Community College Growth Engine Fund

Leading the Nation and Their Regions in Creating “Rapid-Response Pathways” with Employers


The Fund will select six of the most forward-leaning community colleges and systems in the country to lead a demonstration of how community colleges can leverage innovation capacity, regional partnerships, and dynamic labor market data to identify and build sub-degree “micro-pathways” with designated credentials that employers validate. These micro-pathways will enable learners to earn at-or-above median wage salaries and stackable credit for degree attainment.

Participating systems and institutions will receive a startup award of $100,000 to launch their micro-pathways, along with hands-on support from the 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.

Together these institutions, with support from the Education Design Lab, will produce new pathway models, new credential signal power for industry groups to rally around, as well as learnings and insights to enable adoption, replication, and scale by other learning providers and regions.

The Cohort

The City University of New York

The City University of New York is the nation’s largest urban public university, a transformative engine of social mobility that is a critical component of the lifeblood of New York City. With support from the Fund, six CUNY campuses (LaGuardia Community College, Kingsborough Community College, Bronx Community College, Queensborough Community College, Guttman Community College, Borough of Manhattan Community College) will build collaborations between faculty and employers which focus on student growth and skill building at scale.

Ivy Tech Community College

Ivy Tech Community College serves communities across Indiana, providing world-class education and driving economic transformation. It is the state’s largest public postsecondary institution and the nation’s largest singly accredited statewide community college system, accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. It serves as the state’s engine of workforce development, offering high-value degree programs and training that are aligned with the needs of its communities, along with courses and programs that transfer to other colleges and universities in Indiana.

Prince George’s Community College

Prince George’s Community College serves nearly 35,000 students from more than 100 nations around the world. The College seeks to refine, expand, and advance the current pathways model with the help of the Fund to provide students an opportunity to earn industry certificates, digital badges, and other credentials that will benefit employers, underemployed staff, and incumbent workers.

Austin Community College District

Austin Community College District is a nationally recognized two-year college that serves more than 70,000 students annually. The college is the primary gateway to higher education and career and technical training in Central Texas and strives to be a catalyst for social equity, economic development, and personal enrichment. ACC’s mission is to ensure every member of our community has access to an affordable college education to earn a degree, learn a marketable skill, and advance their career.

Pima Community College

Founded in 1969, Pima Community College is one of the largest multi-campus community college districts in the U.S. PCC offers degrees and certificates in more than 140 transfer and occupational programs on five campuses and more than 100 teaching sites throughout Pima County. With support from the Fund, Pima Community College seeks to further develop competency based micro-credentials in three key program areas, Automated Industrial Technology, Building and Construction Trades, and Cyber Security.

Seattle Colleges

Seattle Colleges is a multi-college district that serves Seattle and its surrounding communities at three comprehensive college campuses and five specialty training centers. With support from the Fund, Seattle Colleges will build short, skills-based pathways that are available for adoption by colleges and universities in the region. This sets the stage for a regional training ecosystem where students can move seamlessly between educational opportunities and attain true upward mobility.

Our Partners

Research Collaborators

The Community College Growth Engine Fund will deliver:

  • New Education to Career Pathways at Scale: 18 new models to benefit an additional 5,000 learners annually at scale that can further can be shared with and scaled to 1,100+ community colleges
  • New Innovation Capacity: Six community colleges and systems will build lasting infrastructure for sustained change management
  • New Employer-plus Collaboratives that Connect In-Demand Jobs With Education: Six robust, regional collaboratives, to include stakeholders, such as K-12 districts, public agencies, CBOs, economic development leaders and local funders, will create seamless pathways to employment
  • Best Practices + Peer Learning: New employer-driven models, tools, and processes shared with a global community of practice
  • 21st Century Skills Integration: Increased capacity to integrate in-demand 21st Century skills into technical programs and certificates
  • Roadmap For Scale: Partners spanning every sector from policymakers to industry to social enterprises will be aggregated to proliferate and scale these pathways until they reach every learner and worker in our country




The Community College Growth Engine Fund is a catalytic investment in community colleges to position them as drivers between innovation and employment.

The Fund is being launched in response to the urgent need for community colleges to deliver skills-focused, market-driven education as regions mitigate the growing skills gap. The current COVID-19 crisis, the massive unemployment and displacement that has resulted, and the historic inequities in our labor market underscore the need for urgency to drive the learnings for how community colleges shorten the horizon to skill-based employment while putting learners on the path toward degree attainment. The Fund will create a roadmap for scale to reach every learner and worker in the country and give them a path to economic dignity.

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