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 launch of the Community College Growth Engine Fund, to invest in U.S. community colleges as they meet growing consumer and employer demand for short-term credentials. With funding from national philanthropies and in partnership with the League for Innovation in the Community College, Education Design Lab will engage a national cohort of community colleges and systems, who will partner with employers and regional stakeholders to create new pathways to economic mobility and help low-wage and entry-level workers advance into roles that pay at least median wage.
“The pandemic has given rise to both a heightened sense of urgency, and an openness to innovation among institutions of higher education on the frontlines of our unemployment crisis,” said Kathleen deLaski, founder and CEO of Education Design Lab. “This fund will help supercharge the work of these forward-leaning community colleges—and their employer partners—as they design new ‘micro-pathways’ that are more agile and responsive to the needs of the labor market.”
Participating systems and institutions will receive a startup award of $100,000 to launch their micro-pathways, along with hands-on support from Education Design Lab. The cohort will draw upon real-time labor market data to identify the most in-demand careers in their regions and create “micro-pathways” that lead to earnings at or above the median wage. The League for Innovation in the Community College will help lead a community of practice of college presidents and employer partners, and the Federal Reserve Banks of Philadelphia and Cleveland will provide cutting-edge research into the labor market demand for specific skills and credentials.
“At a time when so many Americans are out of work or need to reskill, community colleges have an opportunity to be a key part of our workforce development solution,” said Jason A. Tyszko, Vice President, Center for Education and Workforce at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. “This work will help foster closer collaboration between community colleges and local labor markets by connecting low-income workers and others to in-demand skills and jobs.”
“Community colleges need to reinvent themselves as we move to a skills-based hiring ecosystem,” said Dr. Rufus Glasper, CEO of the League for Innovation in the Community College, which is one of the national partners for the project. “They have always demonstrated agility in responding to the needs of their region’s employers. This effort will test new models—and help to codify new best practices— for creating micro-pathways that best serve learners and employers.”
The fund will be led by future of work expert, past director of corporate strategy at Education Advisory Board (EAB) and former McChrystal Group senior principal, Chike Aguh, who recently joined the Education Design Lab as the head of economic mobility micro-pathways. He is the former CEO of EveryoneOn, a nonprofit working to expand access for low-income Americans to affordable internet, computers and digital skills training.
About Education Design Lab: Education Design Lab is a national nonprofit that designs, tests, and implements unique higher education models and credentials that address the rapidly changing economy and emerging technology opportunities. The Lab demonstrates where technology, rigor and design can improve opportunity for historically underserved learners to maximize their potential in the higher education system.
Education Design Lab works across disciplines and alongside schools, employers, entrepreneurs, government, foundations, nonprofits and innovators. The organization has significant experience managing national and local learning cohorts, working with organizations such as The Michael and Susan Dell Foundation, the United Negro College Fund, Walmart, American Council on Education and the ECMC Foundation. Learn more: www.eddesignlab.org/project/growthenginefund.