Northeast Resiliency Consortium

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Achieving the Dream and the seven colleges in the Northeast Resiliency Consortium (NRC) have developed a resiliency competency model important to the success of students as they exit college, get their first job or change to a new job.  A pioneer in the concept of workforce resiliency, the NRC defines resiliency as an individual’s persistent development and application of knowledge, skills, and resources that effectively help one adapt to change and overcome adversity.  The model was developed using multiple methods of systematic collection and processing of feedback from students, faculty, staff, administration, employers, and industry groups. Competencies have been integrated into courses as diverse as algebra, IT, and student success.       

The components of the NRC’s resiliency competency model include:

  • Critical Thinking: Purposeful use of reasoning to identify strengths and weaknesses of alternative approaches in diverse situations.
  • Adaptability: Successful adjustment to a variety of positive and negative conditions and circumstances.
  • Self-Awareness: Clear understanding of one’s qualities, characteristics, strengths and weaknesses, and how they impact one’s self and others.
  • Reflective Learning: Integration and application of prior and current learning to new situations.
  • Collaboration: Works with others to achieve a goal.

For more on the competency model, click here.

DREAM 2017 NRC Meeting Visual Story

To view the October 6, 2016 Prior Learning Assessment and Student Success webinar see below.  Accompanying webinar slides may be downloaded here.


To view the July 26, 2016 Resiliency in Times of Change, Challenge, and Crisis webinar see below.  Accompanying webinar slides may be downloaded here.


Northeast Resiliency Consortium Overview

The Northeast Resiliency Consortium (NRC) was created in the wake of recent natural and man-made disasters in the Northeast United States. These disasters served as powerful reminders that catastrophes can come in all shapes and sizes and can disrupt a community’s infrastructure and civic life.  As the region began recovery efforts during 2013, and neighborhoods began pulling together to look toward the future, this group of seven community colleges in New Jersey, New York, Connecticut and Massachusetts determined they would move forward in a new way. They banded together as the Northeast Resiliency Consortium (NRC) with plans to act on a shared commitment to build a more adaptive, resilient workforce in industries central to preventing, responding to, and recovering from disasters and crises. 

With $23.5 million from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College Career and Training (TAACCCT) program and leadership and support from Achieving the Dream, the NRC targeted industries such as healthcare, where remaining adept at responding to emergencies and crises is critical for survival; information technology, where data networks must remain functional during catastrophes; and environmental technologies, where resilient infrastructures can help states and communities prevent and recover from disasters. The focus on resiliency unites the NRC colleges in building stronger, safer, and more prosperous communities throughout the Northeast while mitigating the short and long term effects of recent disasters and future threats.

Additional Consortium Strategies

In addition to developing the resiliency competency model, the NRC has adopted several core strategies to help students persist in their studies and build resiliency.

Prior Learning Assessment

Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) is the process of earning college credit for college-level learning acquired from other sources, such as work experience, professional training, military training, community service and volunteer activities, or open source learning from the internet. Using PLA ensures that multiple pathways to learning are recognized by the participating colleges and therefore help to accelerate the academic and professional endeavors of students. Each college has focused on cultivating individual plans to successfully implement PLA standards at their institutions.  In doing so, the colleges followed a strict process to maintain the same quality, integrity and equity as any other academic program at their institution used to award equivalent credit.

Enroll now in Achieving the Dream's Online Professional Development on Prior Learning Assessment
Achieving the Dream is now offering an online professional development course on PLA and how to implement a strong PLA program at your institution. This self-paced course was developed in partnership with Prior Learning Assessment expert Nan Travers and the seven Achieving the Dream Colleges in the Northeast Resiliency Consortium. Enroll in the course today and make sure your students' college-level learning counts! Start anytime and finish at your own pace. Contact for more information and register for the course.

Student Support Services

The NRC has made strong progress toward providing comprehensive student support services. These services vary for each college, but include counseling, transportation services, mentorship programs, study skills coaching, career fairs and access to work-based learning opportunities and employer advisors.

Almost all colleges have hired support services staff, including employer relations specialists and recruitment and retention specialists to support NRC participants. These staff members work directly with students in a variety of ways, with some offering resume development workshops, mock interviews, and other interview preparation support. Others provide career placement services either during the program or as part of an internship/clinical component.

A Collaborative Effort

Through a sustained and coordinated effort, ATD, the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching (Carnegie Foundation) , and the lead NRC college, Passaic County Community College (PCCC), are working with the NRC community colleges and employers to build a highly-skilled, resilient regional workforce that will transition seamlessly into in-demand occupations and advance along a career pathway.

Achieving the Dream brings expertise in institutional change and building pathways to the participating colleges. In addition, ATD supports networking, knowledge development, and the dissemination of promising practices so the entire ATD network benefits from the NRC’s work and learning.

The Carnegie Foundation has developed Quantway math modules contextualized to programs of study for use at NRC colleges. The Carnegie Foundation also provides professional development for NRC colleges around productive persistence.

As the lead, PCCC has employed a project management team responsible for monitoring the work of the consortium and ensuring that the project goals and objectives are being met in a timely manner. In collaboration with the project partners, PCCC manages the activities of the Consortium Leadership Council (CLC), through which policies and procedures are established, and federal regulations are followed. PCCC brings together the community college partners for bi-annual summits conducted by ATD on topics such as resiliency, collaboration, and educational and workforce innovation.


  • Helping Community College Students Develop Resiliency in Academics and in Life

    In this comprehensive practitioner guidebook, the Northeast Resiliency Consortium colleges have shared their work and have collaborated to develop a competency model, along with a rich and robust set of principles, strategies, resources, and guidelines for helping students develop strong resiliency.

    The Resiliency Competency Model outlines the knowledge, skills, and resources students can learn to use to adapt to change. Competencies inside the model include self-awareness, adaptability, critical thinking, reflective learning, and collaboration, which help people in different ways to rise above the challenges they face. For veterans and workers affected by changes in global trade and other demands, the NRC’s focus on resiliency in the classroom and through student support services along with work with regional employers made a difference in their ability to obtain skills, competencies, and credentials that enabled seamless transitions into high-demand occupations.

    Resource Files

  • This practice article describes prior learning assessment (PLA) policies and practices from four “Achieving the Dream” colleges in the Northeast Resiliency Consortium (NRC): Bunker Hill, Atlantic Cape, LaGuardia, and Passaic County Community Colleges (all located in the USA). These colleges acknowledge that college-level learning occurs on the job, in the community and in peoples’ lives. They have developed and implemented PLA on their campuses to enable community members to earn credentials more quickly. In this effort, they have been aided by the NRC’s PLA Standards.

    Resource Files

  • One important challenge the Northeast Resiliency Consortium colleges took on was aligning continuing education and credit programs along a career pathway to meet student and labor market needs. This brief describes how the colleges made adjustments to articulate non-credit to credit credentials to ensure strong career pathways for students who start on the non-credit ramp.As a result, the colleges are now providing students with stacked credentials, ensuring prior learning and experience is accounted for within pathways, and are formally recognizing key milestones with credentials. All in all, the colleges smoothed the way for students to work toward an associate degree even if they began their studies in a non-credit

    The results of this work are promising. As you will learn in this issue brief, according to the Northeast Resiliency Consortium Final Evaluation Report, a higher percentage of students enrolled in continuing education to credit pathways banked or earned credits, transitioned to credit-based programs, and gained and were retained in employment than a matched comparison group who did not enroll in these pathways.

    Resource Files

    atd_creating_opportunity_for_all.pdf493.52 KB
  • In this powerpoint presentation from the "Campus Collaborations that Strengthen Student Success through Experiential and Work-Based Learning" presentation at DREAM 2017 in San Francisco, California, two LaGuardia Community College Deans Francesca Fiore and Ann Feibel presented a collaborative experiential and work-based learning model that supports student success. By leveraging partnerships, best practices and experiences from two divisions – Academic Affairs and Continuing Education – LaGuardia has developed and implemented an experiential and work-based learning model that embeds practical skills development and job readiness across academic and noncredit curricula and programs and supports student learning, retention and progress towards their degree. Participants left the session with an experiential and work-based learning framework and with ideas for initiating collaborations that can support the implementation of this framework at their campuses.

    Authors: Francesca Fiore and Ann Feibel

  • In this powerpoint presentation from the "Linking Noncredit to Credit: it just makes 'cents'!"  presentation at DREAM 2017 in San Francisco, California, Alese Mulvihill described  the process that Housatonic used to lattice noncredit to credit programs. Through the college's work with the Northeast Resiliency Consortium Hosatonic created internal and external articulation agreements for our non-credit programs. Session attendees looked at an articulation agreement that was created in acknowledging the partnership between credit and non-credit. Session attendees also looked at the external evaluation process that was also used for some of Housatonic's classes. Attendees talked about dollars and cents and why this make sense fiscally as well as the benefits to the college and benefits to the students. Housatonic has gone through tremendous change to ensure that these partnerships continue after the grant including moving the department of Continuing Education and Professional Studies under the Academic Dean. Session attendees talked about this move and the importance of utilizing your institutions faculty in order to build your non-credit offerings.

    Author: Alese Mulvihill, Housatonic Community College

    Resource Files

  • This is the powerpoint presentation from the Teaching Resiliency pre-conference at DREAM 2017 in San Francisco, CA.  At this session, practitioners from colleges that are part of the Northeast Resiliency Consortium, Achieving the Dream staff, and a learning assessment and credentialing expert provided opportunities to learn about and then apply ways to develop students’ resilience. This half-day session introduced the resiliency competency model and tools to support its use in and outside of the classroom. Each pre-conference attendee will received a copy of the Resiliency Competency model and Teaching Resilience Toolkit.

    In this session, participants learned to

    1. Develop and assess resiliency enhanced courses;
    2. Incorporate classroom activities that develop students’ resilience, including project based learning; and,
    3. Develop plans for engaging faculty and other stakeholders

    Authors: Meredith Archer Hatch and Nan Travers


    Resource Files

  • In-person interviews were conducted with NRC project leaders, staff, and faculty at three NRC colleges; and telephone interviews were held with project leaders and staff at the remaining four colleges. These interviews focused on the resiliency support services colleges are providing as part of their work with the NRC, and this Issue Brief reflects our analysis of the interview data.

    The Brief is structured as follows:

    • Section I provides a summary of recent research in the area of support services and student success in community colleges.
    • Section II provides a description of the ways in which NRC colleges deliver resiliency support services to participants.
    • Section III identifies best practices in NRC colleges’ approaches to resiliency support services.

    Resource Files

    nrc-resiliency-brief_102516.pdf140.53 KB
  • These standards describe the methods by which the member institutions of the Northeast Resiliency Consortium agree to employ for programs identified under the TAACCCT grant. The standards are organized around Five Critical Factors for PLA Programs (Hoffman, Travers, Evans & Treadwell, 2009; Travers, 2013). Prior to the development of the NRC PLA standards, each member institution completed an inventory of current PLA practices organized around the Five Critical Factors. Through individual and joint meetings of the NRC, institutions reviewed the resulting inventory and provided feedback related to each institutions current and planned practices.

    In addition to the Five Critical Factors inventory, critical external sources were referenced. The Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE) and the New England Association for Schools & Colleges/ Commission on Institutions of Higher Education (NEASC/CIHE) (the two accreditation agencies for the regions included in the NRC) statements on PLA were reviewed to ensure that the standards aligned with each accreditation agency’s expectation. The Ten Standards for Assessing Learning developed by the Council for Adult and Experiential Learning (CAEL; were also considered and integrated into the NRC standards. The NRC Technical Proposal for the TAACCCT grant provided technical requirements for the standards, as well. For each following standard, the source material is indicated.

    Resource Files

    nrc_pla_standards_creative_commons.pdf332.67 KB
  • “Prior Learning Assessments (PLA) are based on awarding academic credit on the evaluation of verifiable college-level learning achieved outside of the traditional academic environment”[2]. PLA’s allow for easier transferability of credits, and provide an opportunity to align non-credit curriculum with credit bearing standards.

    For individuals interested in learning more about PLA systems, this handbook covers: 1) The five critical factors of PLA programs, 2) PLA Philosophy, Mission and Policies, 3) Institutional Support of PLA, 4) PLA Program Practices 5) Professional Development on PLA and 7) PLA program evaluation.

    This handbook was developed through the work of the Northeast Resiliency Consortium

    Resource Files

    plahandbooknrc_oct_2017.pdf666.93 KB
  • The Northeast Resiliency Consortium (NRC) is a partnership led by Passaic County Community College in partnership with Achieving the Dream and the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and funded by a Round Three U.S. Department of Labor Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) grant. The NRC is made up of seven Northeast community colleges addressing what resiliency means in times of crisis, change, and challenge. The NRC also includes Bunker Hill (MA), Kingsborough and LaGuardia (NY), Housatonic and Capital (CT), and Atlantic Cape (NJ) community colleges—all of which have responded and adapted to economic stressors, local crises, and large-scale natural disasters in the past five years like Hurricane Sandy, the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting, and the Boston Marathon bombings.

    The NRC set out to address what resiliency means in times of crisis, change, and challenge, including finding ways for community colleges to innovate while simultaneously creating a highly skilled and resilient workforce across the healthcare, information technology, and environmental/utility sectors. One core strategy of the NRC was the launching of the Resiliency Competency Model, which is featured in this brief. 

    Resource Files

  • This webinar provides an overview of the Northeast Resiliency Consortium Handbook on Prior Learning Assessments (PLA) and should be paired with the NRC Prior Learning Assessment Handbook.The webinar content includes use of the handbook in addition to providing professional development on several areas relevant to prior learning assessments such as 1) The five critical factors of PLA programs, 2) PLA Philosophy, Mission and Policies, 3) Institutional Support of PLA, 4) PLA Program Practices 5) Professional Development on PLA and 7) PLA program evaluation.

    Click here to watch the webinar. 

  • The Northeast Resiliency Consortium Resiliency Competency Model defines resiliency competence for students taking courses in community college and when exiting the community college to enter the workforce. This model presents five competencies that are critical to student success. In addition to the competency definition, a set of actions are provided to demonstrate some examples of successful student behavior within each competency. Though presented separately in the model, successful students use the competencies in combination to take effective action.

    These five competency areas have been developed using multiple methods of systematically collecting and processing stakeholder feedback. Stakeholders included students, faculty, staff, administration, employers and industry groups. Details regarding these methods and their results are available through the Northeast Resiliency Consortium.

    Resource Files

    NRC Resiliency Competencies.pdf231.93 KB
  • The evaluation framework consists of a conceptual graphic, a series of outcomes and indicators on the seven Northeast Resiliency Consortium strategies, and an institutionalization and sustainability rubric. This framework guides the implementation evaluation; including protocols, lines of inquiry, and formative feedback for colleges in the Northeast Resiliency Consortium.

    Resource Files

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