New project aims to increase adult learner enrollment in community college

“At the current attainment rate of 51.3 percent, almost 15 million more working-age adults must earn credentials of value by 2025 if the nation is to reach 60 percent.” – Lumina Foundation’s Stronger Nation Overview, July 2020

As open access institutions, community colleges serve as a pivotal part of the higher education system, enrolling the most demographically diverse student bodies. However, while community college students are often older adults, many colleges are still struggling with developing strategies for enrolling adults without credentials, especially Black, Hispanic, Latinx, and Native Americans.

To address this challenge, Achieving the Dream is excited to announce the launch of a new initiative focused on promoting adult learner enrollment in community college. Through the Prioritizing Adult Community College Enrollment (PACCE) grant, ATD is partnering with the Lumina Foundation, Ideas42, and rpkGROUP to support up to 20 community colleges in select states to implement promising strategies for boosting adult learner enrollment in high-quality programs that lead to postsecondary credentials.

The PACCE initiative will support each college’s work over two years to scale and institutionalize one or more strategies that intentionally addresses enrolling or re-enrolling Black, Hispanic, Latinx, and Native American students aged 25+.

“Achieving the Dream is excited to be the coordinating partner for the PACCE project,” said Dr. Monica Parrish Trent, ATD’s vice president of network engagement. “The focus on centering equity and sharing promising practices that facilitate access and success for adult learners aligns with ATD’s deep commitment of supporting community college students achieve social and economic mobility.”

Through this project, ATD and partners aim to:

  1. Support the successful implementation of adult learner enrollment strategies at each of the participating colleges. To achieve this, the colleges will participate in training to support their efforts to scale and sustain their enrollment strategies and apply behavioral design throughout their work. Additional training and support will be tailored to meet the evolving needs of each participating college.
  2. Scale the promising strategies, lessons, and tools to the broader field. To achieve this, ATD will work with partners to distill promising strategies to enroll or re-enroll adult learners and the tools that support colleges in adapting these strategies to their own context. ATD will share these learnings through our national events, blogs, webinars, and an interactive compilation of tools and resources. This sharing of promising practices will begin early in the project so other colleges can begin to reimagine their adult learner enrollment strategies based on our ongoing learning.

The request for proposals (RFP) was released by invitation only to eligible institutions in August and closed on September 17, 2021. More information on the PACCE initiative and the RFP can be found here.

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