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Education Design Lab receives transformational MacKenzie Scott investment

National nonprofit Education Design Lab will use the new funds to accelerate the transformation of the learn + work system, unlocking affordable and accessible pathways to career opportunities for New Majority Learners.

WASHINGTON, D.C.; April 3, 2024 — The Education Design Lab announced today that it has received a $6 million unrestricted grant from MacKenzie Scott’s Yield Giving Foundation. This contribution represents the single largest unrestricted grant received by the Lab to date and is a testament to its decade-long commitment to innovation, equity, access, and affordability at the intersection of learning and work.

Amid a tight labor market and a shifting perspective on traditional postsecondary degree programs, employers in both the public and private sector are increasingly valuing demonstrable skills over formal education qualifications, leading to the removal of degree requirements from job postings. In 2022, 29% of paid job listings on LinkedIn did not require a college degree as a requirement, a notable increase from 20% in 2019. Furthermore, 20 states and major employers such as Walmart, Google, and IBM have adopted a skills-based hiring approach. These trends highlight the importance of supporting learners and workers who are seeking more inclusive, flexible, and cost-effective alternatives, especially considering that nearly two-thirds of working-age adults do not hold a bachelor’s degree.

“On behalf of our community of partners who have supported and labored with us in this work for the past decade, the Lab is honored and grateful to receive this generous gift from MacKenzie Scott. This monumental contribution not only validates our longtime quest to reimagine postsecondary education with and for marginalized learners, but also propels us forward as we continue to shape the future of learning and work,” said Bill Hughes, President and CEO of Education Design Lab.

The funding from the Yield Giving Foundation provides essential seed capital that will enable the Lab to build and expand upon programs that address the needs of “New Majority Learners,” or the once-thought “nontraditional” students who are now the predominant demographic pursuing higher education – and for whom the traditional four-year degree path was not designed. New Majority Learners represent a diverse collection of backgrounds and face different barriers. They include people of color, veterans and active duty military personnel, low-income learners, formerly incarcerated individuals, single parents, and learners who can only attend college part-time. They have long been at the center of the Lab’s work and serve as the foundation for its education redesign efforts.

This funding will aid the Lab in undertaking its long-term strategy of enabling the shift to skills-based strategies for colleges, employers, and their talent ecosystems. It will help the Lab’s Community College Growth Engine (CCGE, or Growth Engine) expand its groundbreaking work in Montana into other states across the country. Since 2020, the Growth Engine has engaged with more than 60 community colleges and systems nationwide to develop over 100 employer-endorsed micro-pathways, which are stackable credentials that lead to gainful employment opportunities in a year or less. It will bolster flagship programs like BRIDGES Rural, XCredit, and Single Moms Success and enhance the capacity of community colleges to serve underrepresented learners and validate their skills and expertise gained outside of a traditional degree program.

“With ever-changing needs of learners and industry partners, it is critical that institutions stay nimble and innovate in the ways they are bridging education and the workforce – and for whom those opportunities are most needed,” said Mike Macklin, Associate Vice Chancellor for Workforce Partnerships and Development of the Colorado Community College System. “Education Design Lab’s forward-thinking approach not only enhances our ability to provide relevant learning experiences for our students, but connects those experiences to economic opportunities that improve the lives of our students and the communities they live in.”

Over the last decade, Education Design Lab has worked with over 1,200 institutions and organizations and more than 1,000 employers to design, implement, and scale innovative and equitable approaches to work-based learning. Learn more about the Lab’s impact by visiting


About Education Design Lab
The 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 postsecondary education, and connecting learners to economic mobility. Learn more:


Posted on PR Newswire on April 3, 2024

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