Our Pathways to Excellence Program:

This approach to excellence follows similar approaches including that used by Community Action Agencies and other Baldrige Award application methodologies. The tiered approached allows Assessment Center to enter the pathway beginning with an entry-level or “commitment” level. Levels progress and require more intensive engagement with the Assessment Center Framework. Successful completion of levels requires the completion of requirements of previous level with the final level recognized as a Center for Excellence. An Assessment Center’s engagement and enrollment in the Pathways to Excellence is voluntary. Agencies completing each level will receive formal recognition at annual NAC Conference if they have completed the level prior to January 1st of the previous year.

Bronze Level Assessment Center: Commitment to Excellence

The focus of Bronze Level is to allow the agency to take the initial step toward excellence by learning more about the Framework and best practices throughout. The Assessment Center invests in training staff in the Assessment Center Framework and best practices. Requirements include:

(1) Registered NAC Member and completed agency profile in our Membership System
(2) Completion of an Assessment 101 for all Assessment Center Board or governance members and required for staff onboarding 


Silver Level Assessment Center: Planning for Excellence

The silver level focuses on a self-assessment of operations and structure that will allow for a plan for excellence. The process requires Assessment Centers to examine, review, and reflect on their current operations and to what extent those operations align with the Assessment Center Framework. The self-assessment tool will help Centers gauge not only where there is alignment, but also where opportunities exist for improvement and enhancement. Self assessment tools can also serve as goal-setting tools for organizations and help inform strategic planning and continuous quality improvement efforts. The Assessment Center actively participates in a self-assessment cohort and completes the self assessment tool. Silver level Assessment Centers can show an action plan developed from the self-assessment process. Specific requirements include:

(1) Completion of the Bronze Level requirements
(2) Development of an Implementation Team
(3) Cohort kick-off meeting with NAC staff to plan activities
(4) Participation in cohort meetings, typically one per month for eight months, to assist in self-assessment(
5) Commitment from internal implementation team to meet in between monthly NAC meetings to carry out actionable items

(6) Development of an agency action plan based on results from self-assessment tools


Gold Level Assessment Center: Implementation of Excellence

The gold level focuses on implementation of the plan developed through the silver phase. In this level the Assessment Center has gone through the self-assessment process two or more times and can show an increase in ratings from year to year that indicates improvements made to operations. The Assessment Center can show the various action plans and progress on actionable items identified in the change plan. Requirements include:

(1) Completion of Bronze and Silver level requirements
(2) Completion of a second self-assessment to analyze and compare ratings and scores from previous self-assessment to assess improvements
Center of Excellence
To become a Center of Excellence, an Assessment Center demonstrates its alignment and implementation of the Assessment Center Framework, onsite, before a team of experienced peer reviewers who confirm the Assessment Center’s achievement of Excellence. For a complete overview of the Center of Excellence process, see page 3-5. Requirements include:
(1) Completion of Gold Center requirements
(2) Submission of latest self-assessment tool. Note: All core components must score within implementation or sustainment phases, or majority of the benchmarks are rated as a Formal Policy and Practice
(3) Submission of application and required items (see below); application fees apply
(4) Site visit by up to 5 Excellence commissioners/reviewers and NAC staff (Assessment Centers applying for the Center of Excellence are required to cover all site visit costs for reviewers) 

Application Process: The Center of Excellence is the highest level within our Pathways to Excellence.  It requires an application and, if approve, pre-visit work and an onsite visit.  The on-site visit process is intended to provide a systematic review of Assessment Center strengths and partnerships as well as identify the areas where practice can be improved. For organizational purposes, observations are groups in accordance with the core components and guiding principles. Please note that the core components are interrelated and may, therefore, be relevant under multiple observations or interviews.  CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION ON THE CENTER OF EXCELLENCE APPLICATION PROCESS

Please reach out to [email protected] if you have any questions regarding our Center of Excellence process or application.