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Saint Paul College A Community & Technical College

Saint Paul College Joins Education Design Lab’s National Micro-pathways Initiative
Graphic: Map of United States with states highlighted: Minnesota - 4, Texas - 5, New York - 6. | Text: Community College Growth

Micro-pathways Offer Flexibility, High-Yield Skills to Learners

Saint Paul College announced it will design micro-pathways in partnership 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.

Saint Paul College is part of the Lab’s third cohort in the nationally recognized Community College Growth Engine Fund (the Fund) initiative that creates micro-pathways, a new class of credentials designed to accelerate economic mobility for new majority learner-earners.

As an open-access, student-ready institution, micro-pathways align with our mission and support our students by reducing time to completion for programs that provide a livable wage. The concept is a win-win for our students, our college, and the industries that need skilled workers.
Deidra Peaslee, President

The third cohort — the largest to date — is starting with 18 colleges in February 2023 and likely to grow to over 30 institutions by late spring. The new cohort includes three state systems/districts of community colleges, which will help sustain innovations through system-level transformation. Saint Paul College joins sibling system institutions Alexandria Technical and Community College, Central Lakes College, and Hennepin Technical College in this cohort.

Co-designed with learners and employers, 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 and start learners on the path to an associate degree.

Micro-pathways represent an exciting new space for students who want clear, affordable routes into well-paying, in-demand careers while also having options for additional training and advancement. We’re really looking at how we can put students in the driver’s seat by building pathways tailored to their needs and goals—be it through non-credit workforce training, credit-bearing educational programs, or an innovative mix of both.
Greg Rathert, Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs

“The world of work has never before put such an onus on skills as exist today,” said Bill Hughes, President and CEO of Education Design Lab. “Learners and earners need to show evidence of skills to be eligible for advancement in their career journeys. Employers need workers whose skills align with their talent requirements. The traditional degree alone does not solve for either of these, as it may be too time-intensive or expensive, and it may not align with the fast-changing needs of the labor market. The response to these challenges must be a shift to open up more affordable, accessible, job-aligned routes to employment opportunities. The work of the Community College Growth Engine Fund does that, and the Lab is excited to launch its next and largest cohort.”

"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,” said Dr. Lisa Larson, Head of the Community College Growth Engine Fund. “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.”

Learn more about the Community College Growth Engine Fund and download the January 2022 Design Insights Brief, which features learnings from our first cohort.

The 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. Learn more:

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