Rural Revival: BRIDGES Rural College Transformation Insights

This November 2023 Design Insights Brief spotlights the transformation that five rural community colleges experienced as they listened deeply and designed for learners in the furthest reaches of their service areas.

In 2020, as the world entered the COVID-19 pandemic, five rural colleges committed to a three-year project with the hope of building their capacity and extending their reach further into rural areas.

BRIDGES Rural — an acronym for Building Rural Innovation, Designing Educational Strategies (BRIDGES)— started with a question: How might we strengthen the capacity of rural community colleges to serve as critical economic growth engines for their learners and communities?

With the support of Ascendium Education Group, these institutions engaged in a human-centered design process with the Education Design Lab to design and pilot innovative pathways, community partnerships, and learner-focused support services.


This November 2023 design insights brief builds upon the learnings from the previous two publications (part one | part two) and paints a picture of what rural college transformation looks like when communities use an asset-based approach and embrace the principles of human-centered design.

The Lab hopes other rural institutions can take these insights and lessons learned and use them as a starting point to co-design with their own communities.

Download the full brief


Read the transformation insights by college:

Related Resources

BRIDGES Rural 2023 Institution Impact Showcase

The showcase featured insights from the two-year design process and next steps for BRIDGES Rural community colleges.