Community and technical colleges have mostly moved online amid the pandemic, raising concerns due to the historically low success rates for students enrolled in online-only education programs. These achievement gaps are even greater for the 69% of undergraduate students—41% of which identify as African American or Latinx—currently enrolled in CTE programs at community or technical colleges.
The pandemic coupled with our country’s long-overdue reckoning on racial inequality has underscored the urgency for ensuring the implementation and expansion of online postsecondary CTE is implemented with equity in mind.
To build upon previous investments and ensure online CTE programs incorporate learner-centered approaches, offer wraparound supports and integrate industry-informed pathways, ECMC Foundation has made a significant investment of $2.5 million to improve student outcomes and close equity gaps in online CTE.
Through an open, competitive request for proposal process, the Career Readiness team selected the CTE CoLab, a co-learning and co-creating laboratory led by the Urban Institute in partnership with five national organizations. The CTE CoLab will convene and support as many as 15 community and technical colleges as part of a College Community of Practice and develop a toolbox of evidence-informed resources to reduce equity gaps in online for-credit postsecondary CTE. Urban’s CoLab will also be led by the National Council for Workforce Education and World Education Inc., with supporting partners at the Instructional Technology Council, the National Coalition of Advanced Technology Centers and the Office of Community College Research and Leadership.
College programs selected for the CTE CoLab’s community of practice will receive $30,000 and technical assistance during the two-year engagement, with the goal of implementing strategies and developing resources to promote racial and ethnic equity in online postsecondary CTE programs. Through this work, the CTE CoLab will also develop resources to support the field and collaborate with colleges in making their CTE programming more inclusive and accessible.
The goal of this effort is to work toward reducing completion gaps in online postsecondary CTE programs, especially for Black, Latinx and Indigenous students, and seed the innovative change that CTE needs to meet this moment and thrive in the future.