East Valley Maricopa Community Colleges Selected for Education Design Lab’s Community College Growth Engine Fund

MESA, Arizona — Feb, 1, 2022 — Chandler-Gilbert Community College, Mesa Community College, Rio Salado College and Scottsdale Community College announced today they will partner to create new micro-pathways in advanced manufacturing and information technology with the Education Design Lab (The Lab), a national nonprofit that designs, implements, and scales new learning models for higher education and the future of work.

The East Valley Maricopa Community Colleges were selected to participate in the Lab’s second cohort in the nationally recognized Community College Growth Engine Fund (the Fund), which raised $1.2M to sponsor Maricopa Colleges to develop micro-pathways, a new class of credentials designed to accelerate economic mobility for historically non-traditional learners which now comprise what the Lab calls the new majority learners.

Building on the momentum of the first cohort, the Fund announced four new colleges and systems for Year 2. Maricopa Community Colleges is joined in Cohort 2 by:

  • Colorado Community College System (Energy + healthcare)
  • Bunker Hill Community College in Boston (Healthcare + IT)
  • The Community College of Philadelphia (Healthcare; STEAM life sciences + technology; and transportation + logistics)

What are micro-pathways? Co-designed with learners and employers in high-demand areas, micro-pathways are defined as two or more stackable credentials, including a 21st century skill micro-credential, that are flexibly delivered to be achieved within less than a year and result in a job at or above the local median wage.

Recent reports nationwide show the emerging demand for microcredentials to fill a growing skills gap, including stories featured in EducationDynamics, Forbes and Bloomberg. Nearly 90 percent of the managers and executives who responded to the McKinsey Global Survey indicate they are currently experiencing workforce skills gaps or expect to in the next few years.

"We are proud to partner with our sister colleges and the Education Design Lab to bring micro-pathways to the East Valley,” said Chandler-Gilbert Community College President Greg Peterson. “These micro-pathways will allow us to equip members of our community with the skills needed for careers in the growing advanced manufacturing and information technology industries."

"Mesa Community College is excited to continue its successful partnerships with our sister colleges in the East Valley and industry to develop micro-credentials to help students quickly gain necessary skills to enter or advance in the workforce," said Mesa Community College Interim President Lori Berquam, Ph.D. "The focus on readying talent for careers in information technology and advanced manufacturing will serve our students and our community for both the short- and long-term."

“This regional collaboration will define skills gaps with industry partners and design short-form educational pathways to fill identified workforce gaps in our community,” said Rio Salado College President Kate Smith. “We are honored to partner together with the Community College Growth Engine Fund to address the rapidly changing needs in our community.”

“Maricopa Community Colleges are best positioned to serve growing workforce needs with skills training and certificates in the Information Technology and Advanced Manufacturing industries of the Phoenix Metropolitan area,” said Dr. Steven R. Gonzales, Chancellor of Maricopa Community College District. “This generous support and investment from the Community College Growth Engine Fund will enable our East Valley colleges to strengthen community partnerships to support new pathways to employment in high demand fields.”

“Learner attitudes about school and work are shifting, employers are at the table looking for new solutions, and community colleges are on the brink of change,” Dr. Lisa Larson, Head of the Community College Growth Engine Fund said. “There has never been a more pressing moment to figure out what the next generation of community colleges are and, importantly, how to get there. So far, we’ve seen firsthand how the Fund’s micro-pathway model and design process can serve as a gateway to community college transformation.”

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Media contact: Dawn Zimmer, dawn.zimmer@mesacc.edu or 480-461-7892

Education Design Lab is a national nonprofit that co-designs, prototypes, and tests education-to-workforce models through a human-centered design process focused on understanding learners’ experiences, addressing equity gaps in higher education, and connecting new majority learners to economic mobility. The Community College Growth Engine Fund, led by Dr. Lisa Larson, is a design accelerator set up just before the pandemic to help community colleges lean into a future role as regional talent agents. Earlier in January, the Lab released the Fund’s first Design Insights Brief, featuring micro-pathway models and insights from Year 1. Learn more at eddesignlab.org.

Mesa Community College is nationally recognized as an Aspen Prize Top 150 U.S. Community College and is known for service learning, career and technical programs, civic engagement and innovative approaches to education. For more than 50 years, the college has served as a resource for career readiness, transfer education, workforce development and lifelong learning. Host to more than 30,000 students annually, MCC offers degree and certificate programs at its two campuses, additional locations and a combination of online formats. Through Guided Pathways with Integrated Support Services and a commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion, MCC is transforming how it champions student success, college completion, university transfer and career attainment and advancement. MCC is a Hispanic Serving Institution and nearly 50% of its students are the first in their families to attend college. Its American Indian Institute serves students from the 22 federally recognized tribes of Arizona as well as out-of-state tribes. MCC has the largest indigenous student population of all the Maricopa Community Colleges. The diverse student body includes more than 300 international students from 55 countries. Award-winning faculty are dedicated to student success, providing the education and training that empowers MCC students to successfully transfer to a university or compete in the workforce. Located in the East Valley of Phoenix, Arizona, on the traditional territories of the O'odham, Piipaash and Yavapai Peoples, MCC is one of 10 colleges in the Maricopa County Community College District. Visit mesacc.edu to learn more.

Maricopa Community Colleges are individually accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) -- hlcommission.org.

The Maricopa County Community College District (MCCCD) is an EEO/AA institution and an equal opportunity employer of protected veterans and individuals with disabilities. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, or national origin. A lack of English language skills will not be a barrier to admission and participation in the career and technical education programs of the District. MCCCD does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, disability or age in its programs or activities. For Title IX/504 concerns, call the following number to reach the appointed coordinator: (480) 731-8499. For additional information, as well as a listing of all coordinators within the Maricopa College system, visit http://www.maricopa.edu/non-discrimination.

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Publication Date: 
Tuesday, February 1, 2022