Building Stronger Pathways to Retail Careers Initiative

Clearly defined pathways to retail careers do not exist uniformly across the nation's community colleges. Through the Building Stronger Pathways to Retail Careers Initiative, funded by Walmart, Achieving the Dream has catalogued the current status of community college retail pathways, selected four community colleges to strengthen retail career pathways and advising systems, and identified lessons learned about retail career pathways that can help inform other pathways work. Read the lessons learned report here.


  • ATD’s Building Stronger Pathways to Retail Careers Initiative sought to provide clearer pathways to sustainable careers in retail for students and strengthen community college and retail employer partnerships. Four community colleges — Broward College and Tallahassee College in Florida, Durham Technical Community College in North Carolina, and Umpqua Community College in Oregon — participated in this initiative.

    While each of the colleges focused on different aspect of the retail industry and employed different programmatic approaches, the initial observations from the campuses and the lessons learned that can be applied moving forward focus on a set of common themes that emerged across the initiative.  Read more details about the lessons learned from ATD's Building Stronger Pathways to Retail Careers Initiative.

    Resource Files

    atd_2017_retail_pathways_report.pdf810.61 KB
  • Achieving the Dream invites proposals from active Achieving the Dream Institutions for the Building Stronger Pathways to Retail Careers Initiative, an Achieving the Dream managed grant opportunity funded by the Walmart Foundation. Four selected colleges will each receive $112,000 to strengthen a short-term (six months or less) retail credential that leads to middle-skill retail careers and is nested in and aligned within a broader, cohesive retail pathway. Recipient colleges will receive technical assistance to build capacity in tracking, analyzing, and using data to evaluate and improve their middle-skill retail career pathway programs. Colleges will then apply their pathway improvements and new knowledge to additional credentials contained within the broader retail pathway. Find out more and apply by clicking on the two documents below.  

    The 19-month initiative will provide community college students and incumbent retail workers with easily accessible, accelerated, and efficient retail pathways to master required competencies for middle-skill retail careers that pay family-sustaining wages. This initiative will assist community colleges in the Achieving the Dream Network by strengthening pathways to middle-skill retail careers.

    The proposal deadline is May 5, 2015 at 11:59 Pacific Time. For more information, please review the RFP and budget template below. If you have questions, please contact Cindy Lenhart, Vice President for Community College Relations and her team at

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