Community Colleges Awarded Grant to Build Five “Micro-pathways” in Energy and Healthcare


January 18, 2022 (Denver, CO) – Today the Colorado Community College System (CCCS) announced it will build five micro-pathways in energy and healthcare in partnership with the Education Design Lab (The Lab), a national nonprofit that designs, implements and scales new learning models for higher education.

Designed with input from learners and employers, micro-pathway programs combine two or more stackable credentials in high-growth, high-paying fields that can be completed in a year or less. The Lab awarded the Foundation for Colorado Community Colleges a $262,500 grant to build the program and will advise colleges on best practices. EDL will also provide an additional $1 million in technical support to CCCS for a total investment of more than $1.25 million.

This collaboration keeps us at the forefront of work-based learning innovation and will help us meet the needs of our growing adult learner population.
- Joe Garcia, CCCS Chancellor
“We are thrilled to partner with the Education Design Lab and roll out this exciting approach to program design at our colleges,” said Joe Garcia, Chancellor of the Colorado Community College System. “This collaboration keeps us at the forefront of work-based learning innovation and will help us meet the needs of our growing adult learner population.”

According to The Lab’s research, micro-pathway programs often offer more flexibility and a clearer return on investment for adult learners. Collaborating on micro-pathways can also strengthen relationships between employers and community colleges, The Lab says.

“The Lab’s funding and technical assistance will help jumpstart these programs in energy and healthcare—two dynamic and essential industries in Colorado,” said Michael Macklin, associate vice chancellor for academic affairs and workforce development at CCCS. “By mapping out learning tracks combining non-credit and credit-bearing courses, as well as industry-recognized credentials, students will have clear paths into jobs that are high-skill, high-wage and in-demand with the opportunity to earn a certificate or associate degree.”

CCCS plans to pilot the micro-pathways at the following colleges: Arapahoe Community College, Colorado Northwestern Community College, Community College of Aurora, Community College of Denver, Lamar Community College, Northeastern Junior College and Pueblo Community College. If successful, CCCS hopes to design more micro-pathways for additional sectors.


About CCCS
The Colorado Community College System (CCCS) is the state’s largest system of higher education and workforce development, delivering thousands of programs to over 125,000 students annually through 13 colleges and 35 locations across Colorado. The System’s open-access mission ensures all Coloradans who aspire to enrich their lives have access to high quality, affordable higher education opportunities. The System Office provides leadership, advocacy, and support to the colleges under the direction of the State Board for Community Colleges and Occupational Education (SBCCOE). Join us in changing the way Colorado goes to college

About Foundation For Colorado Community Colleges
Founded in 1987, the Foundation for Colorado Community Colleges advances the mission, vision, goals, and objectives of the Colorado Community College System. Specifically, the Foundation actively seeks contributions from public and private sources to make scholarships available statewide, advance key programmatic initiatives, provide training and support for CCCS college foundations, and develop partnerships to implement state of the art programs that meet the workforce needs of the 21st century.

About Education Design Lab:
The Lab is a national nonprofit that co-designs, prototypes, and tests education-to-workforce models through a human-centered design process focused on understanding learners’ experiences, addressing equity gaps in higher education, and connecting new majority learners to economic mobility. The Community College Growth Engine Fund, led by Dr. Lisa Larson, is a design accelerator set up just before the pandemic to help community colleges lean into a future role as regional talent agents. Learn more:

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