news and events

How micro-pathways are transforming CUNY’s LaGuardia Community College

This is part of an ongoing Transformation Profile series spotlighting innovative partners in the Community College Growth Engine (CCGE) initiative at the Education Design Lab.
More profiles: Kingsborough Community College  | Queensborough Community College  | Borough of Manhattan Community College 

CUNY background

The City University of New York (CUNY) is the nation’s largest urban public university, consisting of seven open-access community colleges, 11 senior colleges, and seven graduate and professional schools. The colleges are distributed across the city and serve 243,000 degree-seeking students and approximately 200,000 noncredit/continuing education students annually. Recent system and state policy developments are positioned to offer additional support and completion momentum to current and future CUNY students. Three years ago, CUNY’s Board of Trustees established a policy that requires all CUNY colleges to have an official user-friendly process for applying Credit for Prior Learning to college credit degrees and certificates. This policy is now active at all CUNY institutions. In addition, the state of New York expanded eligibility for the Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) to part-time students effective immediately, enabling at least 30,000 more learners to receive aid. The program requires matriculation into a college credit program of study, something which micro-pathways accelerate since all are designed with credits that apply to higher learning. Final regulations are being established that include resources available to non-citizens who reside in the state. In addition to policy partners, CUNY schools also benefit from a partnership with the New York Jobs CEO Council, that connects colleges to corporations throughout the New York metropolitan area to enrich training programs and expedite job placement for completers.

CUNY colleges that were part of the Community College Growth Engine’s first cohort include Kingsborough, Queensborough, Borough of Manhattan, and LaGuardia community colleges.

College background

LaGuardia Community College (LAGCC) was founded in 1971 as part of CUNY and is located in Long Island City, Queens, NY. It is led by President Kenneth Adams and serves nearly 27,000 students from 145 countries speaking 77 languages. Approximately 36% of its student body is enrolled in the division of Adult and Continuing Education (ACE), 80% of whom are Hispanic or Black. ACE students can choose from 70 areas of study knowing that ACE will help them develop the skills required to thrive in a living-wage job, whether they are changing careers, advancing in their fields, or preparing to enter the workforce for the first time.

 

What is a micro-pathway?

Co-designed with learners and employers, micro-pathways are defined as two or more stackable credentials, including a 21st century skill micro-credential, that are flexibly delivered to be achieved within less than a year and result in a job at or above the local median wage, and start learner-earners on the path to an associate degree.

CUNY LaGuardia Community College designed three micro-pathways in Data Analytics, Cybersecurity, and Community Health.

LAGCC’s Data Analytics Certificate leads to a career as an entry-level Data Analyst. Download the PDF.

 

LAGCC’s Cybersecurity Certificate leads to a career as a cybersecurity professional. Download the PDF.

 

LAGCC’s Community Health Worker Certificate leads to a career as a Community Health Worker. Download the PDF.

 

Transformation highlights

Engaging employers from the start helped transform the curriculum. Bringing in key employer partners at the outset and maintaining continuous communication as program modules were updated brought employers more deeply into the specifics than ever before. Moving from generic occupational planning conversations to job-specific, co-development sessions yielded multiple benefits that included guidance on specific required skills and introducing learners to potential employers.

The Lab’s T-Profile tool accelerated the transformation of college-employer relationships. LaGuardia leaders used the T-Profile to engage employers and reaffirm the most essential technical and 21st century skills for in-demand jobs. This enabled discipline experts at the college to adjust the curriculum knowing their students would emerge highly qualified. The T-Profile is now being used more broadly to align the many ways the college interacts with regional employers. The process supports continuous engagement between college leaders, learners, and industry partners to the benefit of all.

Sometimes changes to an existing program can be transformational. An example can be found in the Community Health Worker micro-pathway. A significant number of 21st century skills were already present in the curriculum, but the focus was sharpened with additional practice and assessment to ensure students had full mastery of specific skills valued by employers. A related example in the same program was the addition of a micro-credential focused on technology for healthcare professionals. This new course enabled students to be competitive for jobs involving electronic documentation and case management.

21st century skills have been added to all workforce training programs. Many existing workforce training programs included 21st century skills, but they were not practiced or assessed in a way that ensured learners could demonstrate their related competencies to potential employers. LAGCC used the Lab’s 21st century skill framework and conferred with faculty leaders and employers to elevate the skills most critical specific job positions. All programs now feature at least one 21st century skill and completers receive badges through a cooperative agreement with another department on campus.

Strategic attention was dedicated to aligning credit and noncredit pathways which makes stackable credentials a reality. LaGuardia’s micro-pathways offer completers between three and nine credits that apply toward degrees and certificates in college credit programs. Higher learning opportunities and the associated career options are highlighted throughout training to reinforce upward mobility for learners and make advanced training a natural next step.

Internships drive program design for the micro-pathways. LaGuardia’s Community Health Worker micro-pathway, for example, is designed to be relevant to multiple populations of learners ranging from high school students to incumbent workers employed in the industry. All learners in this micro-pathway participate in a 125-hour internship. These internships keep a group of nearly 50 regional employers continuously engaged with the program and serve as effective off-ramps to jobs as learners complete their credentials.

Programs designed to serve incumbent workers are a hallmark of the micro-pathway programs. Learners already familiar with Data Analytics, for example, can skip the program’s introductory course and start advanced skills training immediately. In addition, employers eager to retain current talent have underwritten training costs and have given completers first consideration for internal promotions.

 

Obstacles + opportunities

Program expansion and stability requires permanent sources of funding for learners and for the design and development of micro-pathway programs. Competitive grants are an invaluable resource, but permanent additional funding from the public sector is badly needed.

Demand for healthcare professionals and paraprofessionals was strong during the pandemic. While COVID increased the need for services, many workers took early retirement or left the field due to burn-out, health and safety concerns, or childcare challenges, increasing the workload on the remaining staff and the stress on healthcare institutions. This created additional opportunities for trained individuals willing to work in person during a pandemic to begin a career in healthcare.

Additional resources are critically needed to expand support services, work-based learning, and internship opportunities. These immersive experiences and direct supports are proven to enhance completion and lead to employment. They are especially critical for learners who lack a professional network. In addition, direct support services for students that connect them with financial resources, basic assistance, and learning resources help close equity gaps.

 

“Short-term, employment-centered training programs are the foundation for offerings at LaGuardia’s Division of Adult and Continuing Education. The Lab gave us the opportunity to invest in redesigning several pathways and have positioned our programs as an on-ramp to jobs and to higher learning at LAGCC. Our program completers have the technical skills and the professional skills to be very competitive in the regional job market.”
Hannah Weinstock, Senior Director of Workforce Development, LaGuardia Community College

“I have enjoyed my time collaborating on labs and projects with fellow LaGuardia Continuing Education students who are excited about information technology. I have learned from instructors who bring much knowledge from their IT career experience and are passionate about our industry.”
Danielle Vasickanin, a micro-pathway program graduate whose academic career began at LaGuardia Community College and resulted in securing an IT job in the region.

 

The Education Design Lab thanks the following leaders at LaGuardia Community College for their innovative leadership in the service of student completion, success, and equity: Hannah Weinstock, Cara Shousterman, Dr. Sunil Gupta, and Chandana Mahadeswaraswamy.

 

This article by Dr. Sara Lundquist is part of the Lab’s work helping community colleges innovate and transform through the micro-pathways design process. Learn more about the Community College Growth Engine here, download our Design Insights Brief, subscribe to our email newsletter for updates, and follow along on Twitter: #Micropathways.

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How micro-pathways are transforming CUNY’s Borough of Manhattan Community College

This is part of an ongoing Transformation Profile series spotlighting innovative partners in the Community College Growth Engine (CCGE) initiative at the Education Design Lab.
More profiles: Kingsborough Community College  | LaGuardia Community College | Queensborough Community College  

CUNY background

The City University of New York (CUNY) is the nation’s largest urban public university, consisting of seven open-access community colleges, 11 senior colleges, and seven graduate and professional schools. The colleges are distributed across the city and serve 243,000 degree-seeking students and approximately 200,000 noncredit/continuing education students annually. Recent system and state policy developments are positioned to offer additional support and completion momentum to current and future CUNY students. Three years ago, CUNY’s Board of Trustees established a policy that requires all CUNY colleges to have an official user-friendly process for applying Credit for Prior Learning to college credit degrees and certificates. This policy is now active at all CUNY institutions. In addition, the state of New York expanded eligibility for the Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) to part-time students effective immediately, enabling at least 30,000 more learners to receive aid. The program requires matriculation into a college credit program of study, something which micro-pathways accelerate since all are designed with credits that apply to higher learning. Final regulations are being established that include resources available to non-citizens who reside in the state. In addition to policy partners, CUNY schools also benefit from a partnership with the New York Jobs CEO Council, that connects colleges to corporations throughout the New York metropolitan area to enrich training programs and expedite job placement for completers.

CUNY colleges that were part of the Community College Growth Engine’s first cohort include Kingsborough, Queensborough, Borough of Manhattan, and LaGuardia community colleges.

College background

Borough of Manhattan Community College (BMCC) was founded in1964 and is the largest of CUNY’s community colleges, serving approximately 20,000 students in 50 college credit programs and another 9,000 in its Division of Adult and Continuing Education. Located in Manhattan and led by Dr. Anthony Munroe, the college’s diverse student body hails from 155 different countries and speaks more than 111 languages. The micro-pathways initiative is closely aligned with BMCC’s strategic plan and its commitment to provide career development leading to meaningful work and family-sustaining wages to its diverse constituency of learners.

 

What is a micro-pathway?

Co-designed with learners and employers, micro-pathways are defined as two or more stackable credentials, including a 21st century skill micro-credential, that are flexibly delivered to be achieved within less than a year and result in a job at or above the local median wage, and start learner-earners on the path to an associate degree.

BMCC designed an Emergency Medical Technician Basic Certificate micro-pathway, which leads to a career as an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT). Download the PDF.

College website

 

Transformation highlights

The Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) micro-pathway was designed from the outset with discipline experts from both credit and noncredit to maximize the units that can be applied toward the A.A.S. degree in Paramedics. This positive dynamic gave the program immediate academic credibility and helped to ensure upward academic mobility for the participating students.

BMCC contextualized the 21st century skills — or “soft” skills — employers value most with EMT-centered learning activities. The Emergency Medical Services (EMS) program director worked closely with the Lab’s 21st century skills team, using the rich frameworks to customize the activities that will help learners demonstrate mastery and articulate their skills including creative problem solving, critical thinking, and empathy.

The micro-pathways design process is helping BMCC embed 21st century skills across several programs. BMCC college leaders in Continuing Education and Academic Affairs have long been interested in elevating soft skills along with the core technical skill curriculum. As employers have emphasized the value they place on 21st century skills in the workplace, college leaders have been looking for ways to integrate them more substantially into the curriculum and to ensure that learners practice them in context. The EMT program transformed a theoretical possibility into a working model that can be adapted across disciplines within and beyond Allied Health with compelling examples of the difference these skills made for learners that extended far beyond the initial coursework and training modules.

BMCC created a strong bridge from K-12 to college by designing an intersegmental EMT pathway that begins in high school, with units that count toward BMCC credentials, and high school graduation. This accomplishment was significant because interested students who could succeed in the program were crushed by the workload that was required in their senior year. Articulating the skills and competencies derived from the BMCC program with high school graduation requirements added relevance and relieved the workload for participating students. At a time when the number of high school students matriculating to college has been declining nationally, programs that seamlessly close the gap between high school and college coursework greatly increase the chances that students will continue to stack credentials and become eligible for median wage jobs with strong future employment prospects. The focus on credential completion as part of finishing high school distinguishes this strategy from other dual-enrollment or early college models where students get a head start on a program they will finish after a year or more of college coursework.

 

Obstacles + opportunities

The importance of engaging faculty in like disciplines across credit and noncredit cannot be overstated. As co-designers of micro-pathways, faculty support helps to maximize the transfer of credits to higher learning, thus accelerating the achievement of certificates and degrees, including university transfer.

The college is considering the development of a credit/noncredit course featuring 21st century skills as a stand-alone Career Readiness class because of the value to learners and employers. The challenge of making this a separate course is that required units in most degree-track majors are already substantial, limiting the capacity for additional units to be counted toward graduation. The provost and academic chairs are working through this program design challenge.

 

“By creating a robust, intersegment micro-pathway training program with college credits and stackable credentials co-designed by faculty experts and industry partners, we were able to bring an active and highly successful career pathway model to life for adaptation to additional disciplines within and beyond Allied Health.”
Dr. Donna McLean-Grant, Director of Programs, Special Projects, and Allied Health, Office of Continuing Education and Workforce Development, Borough of Manhattan Community College

“Our program is designed to maximize upward educational and professional mobility for students as they become successful college students during their final year of high school, master work-based learning skills, and obtain professional certifications that are relevant in the world of work and in the college credit program. I [presented] this model as part of a national conference in October 2022.”
Meghan Williams, M.A., EMS Program Director and Assistant Professor, Borough of Manhattan Community College

 

The Education Design Lab thanks the following leaders at Borough of Manhattan Community College for their commitment to student success, equity, and completion: Dr. Donna McLean-Grant, Meghan Williams, and Anthony Watson.

This article by Dr. Sara Lundquist is part of the Lab’s work helping community colleges innovate and transform through the micro-pathways design process. Learn more about the Community College Growth Engine here, download our Design Insights Brief, subscribe to our email newsletter for updates, and follow along on Twitter: #Micropathways.
news and events

How micro-pathways are transforming CUNY’s Queensborough Community College

This is part of an ongoing Transformation Profile series spotlighting innovative partners in the Community College Growth Engine (CCGE) initiative at the Education Design Lab.
More profiles: Kingsborough Community College |  LaGuardia Community College  |  Borough of Manhattan Community College

CUNY background

The City University of New York (CUNY) is the nation’s largest urban public university, consisting of seven open-access community colleges, 11 senior colleges, and seven graduate and professional schools. The colleges are distributed across the city and serve 243,000 degree-seeking students and approximately 200,000 noncredit/continuing education students annually. Recent system and state policy developments are positioned to offer additional support and completion momentum to current and future CUNY students. Three years ago, CUNY’s Board of Trustees established a policy that requires all CUNY colleges to have an official user-friendly process for applying Credit for Prior Learning to college credit degrees and certificates. This policy is now active at all CUNY institutions. In addition, the state of New York expanded eligibility for the Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) to part-time students effective immediately, enabling at least 30,000 more learners to receive aid. The program requires matriculation into a college credit program of study, something which micro-pathways accelerate since all are designed with credits that apply to higher learning. Final regulations are being established that include resources available to non-citizens who reside in the state. In addition to policy partners, CUNY schools also benefit from a partnership with the New York Jobs CEO Council, that connects colleges to corporations throughout the New York metropolitan area to enrich training programs and expedite job placement for completers.

CUNY colleges that were part of the Community College Growth Engine’s first cohort include Kingsborough, Queensborough, Borough of Manhattan, and LaGuardia community colleges.

College background

Queensborough Community College (QCC) was founded in 1971 and is currently led by Dr. Christine Mangino, who was appointed president in 2020. Serving the Queens community from its campus in Bayside, New York, the college enrolls over 12,000 credit students and nearly 5,000 continuing education students from 117 countries who speak more than 64 languages. Noted for the approximately equal representation of Black, Asian, Hispanic, and white learners, the campus prides itself on the relevance of its programs and the variety of learning modalities offered for local students beginning in high school and continuing through adulthood. Students at Queensborough can choose from over 70 areas of study, many of which are linked to stackable credentials with high workforce relevance.

What is a micro-pathway?

Co-designed with learners and employers, micro-pathways are defined as two or more stackable credentials, including a 21st century skill micro-credential, that are flexibly delivered to be achieved within less than a year and result in a job at or above the local median wage, and start learner-earners on the path to an associate degree.

CUNY Queensborough designed two micro-pathways in information technology (IT): Cloud Computing and Software Engineering, which are explained below.

CUNY Queensborough Community College’s Cloud Computing micro-pathway leads to a career as an entry-level Cloud Engineer. Download the PDF.

College website

 

CUNY Queensborough Community College’s Software Engineering micro-pathway leads to a career as an entry-level Software Engineer. Download the PDF.

College website

Transformation highlights

The college is applying the micro-pathway design framework across existing and new workforce programs. QCC is proactively analyzing job listings in 36 specific areas to ensure alignment with current micro-pathway training programs. This assists in continuing to build strong employer partnerships and to increase successful learner placement upon program completion.

Job placement is transforming from the traditional model of linking students with openings to a proactive model that engages employers continuously to ensure learners have the needed skills employers require.

An elevated Amazon Web Services (AWS) partnership is expanding awareness of workforce trends and helping college leaders and faculty micro-analyze curriculum to expedite placement in AWS-affiliated companies. This effort includes a talent fair where the top 50 Cloud Computing students present their skills via learner profiles to interested employers in a reverse job fair concept. The model has already expanded to other learner populations, including a Women in Technology Hack-a-Thon.

The intensive employer engagement has expanded to Google IT and YouTube, with a cadre of 150 employers in a program bridging noncredit and credit courses. Although outside the original scope of CCGE micro-pathways, this is an especially significant effort as Google and YouTube elevate their national profiles as providers of training and certifications in partnership with an accredited institution of higher education.

With enhanced regional visibility from the deep employer engagement, other sector partners are reaching out to QCC. For example, the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority wants to co-develop a training program for transportation technicians, and partners in telecommunications want to create short-term and pre-apprenticeship programs for cable technicians and other skilled trades professions.

Obstacles + opportunities

The college’s new ways of deeply engaging employers are changing the very nature of QCC’s relationships with partner companies and employers. Rather than working to improve employer communications and program knowledge, the proactive, co-development model allows employers to collaborate with faculty on curriculum to ensure that needed skills are included which expedites placement into AWS-affiliated companies. This is a game-changer for completers and has significant implications for achieving more equitable outcomes for all learners.

Partnering with the Faculty Senate resulted in an approved process for recognizing the first group of five (noncredit) industry credentials into CUNYfirst (Fully Integrated Resources and Services Tool). This milestone opens the door to future system-changing collaborations for students.

The QCC-led CUNY Community College Collaborative is focused on expanding micro-credentials across CUNY and is partnering with the Department of Labor to create a universal student identification number that will create a more unified learning system for students. This opportunity is in the developmental stage but holds great potential.

“Amazon Web Services has always had a close working relationship with Queensborough Community College, but our collaboration has moved to a new level recently as an entire team from our program now partners with subject matter experts at QCC to continuously update training for maximum relevance and to bridge the gap between talented learners and our huge employer network.”
Rebecca Allyn, Head of U.S. Education to Workforce Division, Amazon Web Services

 

The Education Design Lab thanks the following CUNY Queensborough Community College leaders for their commitment to innovation in the service of student success, equity, and completion: Dr. Hui-Yin Hsu, Lori Conkling, Michael Lawrence, Haiying Xiao, Hamid Namdar, Yuliia Pylypenko, and John Burke.

 
This article by Dr. Sara Lundquist is part of the Lab’s work helping community colleges innovate and transform through the micro-pathways design process. Learn more about the Community College Growth Engine here, download our Design Insights Brief, subscribe to our email newsletter for updates, and follow along on Twitter: #Micropathways.
news and events

How micro-pathways are transforming CUNY’s Kingsborough Community College

This is part of an ongoing Transformation Profile series spotlighting innovative partners in the Community College Growth Engine (CCGE) initiative at the Education Design Lab.
More profiles:  Queensborough Community College | LaGuardia Community College |  Borough of Manhattan Community College

CUNY background

The City University of New York (CUNY) is the nation’s largest urban public university, consisting of seven open-access community colleges, 11 senior colleges, and seven graduate and professional schools. The colleges are distributed across the city and serve 243,000 degree-seeking students and approximately 200,000 noncredit/continuing education students annually. Recent system and state policy developments are positioned to offer additional support and completion momentum to current and future CUNY students. Three years ago, CUNY’s Board of Trustees established a policy that requires all CUNY colleges to have an official user-friendly process for applying Credit for Prior Learning to college credit degrees and certificates. This policy is now active at all CUNY institutions. In addition, the state of New York expanded eligibility for the Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) to part-time students effective immediately, enabling at least 30,000 more learners to receive aid. The program requires matriculation into a college credit program of study, something which micro-pathways accelerate since all are designed with credits that apply to higher learning. Final regulations are being established that include resources available to non-citizens who reside in the state. In addition to policy partners, CUNY schools also benefit from a partnership with the New York Jobs CEO Council, that connects colleges to corporations throughout the New York metropolitan area to enrich training programs and expedite job placement for completers.

CUNY colleges that were part of the Community College Growth Engine’s first cohort include Kingsborough, Queensborough, Borough of Manhattan, and LaGuardia community colleges.

College background

Kingsborough Community College (KCC) was founded in 1964 and is the only public community college in Brooklyn, New York. The college is led by Dr. Claudia V. Schrader, who was appointed president in 2018. KCC offers over 50 programs for its nearly 8,500 degree-seeking students and hundreds of career-focused courses for its 9,800 continuing education students annually. The college serves an extremely diverse group of learners who are 37% Black, 29% White, 18% Hispanic, and 15% Asian. Bucking declining national enrollment trends, the Division of Workforce Development and Continuing Education has increased enrollment by over 2,000 students since 2018 and has substantially diversified course offerings to include on-site, hybrid, and fully online learning options.

What is a micro-pathway?

Co-designed with learners and employers, micro-pathways are defined as two or more stackable credentials, including a 21st century skill micro-credential, that are flexibly delivered to be achieved within less than a year and result in a job at or above the local median wage, and start learner-earners on the path to an associate degree.

CUNY Kingsborough Community College’s User Experience (UX) Designer Certificate leads to a career as a User Experience (UX) Designer. Download the PDF.

College micro-pathway website: https://cewdkbcc.com/ux-microcredential/

 

 

Transformation highlights

The Education Design Lab’s micro-pathway design process offered KCC a template for updating existing training programs and developing new ones. College leaders have adopted the CCGE design criteria (pictured above) and now use it across the division to facilitate program updates and standardize the workforce-centered program priorities. The Emergency Medical Technician program is an example of a new offering that is using the Lab’s design tools to train students for careers across the allied health field where knowledge of critical procedures is a prerequisite to providing patient care.

The Lab’s T-Profile tool has facilitated deep and continuous dialogue with employer partners to ensure the curriculum provides learners with the set of skills that are most relevant in specialized workplaces. The strong relationships KCC developed with employers before joining CCGE was taken to a new level as they used the T-Profile to reaffirm the most critical technical and 21st century skills the jobs require. Having a structured framework for engagement made it easy to maintain continuous communication with employers, enriching everything from the course curriculum to opportunities for work-based learning to off-ramps students could use to secure employment upon completion.

Co-developing pathways with employers has created a fresh synergy around workforce programs, energizing both faculty and employers. This work has included designing accelerated pathways for learners who are already in fields such as healthcare, allowing them to apply what they already know and complete micro-pathway certifications in half the time of incoming students new to the discipline.

KCC micro-pathways bridge the noncredit/credit divide by including units that completers can automatically apply to higher certifications in college credit programs. This is a strategic priority for both the college and CUNY. The micro-pathways are all designed as stackable training programs that simultaneously lead to higher learning opportunities and professional advancement. This adds momentum to student progress and increases the value proposition to students as they see all learning will count toward valuable credentials.

Micro-pathways will be featured as an example of instructional innovation as the college begins a self-evaluation process leading to the reaffirmation of accreditation through the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. Designing and activating training programs that are workforce relevant, equity-centered, and highly accessible to traditional and new majority learners is a goal of the college that has been achieved through micro-pathways and other accelerated programs. Through the activation of these model programs and documentation of the results achieved by students, KCC can demonstrate its power to catalyze economic mobility for students and its institutional effectiveness.

Obstacles + opportunities

Co-create from the beginning: It’s important to articulate the roles that partners have in the micro-pathway development process and to engage the strengths of employers, funders, community-based organizations, as well as college and university leaders. This will be accomplished by proactively engaging partners and stakeholders to drive program design rather than asking them to approve of an already developed program.

Funding for faculty stipends should be deployed as early as possible so noncredit/credit faculty teams can be involved in the design process from the beginning.

Inclusion in the strategic plan: By spotlighting the contributions of micro-pathways in the college’s strategic plan, KCC highlights their value as a distinctive accelerated training opportunity for students as well as an on-ramp to credit programs.

 

“Our expanding partnerships with discipline experts in Academic Affairs and regional employers have allowed us to adapt the Lab’s design process to co-create high-demand training programs leading to jobs that offer career advancement and a living wage for our talented students.”

Dr. Simone Rodriguez, Vice President, Workforce Development, Continuing Education and Strategic Partnerships, Kingsborough Community College

 

The Education Design Lab thanks the following leaders at Kingsborough Community College for their commitment to innovation, student completion, success, and equity: Dr. Simone Rodriguez, Christine Zagari, Alissa Levine, and Jessica Cinelli.

This article by Dr. Sara Lundquist is part of the Lab’s work helping community colleges innovate and transform through the micro-pathways design process. Learn more about the Community College Growth Engine here, download our Design Insights Brief, subscribe to our email newsletter for updates, and follow along on Twitter: #Micropathways.
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Education Design Lab and consortium of Colorado community colleges awarded $4.9 million DOL grant for micro-pathways project

‘Year to Career Through Micro-pathways’ will grow accelerated career pathways in healthcare and IT sectors

WASHINGTON, D.C. (March 8, 2023) — Education Design Lab, a national nonprofit that designs new learning models for higher education and the future of work, today announced its project with a consortium of Colorado community colleges has been awarded more than $4.9 million by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL).

The Lab’s micro-pathways are central to the grant project, “Year to Career Through Micro-pathways” (Year to Career), which will design accelerated, stackable credentials that align with labor market needs across Colorado.

Why it matters

Community colleges are in a unique position to improve social mobility and reduce economic disparities. The future demands a system of higher education that is more flexible, affordable, and inclusive for new majority learner-earners. Year to Career will center the design efforts on historically excluded populations, increase workforce equity, and strengthen economic efficiency. Instead of taking two or more years to earn a degree, learners will take accelerated micro-pathways that will place them directly into the workforce with industry-recognized skills and credentials.

Over the last three years, the Lab’s Community College Growth Engine (CCGE) has supported nearly 25 colleges to design over 50 micro-pathways to connect low-wage and entry-level workers to in-demand jobs that pay at-or-above median wage and put them on a path toward a degree.

Year to Career, a consortium comprising Arapahoe Community College (ACC), Community College of Denver (CCD), Pueblo Community College (PCC) and the Lab will create six micro-pathways in the healthcare and IT sectors. This newly formed partnership will build upon the strong foundation of existing collaboration between the Lab and the Colorado Community College System (CCCS) to expand occupational pathways in the industries that are vital for Colorado’s economy. Its primary population of focus will be learners of color, and those identifying as ethnically Hispanic or Latinx, the largest underserved population in Colorado.

“We are excited to continue our partnership with the Education Design Lab and build out additional micro-pathways in healthcare and information technology at several of our colleges,” said Joe Garcia, Chancellor of the Colorado Community College System. “This model will help us better meet the needs of today’s learners and foster a skilled workforce for these two critical industries.”

“ACC is thrilled to partner with CCD, PCC, and the Lab to co-create innovative micro-pathways into healthcare and IT,” said Dr. Eric Dunker, ACC Vice President for Workforce and Economic Development, in ACC’s news release about the award. “Year to Career will address our region’s largest talent shortages and provide more economic mobility for our students.”

Bill Hughes, President + CEO of Education Design Lab: “The SCC3 grant has enabled the Lab to bring together an innovative, regional cohort of institutions focused on unlocking opportunity for learners and strengthening talent pipelines for employers and industries in need of skilled workers. We are delighted to enable this important consortium serving needs across Colorado.”

Grant details

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) awarded Arapahoe Community College (ACC) $4,989,434 in the third round of the Strengthening Community Colleges Training Grants Program (SCC3). In addition to ACC and the Lab, the other consortium partners include Community College of Denver (CCD) and Pueblo Community College (PCC). The SCC3 program is a commitment to investing in education programs that connect people to quality jobs while creating a more inclusive and equitable workforce. In the SCC3’s third round (February 2023), the DOL awarded $50 million to a total of 15 community colleges across 14 states to expand access to education and training.

Year to Career Through Micro-pathways will provide scalable, stackable credentialing in the career pathways of Health Information Technology, Behavioral Healthcare, Emergency Healthcare, Allied Health, IT Support, Cybersecurity, Cloud Computing, and Data Analytics.

What are micro-pathways?

Co-designed with learners and employers, micro-pathways are defined as two or more stackable credentials, including a 21st century skill micro-credential, that are flexibly delivered to be achieved within less than a year and result in a job at or above the local median wage, and start (l)earners on the path to an associate degree.

Go deeper

Learn more about the Community College Growth Engine here, and download our Design Insights Brief, which features learnings from our first cohort.

About Education Design Lab: The Lab is a national nonprofit that co-designs, tests, and builds new education-to-workforce models where skills matter. The Lab’s human-centered design process focuses on understanding learner experiences, addressing equity gaps in higher education, and connecting new majority learners to economic mobility. The Community College Growth Engine, led by Dr. Lisa Larson, is a design accelerator set up just before the pandemic to help community colleges lean into a future role as regional talent agents. Learn more: www.eddesignlab.org.

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Education Design Lab’s micro-pathways initiative welcomes largest cohort of community colleges yet

40+ colleges are transforming through the learner-centered design process

WASHINGTON, D.C. (JANUARY 26, 2023) — Education Design Lab, a national nonprofit that designs, implements, and scales new learning models for higher education and the future of work, today announced the third cohort of colleges participating in the nationally recognized Community College Growth Engine Fund (CCGEF, or the Fund) initiative that designs micro-pathways, a new class of credentials.

Why it matters

Community colleges are in a unique position to improve social mobility and reduce economic disparities. The future demands a system of higher education that is more flexible, affordable, and inclusive for new majority learner-earners. Over the last three years, the Fund has supported nearly 25 colleges to design over 50 micro-pathways to connect low-wage and entry-level workers to in-demand jobs that pay at-or-above median wage and put them on a path toward a degree.

The third cohort — the largest to date — is starting with 18 colleges in February 2023 and will likely grow to over 30 institutions by late spring. The new cohort includes three state systems/districts of community colleges, which will help sustain innovations through system-level transformation.

Meet Cohort III

The latest community colleges to join the Fund include:

SUNY (State University of New York system)

  • Ulster
  • Westchester
  • Dutchess
  • Orange
  • Rockland
  • Sullivan

Alamo Colleges District

  • Northeast Lakeview College
  • Northwest Vista College
  • Palo Alto College
  • St. Philip’s College
  • San Antonio College

Minnesota

  • Alexandria Technical and Community College
  • Central Lakes College
  • Hennepin Technical College
  • Saint Paul College

Northern Virginia Community College

Community College of Rhode Island

College of Eastern Idaho

 

 

SUNY Chancellor John B. King, Jr.: “As we continue to address the needs of the workforce of today and tomorrow, community colleges are at the forefront of that conversation. SUNY’s 30 community colleges open the doors for post-secondary education by offering certificate programs and associate degrees, as well as transfer and career services. Education must be affordable and inclusive because it provides an opportunity for social mobility and a chance at breaking down barriers for those who have been historically marginalized. To that end, these schools are beacons lighting the way for students who may otherwise have thought college not to be attainable. SUNY’s community colleges are poised to increase student success by offering courses and credentials which directly translate to the needs of employers from all different backgrounds, including technical and vocational fields. I thank SUNY Ulster, Westchester, Dutchess, Orange, Rockland, and Sullivan community colleges for being a part of the third cohort in the nationally recognized Community College Growth Engine Fund.”

 

Bill Hughes, President + CEO of Education Design Lab: “The world of work has never before put such an onus on skills as exist today. Learners and earners need to show evidence of skills to be eligible for advancement in their career journeys. Employers need workers whose skills align with their talent requirements. The traditional degree alone does not solve for either of these, as it may be too time-intensive or expensive, and it may not align with the fast-changing needs of the labor market. The response to these challenges must be a shift to open up more affordable, accessible, job-aligned routes to employment opportunities. The work of the Community College Growth Engine Fund does that, and the Lab is excited to launch its next and largest cohort.”

 

Dr. Lisa Larson, Head of the Community College Growth Engine Fund: “Learner attitudes about school and work are shifting, employers are at the table looking for new solutions, and community colleges are on the brink of change. There has never been a more pressing moment to figure out what the next generation of community colleges are and, importantly, how to get there. So far, we’ve seen firsthand how the Fund’s micro-pathway model and design process can serve as a gateway to community college transformation.”

 

What are micro-pathways?

Co-designed with learners and employers, micro-pathways are defined as two or more stackable credentials, including a 21st century skill micro-credential, that are flexibly delivered to be achieved within less than a year and result in a job at or above the local median wage, and start (l)earners on the path to an associate degree.

By the numbers
  • 41 community colleges as of February 2023 and counting
  • 30 micro-pathways launched
  • 20 micro-pathways in design
  • 5+ high-growth industry sectors including healthcare, information technology, construction, manufacturing, and business
  • 150+ employers engaged
  • 4,000 (l)earners impacted
What’s next

Through this initiative, colleges are realizing micro-pathways are a gateway to further innovation and transformation. In recognition of this, the Lab has created the Transformation Network for the Fund’s Cohort 1 colleges to continue to expand and scale their micro-pathway work and focus on ensuring the visibility and portability of these new credentials.

Our funders

We want to thank the Charles Koch Foundation, Walmart.org, and the Walton Family Foundation for their early investment as well as the Arizona Community Foundation, Jeffrey H. and Shari L. Aronson Family Foundation, Ascendium Education Group, Autodesk, The Beacon Foundation, Bloomberg Philanthropies, Carnegie Corporation of New York, Citizens, deLaski Family Foundation, Garcia Foundation, Patrick J. McGovern Foundation, the Carroll and Milton Petrie Foundation, Robin Hood Foundation, and the ZOMA Foundation.

Go deeper

Learn more about the Community College Growth Engine Fund here, and download our January 2022 Design Insights Brief, which features learnings from our first cohort.

 

About Education Design Lab: The Lab is a national nonprofit that co-designs, prototypes, and tests education-to-workforce models through a human-centered design process focused on understanding learners’ experiences, addressing equity gaps in higher education, and connecting new majority learners to economic mobility. The Community College Growth Engine Fund, led by Dr. Lisa Larson, is a design accelerator set up just before the pandemic to help community colleges lean into a future role as regional talent agents. Learn more: www.eddesignlab.org.

Join the Lab’s #InnovatorNetwork: LinkedIn + Twitter + email newsletter

news and events

Community College Daily: Fast-track learning

Pima Community College’s micro-pathways are featured in this January 2023 excerpt from Community College Journal, the bimonthly magazine of the American Association of Community Colleges.

news and events

Education Design Lab partners with OneTen to drive economic prosperity for Black talent in the United States

Education Design Lab forms strategic partnership with nation’s leading coalition committed to hiring and advancing Black Americans without four-year degrees

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Dec. 5, 2022) — Education Design Lab (the Lab), a national nonprofit helping colleges and employers design equity-based education solutions, today announced it has joined forces with OneTen, a coalition designed to close the opportunity gap for Black talent in the United States by working with America’s leading executives, companies and talent developers to hire and advance one million Black Americans without four-year degrees into family-sustaining roles within ten years. The Lab typically engages community colleges first and identifies the right mix of employers to engage. With OneTen, the Lab is starting the process by identifying employers first and matching them with appropriate community college partners.

As an endorsed OneTen talent developer, the Lab joins a growing portfolio of leading educators, upskillers and career training providers committed to providing in-demand skills for sought-after jobs at the country’s top employers. The Lab’s long-term goal is to create a replicable process that enables OneTen employers around the nation to build sustainable talent pipelines for Black (l)earners — learners and earners — with the community colleges in their region. Specifically, the partnership will use micro-pathways, an approach launched by the Lab’s Community College Growth Engine Fund (CCGEF).

Co-designed with (l)earners and employers, micro-pathways are defined as two or more stackable credentials (including at least one 21st century skill micro-credential) that can be completed in one year or less, resulting in a job at or above the local median wage, and start (l)earners on the path to an associate degree. By having employers committed to the co-design process at the start, colleges can respond more quickly to in-demand jobs. The three-year project will begin with CCGEF colleges located in four key markets:

  • Indianapolis, IN (Ivy Tech Community College )
  • New York, NY (City University of New York)
  • Philadelphia, PA (Community College of Philadelphia)
  • Washington, DC (Prince George’s Community College)

Micro-pathways offered in those regions are designed to lead to family-sustaining careers in information technology, healthcare, and manufacturing. Explore micro-pathways by industry sector here.

“The Lab is excited to partner with OneTen as part of our ongoing efforts to design education toward the future of work,” said Lisa Larson, Head of the Community College Growth Engine Fund. “This partnership will highlight the Lab’s leadership in skills-based education and hiring and support OneTen in reaching their goal of closing the opportunity gap for Black talent. Community colleges are best positioned to support OneTen and the Lab in this crucial mission.”

This partnership is more important than ever as the racial wealth gap in America remains vast, largely due to the lack of access to quality, well-paying jobs that do not require college degrees: 79% of jobs paying more than $50,000 require a four-year college degree, which automatically excludes the 76% of Black talent over age 25 with relevant experience who don’t have baccalaureate degrees. In an economy where Black people only own 1.5% of America’s wealth, harnessing multi-stakeholder partnerships is vital to spearheading diversity and fostering pathways to earned success.

“In today’s dynamic hiring environment, we recognize that it is absolutely essential to meet Black talent where they are in order to create equitable pathways to success,” said Maurice Jones, CEO of OneTen. “We’re thrilled to partner with the Lab to continue their work building strong talent pipelines from community colleges into some of the country’s top employers.”

The Lab and OneTen plan to empower and support the need for a diverse workforce through placement of Black talent into jobs that companies sorely need. By addressing unmet business needs, helping candidates find fulfilling employment and allowing more individuals to transition into careers with family-sustaining wages, inclusive work culture is within reach.

About Education Design Lab
The Education Design Lab (the Lab for short) is a national, nonprofit innovation engine that co-designs, validates, and scales education-to-workforce models through a human-centered design process focused on understanding learner experiences, addressing equity gaps in higher education, and accelerating economic mobility for new majority learners. Learn more about the Community College Growth Engine Fund here, and download: Design Insights Brief: Community College Growth Engine Fund Micro-pathways: A Gateway to Community College Transformation. Join the Lab’s #InnovatorNetwork: LinkedIn + email newsletter

About OneTen
OneTen is a coalition of leading chief executives and their companies who are coming together to upskill, hire and promote one million Black individuals who do not yet have a four-year degree into family-sustaining jobs with opportunities for advancement over the next 10 years. OneTen connects employers with talent developers including leading nonprofits and other skill-credentialing organizations who support development of diverse talent. By creating more equitable and inclusive workforces, we believe we can reach our full potential as a nation of united citizens. OneTen recognizes the unique potential in everyone – every individual, every business, every community – to change the arc of America’s story with Black talent. Join us at OneTen.org, where one can be the difference.

news and events

How micro-pathways are transforming Pima Community College

Quote by Pima Community College Chancellor Lee Lambert

This is the first story in the Lab’s Transformation Profile series spotlighting innovative partners in our Community College Growth Engine Fund. 

Background

Pima Community College (PCC) is located in Tucson, Ariz., and serves Pima County with a population of just over 1 million, the second most populous county in Arizona. The college enrolls over 15,000 learners and is a Minority-serving institution (MSI), with nearly 50% of their learners identified as LatinX. The Education Design Lab’s Community College Growth Engine Fund (CCGEF) is part of the college’s recovery and reskilling efforts to assist adult learners gain the skills they need to get back to work and to help those disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Pima designed eight micro-pathways through the CCGEF in 2020-21, prompting PCC Chancellor Lee Lambert and Lab Founder + Board Chair Kathleen deLaski to co-author this November 2021 op-ed in AACC’s Community College Daily: Have we found the gateway to transform community colleges?

 

What is a micro-pathway?

Co-designed with learners and employers, micro-pathways are two or more stackable credentials, including a 21st century skill micro-credential, that are flexibly delivered to be achieved within less than a year and result in a job at or above the local median wage.

Explore all eight of Pima Community College’s micro-pathways in a gallery at the bottom of this post.

 

The foundation of PCC’s transformation is what Chancellor Lambert calls the “two curves of community colleges.” The premise is that community colleges are transitioning from an industrial curve to a digital curve. The industrial curve is the current status quo defined by structured certificate and degree programs, fall/spring/summer semesters, and where the Carnegie Unit (credit hour) is the driver of learner readiness and educational attainment. All of the processes are built around the credit hour, including faculty time, student financial aid, and accreditation. There has been some transformation at community colleges, but it has been limited by the current system. For example, six- week sessions. This system shows favoritism toward those who can drop everything and go to college and does not address the needs of new majority learners.

The digital economy is the second curve. It is not stable, it is unpredictable, and it offers a lot of opportunity, but it also comes with risks. It is learner-centric. The complex lives of new majority learners don’t revolve around the time-bound structures of the credit hour. As a society, we are in the “transition” stage. Our economy is moving toward the digital economy and skills-based hiring, but we are not there yet.

“We’ve had a decade or more of declining enrollments. Our relevancy is in question. We need to get to know that our first curve model is not going to get it done.”

Chancellor Lee Lambert, Pima Community College

 

Community colleges will need to adapt to continue to be relevant since the first curve is not going to meet the needs of new majority learners.

Transformation highlights

+ Over 4,000 learners are interested in Pima’s micro-pathways. PCC’s micro-pathways target adult learners and are called PimaFastTrack. The college invested marketing dollars to launch a stand-alone landing page for PimaFastTrack as well as program-focused landing pages in both Spanish and English. The messaging centers on priorities relevant to adult learners: Financial assistance, support, speed, all-inclusive pricing, and simplicity. In addition, PCC outsourced speciality expertise to build an online presence around the value proposition for the eight micro-pathways. This has led over 4,000 learners to complete online interest forms, which exceeds, by far, anything the college has ever seen.

+ Designed for “universal access” to be more inclusive to adult learners. Adult learners may experience barriers with starting their education journey on the credit side of a college. Pima has combated these barriers by offering the micro-pathways as noncredit options. Once learners complete their micro-pathway, they can choose to enroll in a certificate or degree program at that point or at any point in the future. In line with Universal Access, learners also have entry points to the college through dual enrollment (enrollment in high school and the community college simultaneously) or direct enrollment (after graduating high school).

+ Instituted a “universal design” approach to their PimaFastTrack program. The Center for Excellence in Universal Design defines universal design as “the design and composition of an environment so that it can be accessed, understood, and used to the greatest extent possible by all people.” For PCC in the context of PimaFastTrack, designing universally means designing with an intentional focus on the needs of adult learners so they can succeed in their goals. PCC delivers micro-pathways through online, in-person, and hybrid formats simultaneously, making them available to learners in the format that works best for the learner.

 

+ PCC uses Standards of Practice for program development where academic and workforce are aligned using CCGEF’s design criteria. PCC is using the Lab’s micro-pathways design criteria as the foundation for their Standards of Practice for scaling PimaFastTrack across the college. For each of the eight design criteria, they’ve included “design in action” detailing how to address the design criteria, including the steps, tools, and examples from the work they did with the CCGEF. They also lay out the structure and roles for deans, department heads, the workforce team, and contributing team members. The workforce function at the college drives the idea, but the instructional departments carry out the design and development process. The Standards of Practice provide a holistic approach and structure to scale micro-pathways. The inclusion of learner and industry feedback ensures PCC is getting multiple perspectives before finalizing any design. They even include a Design Checklist similar to what the CCGEF design teams used to validate the design criteria prior to launching their micro-pathways.

+ Leadership changes reflect the focus on learners, micro-pathways, and innovation. As shared by Dr. Ian Roark, Vice Chancellor of Workforce Development + Innovation, “We intentionally did a robust pilot vs. a small one for the Community College Growth Engine Fund. It had enough boldness to give us the traction we wanted. We paired that with the vision and expectation starting from the top, which enabled us to deliver and to begin transformation across the college. We framed the decision with our faculty and deans that we have confidence in you – we know you can get this done – and that our learners need this. We have set a tone that we treat learners with dignity and respect, and that we serve all of them in the same way.” This demonstrates the colleges’ commitment to their learners, micro-pathways, and innovation.

Obstacles to overcome

The transformation demonstrated by PCC in only two year’s time is truly remarkable. However, as they will share, there is still work to be done. Two of the biggest obstacles to overcome are around integrating 21st century skills, including badging these micro-credentials, and developing Comprehensive Learner Record (CLR) capabilities. They are still at least six months to one year before these two capabilities will be in place.

“We’ve done things like improve PLA, invest in a registration system for noncredit, which was great, but CCGEF has been a way to bring all of that together and give it a name: Micro-pathways, which we are calling Pima FastTrack. It gave us a cause and a purpose. Working with the Lab provided us with a way to become part of something bigger than Pima – a greater sense of purpose.

Amanda Abens, MC, Dean of Workforce Development and Continuing Education

 

This article by Valerie Taylor is part of the Lab’s work helping community colleges innovate and transform through the micro-pathways design process. Learn more about the Community College Growth Engine Fund here, download our January 2022 Design Insights Brief, subscribe to our email newsletter for updates, and follow along on Twitter: #Micropathways.

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Education Design Lab’s micro-pathways honored in Fast Company’s 2022 Innovation by Design Awards

Celebrating more than a decade of Innovation by Design, the 2022 honorees include nearly 600 projects, products, and services from Nike, Verizon, Microsoft, and others.

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Sept. 15, 2022) — The Education Design Lab’s micro-pathways initiative – through the Community College Growth Engine Fund – has won an honorable mention in the Learning category of Fast Company’s Innovation by Design Awards for 2022. 

The Innovation by Design Awards, which can be found in the October 2022 issue of Fast Company, honor the designers and businesses solving the most crucial problems of today and anticipating the pressing issues of tomorrow. The competition, now in its 11th year, features a range of blue-chip companies, emerging startups, and hungry young talents. It is one of the most sought-after design awards in the industry.

The Lab’s Community College Growth Engine Fund (CCGEF, or the Fund for short) helps community colleges accelerate the economic mobility of new majority learners through micro-pathways.

Co-designed with (l)earners and employers, micro-pathways are defined as two or more stackable credentials (including at least one 21st century skill micro-credential) that can be completed in one year or less, resulting in a job at or above the local median wage, and start (l)earners on the path to an associate degree.

“We are honored that the Fund’s micro-pathways design work with community colleges is an honorable mention in Fast Company’s 2022 Innovation by Design Awards,” said Lisa Larson, Head of the Community College Growth Engine Fund. “The Fund’s community college partners are experiencing extraordinary impact in designing education for the future of work while meeting new majority learner needs in obtaining critical credentials leading to great jobs.”

“A common theme among this year’s Innovation by Design honorees, which range from healthcare interfaces to autonomous driving technology, is permanence,” said Brendan Vaughan, editor-in-chief of Fast Company. “The products that leaped out to our editors and judges went against our quick-fix consumer culture, while also manifesting a more inclusive vision of design.”

Honorees for the 2022 awards were selected in the following categories: Accessible Design; Apps and Games; Automotive; Branding; Circular Design; Data Design; Design Company of the Year; Enterprise; Experience Design; Experimental; Fashion and Beauty; Finance; General Excellence; Graphic Design; Health; Home; Hospitality; Impact; Learning; Marketing; Materials; Packaging; Pandemic Response; Products; Rapid Response; Retail; Social Justice; Spaces and Places; Sports and Recreation; Students; Sustainability; Transportation; Urban Design; User Experience; Wellness; Workplace; Best Design Asia-Pacific; Best Design Europe, Middle East, and Africa; Best Design Latin America; Best Design North America; Years in Business (On the Rise: 0–4 Years, Established Excellence: 5–19 Years, Enduring Impact: 20+ Years); and Size of Business (Small Business: Fewer Than 100 Employees, Midsize Business: 100–999 Employees, Large Business: 1,000+ Employees).

The judges include renowned designers from a variety of disciplines, business leaders from some of the most innovative companies in the world, and Fast Company’s own writers and editors. Entries are judged on the key ingredients of innovation: functionality, originality, beauty, sustainability, user insight, cultural impact, and business impact.

Winners, finalists, and honorable mentions are featured online and in the October issue of Fast Company magazine, on newsstands Sept. 27, 2022.

To see the complete list, go to
https://www.fastcompany.com/innovation-by-design/list

About Education Design Lab
The Education Design Lab (the Lab) is a national nonprofit helping colleges and employers design more equitable career pathways. Learn more about the Community College Growth Engine Fund here, and download: Design Insights Brief: Community College Growth Engine Fund Micro-pathways: A Gateway to Community College Transformation.

About Fast Company
Fast Company is the only media brand fully dedicated to the vital intersection of business, innovation, and design, engaging the most influential leaders, companies, and thinkers on the future of business. Headquartered in New York City, Fast Company is published by Mansueto Ventures LLC, along with our sister publication Inc., and can be found online at www.fastcompany.com.