Rural College Design and Data Academy

By designing for and prioritizing the needs of the new majority rural learners, a cohort of 14 rural higher ed institutions across 11 states will catalyze broad transformations across the postsecondary education-to-workforce landscape.


The Rural College Design and Data Academy will provide a unique opportunity for 14 rural higher education institutions across 11 states to learn the Lab’s human-centered design process and apply those learnings in the design of prototypes and pilots that build upon the BRIDGES Rural design project. There will be a specific focus on the needs and capacities of rural communities as it relates to driving transformative practices. Additionally, there will be a focus on data structures, governance, processes, and enhanced data capacity for non-degree programs/alternative credentials. Each institution will receive a $50,000 incentive grant for pilot implementation and sustainability.
Through one of five Emerging Models of Interest, the institutions will design and deploy transformative opportunities that address rural learner and community needs.

Emerging Models of Interest

  • Earn + Learn Models
  • Micro-communities + Place-Based Marketing Strategies
  • Community Ecosystem Alignment
  • Rural Grow Your Own Pathways
  • Data Culture + Capacity

The BRIDGES Rural Impact Showcase

The July 2023 showcase highlighted each institution’s learnings throughout the two-year design process and the next steps as the BRIDGES project concludes.

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