Why a Strategic Plan Now?
The Washington Center (TWC) was originally established to offer colleges and universities high quality experiential education for students in response to growing research and trends around immersive learning and career readiness needs in higher education. Since our founding in 1975, TWC has positioned itself as a premier provider of immersive, experiential learning opportunities in and around Washington, enabling students to move from an on-campus major to a professional identity and career readiness skills. As our founder, Bill Burke, once wrote, TWC is “more than just a resume-building experience” as TWC’s comprehensive program seeks to enhance students’ academic, civic and professional development through expert guidance and exposure to the ideas and insights of nationally and internationally renowned guest speakers, mentors and professionals. And, as a mission-based nonprofit, TWC has always been committed to making our programs accessible for all students. The COVID-19 pandemic laid bare inequities in our society, including in education and in the workplace. Harnessing the national dialogue to mitigate systemic racism and bolster equity, diversity and inclusion, TWC has a once-in-a-generation chance to serve historically marginalized students and advance their social and economic mobility in lasting ways. As we aim to create a new normal so all can thrive and not just merely survive, TWC likewise needed to assess the WHAT, WHY, HOW and FOR WHOM we serve – and redefine what impact and outcomes should be post-pandemic for our mission-driven non-profit organization. To that end, The Washington Center embarked on a strategic planning process in October 2021. Reflecting on the learnings offered by the pandemic, changing demographics, challenges in the higher education value proposition model, the future of work national debate, and a renewed commitment to offering life-changing experiences that are accessible to all students, we are pleased to present our vision and plan for The Washington Center. During TWC's almost five decades of impact, we’ve adapted our model to meet the political, economic and social changes, ensuring TWC’s relevance and prominent place in the intersection of higher education and meaningful lives and careers. Today, change is happening at unprecedented rates. We live in an exceptional time in human history that has never offered more opportunities to innovate and improve lives while facing myriad of disruptive changes and challenges. To seize the moment and ensure TWC is positioned to meet our stakeholders’ needs, the organization needs to adapt and operate with greater intentionality, focus and agility. We firmly believe the following presents a call to action, a call to reexamine our assumptions, and a harkening back to the nascent beginnings of The Washington Center in the 1970s. We thank you for your partnership in our work. Together, we know that we can chart a course for The Washington Center’s bright future.
Through our new strategic plan, we’ll bolster new ways of creating flexible learning pathways with technology to provide online and virtual programs to serve thousands more students, centering and prioritizing historically marginalized learners.”
Kimberly Churches, President