California Competes Announces New Collaborative Focused on Supporting California Adults Back to and Through College 

by California Competes


Topics: Bachelor's Degrees, Community Colleges, Degree Attainment, Ed Equity, Adults, Workforce


Four organizations join efforts to conduct research, identify evidence-based practices, and advance reforms that re-engage adult learners back into college and onto completion.

Media Contact: Carolyn Ho, cho@californiacompetes.org

California Competes: Higher Education for a Strong Economy, a research nonprofit focused on advancing equitable higher education and workforce policies, joins forces with ProjectAttain!, California State University, Sacramento, and the Shasta-Tehama-Trinity Joint Community College District (Shasta College) to form the statewide collaborative, CaliforniaAttain!. This partnership focuses on increasing educational attainment and economic mobility of California adults who have some college but no credential (SCNC).

With support from the Kresge Foundation, CaliforniaAttain! will identify barriers to re-enrollment and college completion, pilot and evaluate institutional changes needed to remove those barriers, and advance policy reforms that optimize implementation of promising practices evaluated through the pilots. Efforts will center community voices, as the research design and evaluations will include SCNC students as co-designers and co-researchers.

“To mitigate postsecondary enrollment declines and narrow the credential gap, we have to make systemic shifts in higher education to better serve the four million adults in this state who started their postsecondary programs but did not complete a degree,” says California Competes Executive Director Dr. Su Jin Jez. “Through the infrastructure of CaliforniaAttain!, we can leverage the diversity of strengths and expertise of the partner organizations, center student experiences, and expand on the great work that is happening on a local level.”

CaliforniaAttain! draws from the guiding organizations’ leadership and innovation in adult engagement. California State University, Sacramento is a top performer on social mobility for economically disadvantaged students and adult re-engagement efforts within the largest university system in the US; ProjectAttain! has established a strong foothold as a regional collective action initiative focused on supporting Sacramento area residents needing nominal credits to complete their postsecondary credential; and Shasta College, a rural community college, is nationally recognized for its innovative work focused on serving adult learners, with initiatives such as the Accelerated College Education (ACE) that includes program modifications to degree program structures, case management, and expanded onramps to improve outcomes for adults balancing work and family obligations.

CaliforniaAttain! kicked off its efforts this past summer. The goal is to create a blueprint for increasing SCNC student success that has been thoroughly tested and evaluated, one that will be ready to scale up across California’s institutions and the nation.

“We are excited to support this innovative work that combines high-quality, on-the-ground best practice, lived experience expertise, and research to determine how to best support adults re-enrolling and gaining credentials towards degree attainment. We know when there is a degree in the household, families have a stronger chance for increased wages and better economic sustainability,” says Kresge Education Program Officer Ashley Johnson-Varner, PhD.

About California Competes: Higher Education for a Strong Economy

California Competes: Higher Education for a Strong Economy is a nonpartisan policy and research organization focused on identifying solutions to California’s most critical higher education and workforce issues. Through its rigorous research, California Competes advises decision makers on implementing policies that bolster equity so every Californian can engage, contribute, and succeed. For additional information, please visit www.californiacompetes.org, and follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn.

About The Kresge Foundation

The Kresge Education Program works to close race-based equity gaps for low-income and underrepresented students in the United States and South Africa.