Achieving the Dream and Jobs for the Future, a national nonprofit that drives change in the American workforce and education systems to achieve equitable economic advancement, announced today the three state teams that have been selected to participate in the organizations’ joint initiative, Improving Economic Mobility for Adult Learners. The initiative aims to expand upon and enhance current policies and practices designed and implemented by states and institutions specifically to improve outcomes for community and technical college adult learners (age 21+) who have not yet attained a postsecondary credential.
The selected teams, each composed of a state-level higher education body and three community and technical colleges within the state, include the following:
Michigan Office of Sixty by 30
New Jersey Council of County Colleges
Virginia Community College System
- Central Virginia Community College
- Germanna Community College
- Tidewater Community College
All of the states and colleges in the initiative are currently involved in JFF and/or ATD networks. The three Michigan colleges as well as Atlantic Cape and Hudson County of New Jersey are part of ATD’s nationwide network of 300+ community colleges and, as such, are already deeply engaged in transforming their institutions to improve equitable outcomes for their students. Michigan, New Jersey, and Ohio are all part of JFF’s Student Success Center Network and are active participants with state community college systems around the country to establish policies and practices that build pathways to careers and further equitable economic mobility for students.
As part of the initiative, which runs through December of 2024, the selected teams will build on policies, student supports, and financial incentives already in place, with the goal of improving enrollment, completion, and labor market outcomes, especially among Black, Latinx, Indigenous, and economically marginalized adult learners.
“Current disruptions to our economy and an ever-widening education and income gap mean that it is more important than ever to turn our attention to meeting the needs of adult learners,” said Dr. Karen A. Stout, ATD president and CEO. “The approximately 90 million adults in this country who do not hold a postsecondary credential are disadvantaged in the labor market, and it is imperative that we transform policies and enhance institutional supports to make a postsecondary credential — and the economic advancement that comes with it — more attainable to them. I’m so pleased to be partnering with JFF on this initiative and am excited to see the transformations that our selected states and respective colleges make over the next year and a half with regard to their adult learner success outcomes.”
Marty Alvarado, vice president for postsecondary education and training at JFF, echoed Stout’s enthusiasm for the positive results expected from the initiative. “Michigan, New Jersey, and Virginia have all proposed compelling, evidence-based strategies for advancing equitable credential attainment and career outcomes for adult learners, and we look forward to helping them accelerate progress towards their goals,” she added.
The three selected teams will each receive $200,000 in funding; regular coaching by experts in both policy and student success; peer learning opportunities; and technical assistance. They will implement and scale a range of strategies to increase application to enrollment yields, improve retention, accelerate credit completion, and lower out-of-pocket costs. These strategies include streamlining and standardizing Credit for Prior Learning (CPL) policies and practices, embedding industry-recognized credentials in academic programs, improving non-credit to credit program articulation, expediting the approval of new credentials aligned with labor market demand, providing customized academic and career advising to support the intersectional needs of adult students (including a focus on Black women in health care fields), expanding the use of technology to track and evaluate student progress, developing a statewide CPL directory, and improving professional development for success coaches and advisors to include cultural competency and trauma-informed practices.
After moving through design, implementation, and evaluation phases of the initiative, the teams will participate in a dissemination phase, during which they will share their findings with the student success field at large.