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Prosperity for Ohio: Mapping Credentials to Success FAQ

1. What is the Prosperity for Ohio: Mapping Credentials to Success initiative?  

The Prosperity for Ohio initiative will strengthen the ability to track education to workforce outcomes among all community colleges in Ohio by linking state higher education data (HEI data from the Ohio Department of Higher Education) with state employment data (from the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services). The overall intent is to promote data-informed decision-making to enhance quality of educational programs and credentials. This includes stronger alignment with local labor market needs and strengthening workforce outcomes like employment, earnings, debt-to-earnings ratios, economic mobility, and return on higher education investment. The products resulting from this initiative are also intended to serve as a prototype for other states to promote cohesive integration of government education and employment data systems.  

2. Why is this initiative important? 

College completion is no longer the end goal for student success. It is paramount that we shift to workforce outcomes in the form of labor market value to guide quality improvement of educational programming and credentials. Why? Nationally, many are questioning the value of a college education. Student loan debt is rising1. Less than one in three associate degrees and less than one in four certificates awarded by community colleges have produced family sustaining wages and more importantly, have produced limited potential for increased earnings/upward mobility over time2. This is exacerbated by the fact that nearly one-quarter of all community college programs show graduates failing to earn enough to recoup their higher education investment within 20 years of earning a credential3.

Simply put, a college education is often expensive, and if college credentials do not yield quality employment and family sustaining wages, community colleges have only added to individual and family financial burden — an especially discouraging reality for the many students who come to community colleges already financially distressed. As the Community College Research Center (CCRC) concludes: “Community colleges must ensure that their programs are worth completing.” This work is paramount for individual and family stability and the economic competitiveness of our communities and our nation.  

The challenge is that postsecondary value cannot be strengthened without tracking workforce outcomes by college and academic programs. In many states, higher education data sources are not yet linked with employment data. This problem worsens when multi-state data systems are considered. This is particularly important when students seek employment out of state. While many community college graduates are place bound, many regional economies cut across state lines. The Ohio initiative promotes in-state data integration but is intended to serve as a model for other states and multi-state data sharing partnerships.  

3. Who is funding this initiative? 

This project is awarded by the Coleridge Initiative, a national nonprofit organization developed under the auspices of the Postsecondary Value Commission. The Coleridge Democratizing Our Data Challenge is funded by Ascendium Education Group. The Coleridge Initiative works with governments to ensure that data are more effectively used for public decision-making. They intentionally facilitate the development of collaborations within and across states to help link education data with workforce outcomes data. To this end, the Coleridge Initiative has established an Administrative Data Research Facility (ADRF) which is a secure, cloud-based repository for related agency data.  

4. Who are the partners in this initiative? 

Achieving the Dream Inc. (ATD) is serving as the convener and fiscal agent for this initiative. We initiated the partnership, given its unique alignment with our vision for change, which focuses squarely on the elimination of inequities in workforce outcomes. ATD sees community colleges as strong engines of economic and social mobility with a pivotal role to play in creating more economically vibrant communities. Both the Ohio Association of Community Colleges (OACC) and the National Student Clearinghouse (NSC) share this vision and are key partners in this work.  

Why OACC? ATD has had a strong working relationship with OACC for many years. At least eight community colleges in Ohio are part of the ATD Network, and many of these colleges have reached Leader College and Leader College of Distinction status within the Network. Additionally, eligibility criteria for Coleridge funding requires collaboration with at least one state that already has, or will soon have, data in the Coleridge ADRF. Through The Ohio State University, both HEI and ODJFS data have already been incorporated into the ADRF. This made Ohio an eligible state from the onset of this work. 

Why NSC? The National Student Clearinghouse houses the Postsecondary Data Partnership (PDP), which provides college level data in the form of interactive dashboards in areas of importance to student success, such as access, early momentum metrics, retention, completion, transfer, etc. Through the PDP, NSC would like to add workforce outcomes dashboards to the existing portfolio of data resources available to colleges nationally. However, the availability/linking of government data sources varies dramatically by state, making this work particularly challenging. The Prosperity for Ohio initiative will serve as a prototype and hopefully encourage other states to strive for similar matching of postsecondary data with employment data in an effort to improve overall program health and relevancy as it relates to economic and social advancements for individuals, families, and communities.  

5. What products will be produced by this initiative?  

A prototype of a new institutional and system-level dashboard on education to workforce outcomes will be developed using data from two pilot Ohio institutions: Lorain County Community College and Marion Technical College. However, all community college stakeholders will have the opportunity to inform the development and design of the interactive dashboards. OACC is seeking additional funding to support the development of dashboards for all Ohio colleges and will keep institutions informed accordingly.  

Why Lorain County Community College and Marion Technical College? Prototype development is challenging without real institutional data. OACC identified these two distinctive institutions to serve as a test bed for dashboard prototyping.  

6. How will all community colleges be involved?  

All Ohio community college stakeholders will be invited to attend discussions that are intentionally designed to inform the functionality of the prototype dashboards. Participation beyond the two demonstration colleges is imperative, given the ultimate goal of producing useful products for all Ohio colleges. If you have a specific request related to stakeholder discussions throughout Ohio, please contact OACC for additional information and details.  

7. What is the timeline for this initiative? 

The project was officially awarded on July 1, 2023, and will be completed on March 31, 2025.  

8. Who can I contact for more information about this initiative?  

You may contact Dr. Lisa Stich, project director and ATD’s director of the PDP program, at [email protected] or Dr. Anne Foster, OACC’s director of institutional effectiveness and project leadership team member, at [email protected]. 


[1] Education Data Initiative. Retrieved from website

[2] Carnevale, A.P., Garcia, T.L., Ridley, N., Quinn, M.C. (2020). Overlooked Value of Certificates and Associate Degrees. Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce. Retrieved from CEW website:;

[3] Which College Programs Give Students the Best Band for Their Buck, Thirdway. August 13, 2021. Retrieved from website

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