Teachers College, Columbia University

Strategies for Improving Postsecondary Credential Attainment Among Black, Hispanic, and Native American Adults

Strategies for Improving Postsecondary Credential Attainment Among Black, Hispanic, and Native American Adults

Contributing authors: Jessica Brathwaite, Nikki Edgecombe, Hoori Santikian Kalamkarian, Richard Kazis, Lindsay A. Leasor, Armando Lizarraga, Andrea Lopez Salazar, Ava Mateo, & Julia Raufman

The COVID-19 pandemic resulted in the highest unemployment that the U.S. has seen since the Great Depression, with particularly heavy job losses for Black, Hispanic, and Native American workers. In this set of studies commissioned by Lumina Foundation, the authors examine actions that states and community colleges can take to address the needs of racially minoritized adult learners who are pursuing postsecondary education and training as a path to re-employment, better jobs, and higher incomes.

  • Study 1. Aligning Short-Term Credentials with Community College Degree Programs describes how some states are creating and scaling opportunities for adults to earn occupational certificates that employers value and that lead to associate and bachelor’s degrees.
  • Study 2. Bundling and Sequencing Student Support Services explains how community colleges can improve the design and delivery of advising and other critical support services to help adults attain their education and employment goals.
  • Study 3. Culturally Sustaining Supports and Instruction offers examples and guiding principles that colleges can use to create programs and services that address the interests and needs of adults from diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds, and that encourage persistence in and completion of postsecondary credentials.

To describe these approaches and why they show promise, the authors draw on telephone interviews with state policymakers, community college leaders, and content area experts. Some of the policies and programs profiled have been evaluated; others represent promising strategies that will require further study to determine whether they improve education and employment outcomes and advance racial equity.