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Community Colleges in Six Major Workforce Hubs Selected for Ambitious New Credentialing Initiative

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 selection of six colleges and systems selected as the inaugural cohort of its Community College Growth Engine Fund.

  • Austin Community College District will up- and re-skill displaced workers as Certified Production Technicians (CPT) and Certified Medical Assistants (CMA) to support Central Texas’ fast-growing health care workforce; 
  • The City University of New York will prepare students for careers in community health and for IT roles New York metro area tech employers;
  • Ivy Tech Community College, the largest-singly accredited community college, will upskill students for roles in advanced manufacturing and IT;
  • Pima Community College will prepare workers for roles in robotics and building and construction jobs to meet demand from industrial, technology and defense employers in southern Arizona;
  • Prince George’s Community College will partner with technology and health care employers in the National Capital Region to create pathways to allied health, nursing and tech careers;
  • Seattle Colleges will help the underserved—especially homeless, unemployed, and formerly-incarcerated individuals— learn digital skills and entrepreneurship to transition into roles in the Puget Sound region’s creative, services and technology industries.

More than 29 million Americans are now collecting some type of unemployment benefit, while less than half of the 22 million jobs lost since March have been replaced. With support from funders including Walmart, DeLaski Family Foundation, Charles Koch Foundation and the Walton Family Foundation, the fund will invest 3 million to help U.S. community colleges collaborate with local employers to meet growing demand for short-term credentials and 21st century skills such as resilience, collaboration and problem-solving.

“With nearly one in five New Yorkers currently unemployed due to the economic upheaval caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, CUNY continues to expand on its historic mission as an engine of social mobility, equipping students with the market-ready skills that allow them to fill in-demand jobs,” said CUNY chancellor Félix V. Matos Rodríguez.Thanks to this grant from Education Design Lab, our community colleges will continue to create and implement educational credentials that will lead to the family-sustaining wages and employment opportunities that working New Yorkers deserve.”

Each system or college will receive an implementation grant of $100,000 along with extensive hands-on support from Education Design Lab to launch their micro-pathways that will prepare over 4,000 learners for stable employment in growing fields. Teams at each college or system will engage with employers and regional stakeholders, including K-12 school districts, to help low-wage and entry-level workers advance into roles that pay at least median wage.  

“The pandemic has brought a heightened sense of urgency to our historic mission of supporting social and economic mobility for the diverse students and working adults that community colleges serve,” said Lee D. Lambert, chancellor of Pima Community College. “Addressing this crisis requires us to develop new and more flexible credentials that are more responsive to the rapidly-changing needs of the labor market.”

Selected institutions will engage with a team of national experts assembled by the Lab and led by Chike Aguh, head of economic mobility pathways at Education Design Lab and project lead for the Fund. The cohort will draw on labor market research from the Federal Reserve Banks of Philadelphia and Cleveland to identify the most in-demand careers in their regions and design stackable credentials that lead to earnings at or above the median wage. The League for Innovation in the Community College will help convene and lead a community of practice of participating college presidents and employer partners. 

“Like the students they serve, community colleges are reinventing themselves in response to the triple crisis of a global pandemic, massive unemployment, and a national reckoning on race,” Aguh said. “This work is about community colleges supercharging local workforce development and our national economy. We will equip colleges and their regional partners with new tools, networks and capital to help workers up- and re-skill for jobs that the market needs and future demands.”

Additional partners and collaborators providing advice and expertise to the Lab’s multi-sector effort include: nonprofits Workcred and Opportunity@Work; industry workforce entities like the Manufacturing Institute; and the SkillUp Coalition.


Learn more about the Community College Growth Engine Fund here.
Read the full press release on PR Newswire here.

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