Advancing Equity and Upward Mobility through Community College-Employer Partnerships (ACE-UP)

Overview

Launched in 2023, Corporation for a Skilled Workforce (CSW), with support from Lumina Foundation, convened 20-25 community colleges and their industry partners a community of practice, Advancing Community Equity and Upward Mobility (ACE-UP).  ACE-UP is designing and uplifting strategies colleges can employ to help their industry partners create more inclusive workplace environments leading to worker retention, advancement, and economic success. ACE-UP is targeting grantees participating in the U.S. Department of Labor’s Strengthening Community Colleges initiative and other institutions seeking to increase employment equity through educational and economic opportunity with a particular focus on Black, Hispanic, and Native American populations.

Five themes underpin the ACE-UP learning experience:

  1. Advancing and institutionalizing equity
  2. Aligning policies and practices
  3. Enhancing student services
  4. Increasing employer engagement
  5. Using data to drive decision-making

In January 2024, additional funding from Lumina enables extending the community of practice through June 2025.  While existing ACE-UP activities continue, the program extension enables new components including an employer-focused affinity group, small group meetings on select topics, individual coaching sessions, and an in-person meeting for community of practice members.  The program extension also allows for new member institutions to join the community of practice.

ACE-UP activities include bi-monthly workshops, and coaching and technical assistance sessions through summer 2025. Participants are working with peer community college and industry partners from across the country to gain exposure, employ practical planning tools, and reflect on and plan for applying the principles that underlie effective strategies at their colleges and industry partner workplaces. Participating institutions develop actionable plans to implement at their institutions, to cover three areas:

  1. Increase full access to educational and economic opportunity, particularly for individuals from historically underrepresented and marginalized populations and communities.
  2. Support community members in addressing equity gaps and reaching identified equity focused goals.
  3. Advance employer equity workplace policies and practices that support industry partners in engaging with broader talent pools, becoming sustainable employers of choice.

Inclusivity and diversity are core values of ACE-UP. The cohort represents a cross-section of community colleges and industry partnerships with respect to size, urbanicity, location, industry sectors, and targeted students/learners.

Partners

  • Corporation for a Skilled Workforce
  • Companion research from Urban Institute
  • Grantees participating in U.S. Department of Labor’s Strengthening Community Colleges initiative and other institutions seeking to increase employment equity through educational and economic opportunity with a particular focus on Black, Hispanic, and Native American populations
  • Lumina Foundation

Resources

ACE-UP

Strengthening Community Colleges Training Grants Program

 

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