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Innovative high school models recognize that preparing students to navigate the complex roadmap of career-related pathways requires supporting students in ways that go beyond mastery of core academic skills and content. Taking a more relationship-centered approach, these programs are partnering with youth to strengthen their own identities and sense of purpose which can serve as a north star as they navigate their personal and professional journeys.

Session Learning Outcomes:

  1. Gain insight into the emerging evidence for students’ relationships in development of occupational identity, sense of purpose, and, in turn, long-term career optionality.
  2. Understand promising school-based designs driven by student voice and aimed at fostering deeper existing relationships and broader networks in students’ lives.
  3. Gain visibility into emerging measures of relationship quality that can guide equitable, data-driven approaches to fostering students’ identity and sense of purpose.


  • Mahnaz Charania, Christensen Institute
  • Andrew Frishman, Big Picture Learning
  • Yutaka Tamura, nXu
  • Nathaniel Cole, Guild Education
  • Izzy Fitzgerald, San Diego MET High School