The REACH Collaborative is focused on creating pathways designed for Black, Hispanic, and Native American adults to earn quality credentials that lead to a degree. Our goal is to ensure that many more adults of color have a clear path – free of the racial barriers that often stand in the way of their success – and the support they need to begin advancing their careers now and start to dream even bigger.

6.7x

greater average net worth of a white family than that of a Black family

Source: Brookings

48%

fewer Black workers in professional occupations than white workers

Source: Economic Policy Institute

18%

lower attainment of associate degrees for Native American and Hispanic adults than white adults

Source: Lumina Foundation

REACH Framework

The REACH Collaborative framework guides community colleges in developing pathways that embrace the unique experiences and needs of adult students of color.

Credentials to Associates Pathways

Too often, life gets in the way for adult students, forcing them to delay or abandon their studies altogether. On top of losing valuable time and money, they have nothing to show for their hard work. Non-degree credentials offered in a sequence that leads to an associate degree give students a clear path for making short-term gains while continuing to progress toward their ultimate goal. REACH’s Credentials to Associates Pathways are focused on access to high-wage careers in growth industries and are employer verified to ensure they provide relevant professional skills.

Bundled, Sequenced Supports

Many adult students of color are managing a delicate balancing act of life responsibilities – one that could collapse at any time. Whether the issue is loss of financial resources, transportation, or childcare, finding the right help when things fall apart becomes one more hurdle. Adult students of color need proactive, holistic support that starts addressing their needs in and out of the classroom before they ever step foot in one. By combining comprehensive academic and non-academic support, like career advising, REACH colleges increase the likelihood that these students will be able to meet the demands of school and their busy lives, choose the best pathway for them, and ultimately, get where they want to go.

Culturally Sustaining Practices

The traditional college-going experience was not designed with adult students of color in mind. Inequitable policies and practices, ranging from enrollment and placement processes to access to financial aid and student services, send an unintentional message to these students that they don’t belong and are not welcome in higher education. In developing their pathways, REACH colleges are committed to planning every step of a student’s journey with a focus on racial equity. Guided by equity champions, they identify and eliminate racial barriers to success and adopt practices that embrace the cultures of adult students of color, supporting them in their chosen pathways.

  • Credentials to Associates Pathways

    Credentials to Associates Pathways

    Too often, life gets in the way for adult students, forcing them to delay or abandon their studies altogether. On top of losing valuable time and money, they have nothing to show for their hard work. Non-degree credentials offered in a sequence that leads to an associate degree give students a clear path for making short-term gains while continuing to progress toward their ultimate goal. REACH’s Credentials to Associates Pathways are focused on access to high-wage careers in growth industries and are employer verified to ensure they provide relevant professional skills.

  • Bundled, Sequenced Supports

    Bundled, Sequenced Supports

    Many adult students of color are managing a delicate balancing act of life responsibilities – one that could collapse at any time. Whether the issue is loss of financial resources, transportation, or childcare, finding the right help when things fall apart becomes one more hurdle. Adult students of color need proactive, holistic support that starts addressing their needs in and out of the classroom before they ever step foot in one. By combining comprehensive academic and non-academic support, like career advising, REACH colleges increase the likelihood that these students will be able to meet the demands of school and their busy lives, choose the best pathway for them, and ultimately, get where they want to go.

  • Culturally Sustaining Practices

    Culturally Sustaining Practices

    The traditional college-going experience was not designed with adult students of color in mind. Inequitable policies and practices, ranging from enrollment and placement processes to access to financial aid and student services, send an unintentional message to these students that they don’t belong and are not welcome in higher education. In developing their pathways, REACH colleges are committed to planning every step of a student’s journey with a focus on racial equity. Guided by equity champions, they identify and eliminate racial barriers to success and adopt practices that embrace the cultures of adult students of color, supporting them in their chosen pathways.

REACH States

The six states in the REACH Collaborative were selected for their innovative, student-centered pathways and demonstrated commitment to equitable student success. The more than 160 community colleges in those states that are participating in REACH will build on existing efforts that align with the work of the collaborative and support its goals. 

California: 25 Community Colleges

California: 25 Community Colleges

California’s focus on promoting equity, supporting adult learners, and adopting guided pathways are in direct symmetry with the REACH Collaborative. Twenty community colleges that are involved in a complementary Guided Pathways implementation project are poised to integrate REACH strategies into this work. California’s REACH collaborative, a community of practice launched by the Success Center for California Community Colleges, will help colleges implement pathways-based reforms and supports specifically aimed at adult students of color.

Colorado: 13 Community Colleges

Colorado: 13 Community Colleges

Colorado has set clear strategic goals that center adult students of color, such as increasing their credential attainment in STEM and education fields. Colorado’s State Board for Community Colleges and Occupational Education (SBCCOE) recently launched a $5 million program focused on closing racial equity gaps by targeting classroom practices over the next three years. Community College of Aurora’s success in closing equity gaps using data, faculty coaches, and professional development to foster inclusive, culturally relevant, and high-quality teaching and instruction serves as a model for all 13 of the state's community colleges participating in the REACH Collaborative. Colorado’s robust statewide credit for prior learning policy also positions these colleges well for serving adult learners.

New York: 30 Community Colleges

New York: 30 Community Colleges

New York’s experience with translating noncredit to credit programs is beneficial to the state’s REACH Collaborative work. In addition to participating in Credential As You Go (CAYG), an incremental credentialing initiative supported by a Lumina Foundation grant, the State University of New York (SUNY) administers apprenticeship and workforce development programs that incorporate credit and noncredit pathways to associates degrees. More than half of New York’s community colleges, 30 of which are taking part in REACH, are adopting guided pathways with the support of coaches. A commitment to statewide implementation of culturally responsive curriculum will also align with REACH’s focus on culturally sustaining practices.

North Carolina: 24 Community Colleges

North Carolina: 24 Community Colleges

North Carolina’s efforts to engage and support adult learners and match program offerings with workforce needs will be valuable to its REACH Collaborative work. Through the NC Workforce Credentials initiative, the state uses a research-based process to identify high-value, non-degree credentials that includes validating them with industry leaders. North Carolina’s Better Skills Better Jobs program, which aims to recruit more adult students into pathways and connect them with local employers, could also be an asset for the 24 REACH colleges. Racial equity training provided to guided pathways coaches through the NC Student Success Center will be useful in designing pathways for adult students of color.

Texas: 50 Community Colleges

Texas: 50 Community Colleges

Widespread adoption of guided pathways has occurred across Texas’ 50 community college districts as a result of Texas Pathways. This statewide strategy that supports building pathways to high-value credentials will serve as a firm foundation for the state’s REACH Collaborative work. The Texas Reskilling and Upskilling through Education (TRUE), which aims to expand certificate and micro-credential programs leading to high-demand job fields, particularly for displaced workers, will also be leveraged. Texas community colleges who participated in a recent basic needs assessment with the Hope Center for College, Community, and Justice can use those insights to help inform and guide the creation of bundled supports for adult students of color at REACH colleges.

Virginia: 23 Community Colleges

Virginia: 23 Community Colleges

Virginia’s current efforts with noncredit to credit programs and bundled supports align well with aspects of the REACH Collaborative framework. The FastForward program provides short-term training for in-demand industries, allowing for noncredit credentials to be translated into academic credit. The Get Skilled, Get a Job, Get Ahead (G3) initiative, a tuition-free community college program for low- and middle-income students who pursue jobs in high-demand fields, provides wraparound financial assistance to help eligible students. Virginia’s participation in the Talent, Innovation, and Equity (TIE) initiative, supported by Lumina Foundation, provides access to research, funding, and other support in addressing racial disparities, essential to Virginia’s specific focus on serving the state’s Native American adult students.

BRIEF: Culturally Sustaining Practices

What are culturally sustaining practices and why do they matter in redesigning systems that value and empower adult students of color?

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BRIEF: Bundled and Sequenced Supports

A closer look at the second pillar of the REACH framework: the importance of bundling and sequencing supports to understand and address the many complexities of the lives of adult students of color.

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BRIEF: Re-Imagining What Works for Adult Learners of Color

An introduction to the REACH Collaborative, the focus of the effort, and the three pillars that drive the work.

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BRIEF: Credentials to Degrees Pathways

A dive into the first pillar of the REACH Framework: How the REACH states are developing academic pathways of credentials in sequences that align with associate degree programs.

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