and embark on some new adventures to help us grow in different directions.
These goals will be the focus of our growth and where we spend significant energy in the coming years. On our website
you will find additional details around each of these goals. But, to ensure we achieve measurable progress around each of these goals each year, we are beginning the process of operationalizing these goals.
Expanding our reach and impact in the early childhood community to drive access and sustainability;
Ensuring a deep commitment to DEI internally and externally; and
Strengthening our organizational capacity and sustainability.
Each year the Collaborative will engage staff to operationalize the strategic plan.table of contents
Leveraging existing capacity born out of the Early Head Start – Child Care Partnership, NECC expanded its child care enrollment supports statewide with its Coordinated Enrollment program that supports families in their search for a safe, quality child care setting for their child.
Families receive personalized services by working with NECC’s Coordinated Enrollment Specialists, who help find openings at quality child care centers and identify the best payment options. The Coordinated Enrollment Specialists also connects families with community resources for parenting support, basic needs, and educational assistance.