Racial Equity for Adult Credentials In Higher Education (REACH) Collaborative


The Racial Equity for Adult Credentials in Higher Education (REACH) Collaborative is a national initiative of Lumina Foundation. It focuses on creating pathways designed for Black, Hispanic, and Native American adults to earn quality credentials that lead to a degree.

The initiative supports community colleges in creating pathways to high-quality non-degree credentials that are embedded in associate degree programs. These pathways are designed to make it possible for adults to pursue better job opportunities while continuing to progress toward a degree. Six states—California, Colorado, New York, North Carolina, Texas, and Virginia—were selected for their efforts to serve and support adult learners and their demonstrated commitment to equitable student success.

REACH has three main components – Credentials to Degrees Pathways, Bundled and Sequenced Supports, and Culturally Sustaining Practices – designed to work together to support adult students of color, addressing their specific needs and experiences. REACH employs sequenced student supports and culturally sustaining practices in its approach. This ensures (1) that academic, financial, and wraparound supports are purposely embedded and made available to students throughout their enrollment, and (2) that these experiences specifically account for the needs of adult students of color.

The two-year initiative seeks at least a 2 percent increase in the attainment of high-quality credentials and outcomes.


  • 23 of California’s 116 community colleges are participating through a community of practice launched by the Success Center for California Community Colleges. The colleges are implementing pathways-based reforms and supports specifically aimed at adult students of color. This work complements the state’s focus on promoting equity, supporting adult learners, and adopting guided pathways.
  • All 13 of Colorado’s community colleges are participating in REACH. The state’s policy of awarding credit for prior learning also positions these colleges well to serve adult learners. Colorado’s State Board for Community Colleges and Occupational Education also launched a $5 million program focused on closing racial equity gaps by targeting classroom practices. 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 Colorado community colleges.
  • 16 of New York’s 35 community colleges are bringing their experience with translating noncredit to credit programs to the state’s work in REACH. In addition to participating in Credential As You Go, the State University of New York administers apprenticeship and workforce development programs that incorporate credit and noncredit pathways to associate degrees. The New York collaborative is adopting guided pathways with the support of coaches. It also is committed to statewide implementation of culturally responsive curriculum.
  • 24 of North Carolina’s community colleges are working to engage and support adult learners and match program offerings with workforce needs. Through the NC Workforce Credentials initiative, the state uses a research-based process to identify and validate high-value, non-degree credentials. The state’s Better Skills Better Jobs program, which aims to recruit more adult students into pathways and connect them with local employers, also is also an asset for the REACH colleges.
  • 48 Texas community colleges are part of the Texas Pathways strategy that supports building pathways to high-value credentials and serves as a firm foundation for the state’s REACH Collaborative work. Texas Reskilling and Upskilling through Education (TRUE)—which aims to expand certificate and microcredential programs leading to high-demand job fields, particularly for displaced workers—is also being leveraged.
  • 15 of Virginia’s 23 community colleges are participating. Virginia’s current efforts with noncredit to credit programs and bundled supports align well with aspects of the REACH framework. The FastForward program provides short-term training for in-demand industries, allowing 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, gives participants access to research, funding, and other support in addressing racial disparities. This is essential to Virginia’s focus on serving the state’s Native American adult students.


Lumina partners with the John M. Belk Endowment,  Education Strategy Group (ESG), the Office of Community College Research and Leadership (OCCRL) at the University of Illinois, the University of Pittsburgh Council for the Study of Community Colleges (CSCC), and evaluation consulting firm DVP-PRAXIS LTD to lead the collaborative, coordinate technical assistance to institutions, and evaluate the effectiveness of these efforts at participating community colleges in six states.



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