California Competes

California Competes: Higher Education for a Strong Economy is a nonpartisan policy and research organization focused on identifying solutions to the state’s most critical challenges at the intersection of higher education, equity, and the economy.

We seek to strengthen education-to-employment pathways to drive economic strength, resilience, and growth for California. Through our rigorous, research-based approach, we guide decision makers and leaders on advancing policy solutions and system-level change that enables all Californians to achieve their education and career goals.

nonpartisan policy organization
We are a team of 10, guided by a board of 14

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are women of color
0 %

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are people of color
0 %
California Competes’s expertise stems from
14 decades

in research

38 decades

in education

31 decades

in policy &

12 decades

in workforce &
economic development

15 decades

in business


Established in 2011, our mission is to help transform the state’s higher education system into an engine of economic opportunity that empowers all Californians, particularly those from underserved communities, to achieve their full potential.


We envision a California where our state and regional economies and communities thrive, fueled by equitable and racially-just postsecondary and workforce outcomes.


We view higher education as a vaccine and an antidote against economic stagnation and social stratification–for individual Californians, our communities, and the state’s economy. We believe long-term economic growth for California will be accomplished through shared prosperity.

Our Approach
California policy research


California Competes focuses our research efforts at the intersection of higher education, equity, and the economy. Our policy research identifies the state’s unfilled potential and informs what change is needed at the state, regional, local, system, and institutional levels.

California higher education advocate


As a trusted advisor to the governor’s office, legislators, and decision makers across the education-to-employment continuum, we engage leaders in Sacramento and statewide to share our policy research and help solve some of California’s toughest challenges.

California higher education convene


We convene experts in higher education and workforce policy and involve decision makers, students, and practitioners in important discourse to drive systems change for the benefit of all Californians instead of a select few. These gatherings provide opportunities to learn, educate, advocate, connect, and inspire so we can promote innovation and embrace bold ideas.

California higher education partners


We partner with institutions, local and regional governments, employers, student groups, philanthropies, and peer organizations to use our collective voice to affect a double bottom line: achieving equity for students and growing our regional economies.

Our Core Values
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Advance Equity

We commit to creating an equitable and inclusive California where opportunities are not shaped or limited by one’s background. We prioritize this not just in our work but also in how we operate as an organization.

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Connect & Collaborate

We work together with allies across parties and sectors for the good of the state’s residents. We value the diverse perspectives and expertise our partners bring to the advancement of an inclusive, stronger California.

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Be Bold & Relentless

Undaunted by the complexity of big challenges, we fiercely move forward to generate innovative yet actionable next steps.

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Focus on High-Impact

We address issues that stand to have the biggest impact, whose effects ripple across our state.