History of Global Pathways Institute

The Global Pathways Institute was launched in June, 2014, and is based at Arizona State University. It is directed by William C. Symonds, who gained international recognition as the primary author of the Pathways to Prosperity report, which was issued by the Harvard Graduate School of Education in 2011. The Institute grew out of the vision for preparing all youth for success that was first expressed in this landmark report.

The report highlighted our national failure to prepare many young Americans to lead successful lives as adults. It argued that we could reverse this failure if we worked together to forge pathway systems that would more effectively prepare young people for economic independence.

The report advanced three primary strategies for creating such systems: (1) providing all youth with multiple pathways to success; (2) engaging employers in these pathways systems; and (3) developing a “new social compact” with young people, aimed at equipping them with the education and experience needed to lead successful lives as adults.

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Symonds had primary responsibility for preparing the report while serving as director of the Pathways to Prosperity Project at Harvard from 2008-2013. Following its publication, he spoke about the report’s findings in 40 states, as well as in Canada and New Zealand. Later, he helped organize the Creating Pathways to Prosperity conference, which was held at Harvard University in March, 2013.

This event attracted more than 400 attendees from across the country and around the world, including educators, business representatives from Fortune 500 companies, and political leaders. The conference concluded with a call for creating a more effective pathways system that would improve career guidance, expand high-quality “multiple pathways” options for young people, and increase opportunities for work-based learning.

In the fall of 2013, many of the leaders involved in the conference gathered in Washington, D.C., and developed the idea of creating an Institute dedicated to advancing this work. A group of visionary leaders in Arizona quickly offered to provide a home for the Institute. These leaders built a coalition of companies, foundations, business organizations and government agencies that contributed the funds needed to launch what would be known as the Global Pathways Institute.