news and events

Lee Lambert receives first Kathleen deLaski Innovator Award from Education Design Lab

Bill Hughes, Education Design Lab President + CEO (from left); Kathleen deLaski, Lab founder and board chair; and Lee Lambert, chancellor of Foothill-De Anza Community College District.

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Oct. 13, 2023) — Education Design Lab (the Lab), a national nonprofit, has given its inaugural Kathleen deLaski Innovator Award to Lee Lambert, longtime community college leader and current chancellor of Foothill-De Anza Community College District in Silicon Valley, Calif.

Lambert accepted his award during the Lab’s 10th Anniversary Celebration on Oct. 12 at Arena Stage in Washington, D.C.

The innovator award recognizes systemic disruptors who bring equity to the pursuit of opportunity and whose efforts show evidence of the shift toward skills-based, learn-and-earn models the Lab seeks to realize.

Lambert was selected because of his courage in elevating workforce development alongside degree programs while chancellor at Pima Community College (PCC) in Tucson, Ariz. Lambert served as PCC’s chancellor from 2013 until August 2023.

In his remarks after accepting the award, Lambert said he was most proud of “putting the human being at the center of our work” and thanked his design team at Pima, including Ian Roark, Vice Chancellor of Workforce Development & Innovation; Amanda Abens, Dean of Workforce Development & Continuing Education; Dolores Duran-Cerda, Interim Chancellor; and David Doré, who is now chancellor of Virginia’s Community Colleges.

The award is named in honor of Kathleen deLaski, Education Design Lab’s founder and current board chair.

“I’m so honored to be associated with one of my favorite transformation heroes in higher ed,” said deLaski. “Lee Lambert is one of the community college world’s most effective and optimistic visionaries. He sees the future and doesn’t let tradition keep him and his team from shaping programs that meet students and employers where they are.”

Pima was one of the Lab’s earliest pioneers of micro-pathways — stackable credentials that can be flexibly achieved within less than a year that put learners both on the path to an associate degree or to immediate employment in high-demand fields.

Under Lambert’s leadership, PCC joined the first cohort of the Lab’s Community College Growth Engine initiative, designing eight employer-aligned pathways in the middle of the Covid pandemic. The result is PimaFastTrack, designed for adult learners to learn industry-recognized skills in as little as three to six months.

As PCC launched their first micro-pathways, both Lambert and deLaski realized the design process can be a gateway to greater institutional and system transformation. That insight resulted in a powerful Community College Daily op-ed they co-authored in 2021, Have we found the gateway to transform community colleges?, which has helped the Lab grow the program from nine colleges and systems to over 50 across the country, including a statewide initiative in Montana.

During Lambert’s decade of leadership. Pima was named a Top 150 community college by the Aspen Institute, earned a prestigious Bellwether Award for developmental education programs, and was just named the best university/college employer in the state in Forbes’ annual list of Best Employers To Work For in Arizona, among other recognitions.

Lambert became chancellor of Foothill-De Anza Community College District in Los Altos Hills, Calif., in August 2023. Learn more about Lee Lambert.

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 higher education, and connecting learners to economic mobility. Learn more: www.eddesignlab.org.

news and events

USA TODAY: Some parts of rural America are changing fast. Can higher education keep up?

USA Today spotlights some of the Lab’s work in Montana and Idaho in this September 2023 story, which also features our rural partners at College of Eastern Idaho and the Lab’s Dr. Leslie Daugherty.

news and events

Montana launches first-of-its-kind, statewide micro-credential development initiative

The Montana University System partners with Education Design Lab to develop and scale skills-forward, short-term credentials in high-demand fields.

SEPT. 20, 2023 – HELENA, MT – Education Design Lab (the Lab), the Montana Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education (OCHE), and Montana’s public two-year colleges, today announced the launch of a new initiative to expand the college-to-career pipeline in Montana. Montana’s “Year to Career” Initiative will bring colleges, employers, learners, and local stakeholders together to collaboratively design skills-focused educational pathways to expand opportunities for Montanans and meet the state’s growing workforce needs.

“Student success, and Montana’s future, depends on innovation and fresh, new thinking to transform the way education is delivered,” Governor Greg Gianforte said. “With this new micro-credential initiative, Montana is paving the way toward greater educational and career opportunities, and a brighter future, for Montanans.”

Starting this month, 12 Montana colleges will undergo a two-year transformation to enhance their role as sustainable engines of economic growth and regional talent suppliers. With the support of the Lab, participating institutions will establish 12-20 “micro-pathways” – stackable credentials that can be flexibly achieved within less than a year – that will put learners both on the path to an associate degree or to immediate employment in high-demand fields, including information technology, allied health, construction, advanced manufacturing, and agriculture technology.

“As a regional leader in higher education, Montana is well-positioned to provide innovative options for students to achieve their goals,” said Clayton Christian, Montana Commissioner of Higher Education. “These fast-track credentials will complement the traditional degree programs at our colleges and will help students stand out in a competitive job climate while ensuring academic quality and value for employers throughout Montana.”

Despite unemployment hitting record lows in Montana, rural communities continue to struggle economically, and many low-income families lack the time and resources to invest in full-time education and training. Short-term credential pathways are high-quality, flexible, cost-effective options for educational attainment that lead both to immediate employment opportunities and continued degree progress.

“Over the past several years, the Lab has worked with colleges across the country to pioneer micro-pathways as a new way to meet the needs of the New Majority Learner, while also addressing critical workforce demands in regions from coast to coast,” said Bill Hughes, President and CEO, Education Design Lab. “Being able to work not just with the colleges, but also alongside innovative state leaders in Montana marks a major milestone in our ability to create greater economic opportunity for learners in an increasingly skills-based ecosystem. We look forward to seeing how this work can scale and inspire other states to rethink how they are creating pathways from college to career.”

This initiative is unique in that critical partners from across the state came together around the goal of designing, building, and implementing an education-to-workforce architecture that will have long term impacts and sustainability.

“As employers in a tight labor market, we need to change our thinking about finding ‘an’ employee to one of building a pipeline of future employees in Montana,” said Brian Obert, Executive Director of the Montana Business Assistance Connection, a key partner in the initiative.

Education Design Lab will provide the design framework for the Montana OCHE, the Montana University System’s (MUS) Two Year Council, and other partners identified below to design, implement, support, and leverage micro-pathways leading to liveable wage jobs. Each of the pathways will be established around high-growth industries, based on data and feedback from industry partners across the state. Further, industry leaders will be a part of the effort right from the start. The partners’ existing initiatives and efforts will align to create visible pathways along with resources and support for individuals across the state. Organizations involved in this initiative include:

  • Accelerate Montana, Rapid Retraining Program
  • Bitterroot College – UM
  • City College – MSUB
  • Dawson Community College
  • Flathead Valley Community College
  • Gallatin College – MSU
  • Great Falls College – MSU
  • Helena College – UM
  • Highlands College – Montana Tech
  • Miles Community College
  • Missoula College – UM
  • Montana Economic Development Administration (MEDA)
  • Montana Department of Labor and Industry
  • Montana Department of Commerce
  • The Montana Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education (OCHE)
  • Montana State University – Northern, College of Technical Sciences
  • Montana University System Two-Year Leadership Council
  • University of Montana – Western

Other key stakeholders invited to partner with this effort include tribal colleges, local economic development agencies, certified regional development centers, tribal economic development organizations, the Montana Chamber of Commerce, the Montana Hospital Association, the Montana High-Tech Business Alliance, and employers throughout the state.

The Montana Micro-Pathway Opportunity will also be unique in offering the first Design Fellows program. The program will provide postsecondary institution and system leaders, government (policy) advisors, economic development, or business leaders an opportunity to observe and learn from a state community college system-wide effort as they design and implement micro-pathways. With the support of the Lab’s designers and college partners, Fellows will design a micro-pathway implementation blueprint for their state.

Montana’s “Year to Career” Initiative builds upon the success of the “Montana Future at Work” initiative, funded by the Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation, Accelerate Montana’s rapid retraining workforce development campaign, and three current Lab programs including BRIDGES Rural, Data Collaborative, and the Community College Growth Engine (CCGE). Since the launch of CCGE, the Lab has worked with 53 community colleges and systems throughout the nation to design and pilot more than 100 employer-validated micro-pathways in six sectors and over 30 occupations that connect over 8,000 new majority learners to employment in careers at or above median wage.

Initial funding for this effort has been generously provided by the Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation, Walmart, the Charles Koch Foundation, and the Carnegie Foundation.

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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 higher education, and connecting learners to economic mobility. Learn more: www.eddesignlab.org.

About the Montana University System
The Montana University System (“MUS”) is the state’s system of public colleges and universities, which together serve more than 40,000 students statewide. Under the direction of the Montana Board of Regents, the Montana Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education (“OCHE”) provides strategic direction and coordinates the overall structure, function, and budget of Montana’s dynamic collection of post-secondary institutions. This includes leading public research and doctoral-level institutions and comprehensive 4-year and 2-year colleges and universities.

news and events

Work Shift op-ed: What’s in your (skills) wallet?

Skills look to be the currency of the future. Creating wallets to hold them will mean breaking down a “labyrinth of silos,” writes Dr. Naomi Boyer of Education Design Lab. Aug. 16, 2023.

news and events

WATCH: Lab expert joins Chronicle of Higher Education forum on Transcript of the Future

Dr. Naomi Boyer, the Lab’s Senior Vice President of Digital Transformation, joined a panel of experts for The Chronicle of Higher Education’s virtual forum, “The Transcript of the Future,” on Wednesday, Aug. 16, 2023.

Watch a recording of the forum.

Here’s how the Chronicle described the discussion:

Many university officials and employers agree: The traditional transcript leaves much to be desired. The current version with its list of abbreviated course titles, credit hours, and grades, isn’t serving students well in an era with a greater emphasis on competencies and soft skills.

To offer a holistic view of a student’s work, colleges have experimented with digital portfolios that provide insights that go beyond grades to include a student’s skills, extracurricular activities, and more. The “new transcript” can also give students greater access to, and control over, their records.

Where do these experiments stand now and where are they headed?

 

news and events

Meet our new Designers in Residence 2.0!

The Lab is excited to announce the second cohort of our Designers in Residence program!

Expanding on the work of our first Designers in Residence cohort and Accelerate ED, Cohort 2.0 will build regional ecosystems that support accelerated associate degree attainment for learners who are Black, Latino, or from low-income backgrounds.

Meet the Designers in Residence 2.0:

  • Paula Dibley, Chief Officer of Student Success & Strategic Innovation, Forsyth Technical Community College
  • Dr. Miguel Dueñas, Vice President of Student Services, East Los Angeles College 
  • Dr. Tamika Duplessis, Associate Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs, Delgado Community College
  • Dr. Anne Kress, President, Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA)
  • Dr. Matthew Morin, Assistant Dean of Intersegmental Partnerships, Chaffey College
  • Dr. Jackie C. Thomas, Jr., Chief Strategist/Interim Vice President for Student Success, Lone Star College-Tomball

 

 

Designers in Residence 2.0 will:

+ Receive a $75,000 grant award for their institution.

+ Learn equity- and human-centered design.

+ Be mentored by Designers in Residence Cohort 1 members who created the tools that will be used + tested by Cohort 2.

Timeline: 18 months — from June 2023 to November 2024.

Funder: The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

What’s next: Designers from both cohorts will attend a kick-off convening in Washington, D.C. (June 5-7), followed by monthly (virtual) design sessions.

 

Here’s the full press release:

 

Six Higher Ed Leaders Named to New Cohort Redesigning High School to Postsecondary Pathways 

Expanding on the work of the first Education Design Lab Designers in Residence cohort, Cohort 2.0 will build regional ecosystems that support accelerated associate degree attainment for students who are Black, Latino, or from low-income backgrounds.

WASHINGTON, DC May 18, 2023 — National nonprofit Education Design Lab today announced the selection of six higher education leaders to lead the second cohort of the Lab’s Designers in Residence program. Leveraging their diverse institutional backgrounds and years of collective expertise, this second cohort of Designers in Residence will champion the efforts of regional ecosystem teams to design and activate K12-to-Career accelerated guided pathways.

“The first Designers in Residence cohort made significant strides in identifying the transformations necessary for higher education systems to build a more equitable future for all learners,” said Bill Hughes, president and CEO of Education Design Lab. “We are excited to see how the second cohort builds on this work to co-create an actionable roadmap for institutions seeking to build and scale equitable, learner-centered pathways and partnerships that adapt to an evolving economy.”

Across the country, K-12 and postsecondary systems are struggling to meet the needs of learners – particularly Black, Latino, and learners from low-income backgrounds – yet, at the same time, earning a postsecondary credential of value has never been as important to unlocking long-term economic and social mobility. As learners navigate a rapidly evolving labor market and the residual barriers posed by the pandemic, more accessible pathways to degree attainment are essential to filling workforce gaps and championing student success. 

The second cohort will work collaboratively to further enhance “Associate-Degree-by-Grade-13” models that open new doors for learners, ensuring students in the designers’ respective states and regions have equitable access to complete a degree. These accelerated guided pathways will enable learners to earn enough college credit while in high school to complete an associate degree aligned with high-wage, high-growth careers by their 13th year of education.

The members of the Designers in Residence 2.0 cohort include:

  • Paula Dibley, Chief Officer of Student Success & Strategic Innovation, Forsyth Technical Community College
  • Dr. Miguel Dueñas, Vice President of Student Services, East Los Angeles College
  • Dr. Tamika Duplessis, Associate Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs, Delgado Community College
  • Dr. Anne Kress, President, Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA)
  • Dr. Matthew Morin, Assistant Dean of Intersegmental Partnerships, Chaffey College
  • Dr. Jackie C. Thomas, Jr.; Chief Strategist/Interim Vice President for Student Success, Lone Star College-Tomball

“Our team in Louisiana is continually pushing ourselves to cultivate innovative new opportunities to connect students to the educational pathways and holistic supports that will enable them to fulfill their educational purpose while also supporting community needs,” said Tamika Duplessis, Associate Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs, Delgado Community College. “I am delighted to be joining the team at Education Design Lab, the first Designers in Residence cohort, and our new group of designers to expand thinking nationally and find new ways to recenter learners at the heart of the student success conversation.”  

Each participant in Designer in Residence 2.0 will receive individualized technical assistance to support their work on campus and a grant for their home institution upon completion of the program. Over 18 months, Designers in Residence 2.0 will work alongside the Lab in shaping a national discourse, learn and train in the Lab’s learner- and employer-centered design process, iterate new strategies for their work, and lead the start of a lifelong network of leaders across the country seeking to reshape higher ed and the learn-to-work journey.

The Designers in Residence program builds off of the Lab’s extensive experience supporting and advising personnel at colleges and universities through ongoing initiatives such as the Community College Growth Engine, the Single Moms Success Design Challenge, and BRIDGES Rural initiative. This program was funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Learn more about the program here.

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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 higher education, and connecting learners to economic mobility. Learn more: www.eddesignlab.org.

news and events

EdSurge column: The power of micro-credentials

In his March 23, 2023, column, Mordecai I. Brownlee, president of the Community College of Aurora (Colorado), explains how micro-credentials co-designed with employers and the Education Design Lab are creating more affordable academic options.

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

Higher Ed Dive: Can higher education really be redesigned to connect learners and the workforce?

Bill Hughes, Education Design Lab’s CEO, talks about the nonprofit’s work in this October 2022 Q&A with Higher Ed Dive.

news and events

Hechinger Report: Rethinking community college supports for single moms

The Lab’s Single Moms Success Design Challenge was featured in this Sept. 16, 2022, story in The Hechinger Report.