Collaborating With Urban Institute to Strengthen Equity in Career and Technical Education

December 30th, 2020 | News


World Education is collaborating with the Urban Institute in a grant from ECMC Foundation to develop resources that support community and technical colleges with the transition to online learning while also working towards reducing completion gaps, particularly for Black and Latinx students in online, credit-bearing postsecondary career and technical education (CTE) programs.

ECMC Foundation has committed $2.5 million over two and a half years for the CTE CoLab Coalition and College Community of Practice. The program, led by Urban, will create a robust partnership with the National Council for Workforce Education; World Education, Inc.; the Instructional Technology Council; the National Coalition of Advanced Technology Centers; and the Office of Community College Research and Leadership. The coalition will support a research-informed College Community of Practice (CCP), which will include 15 community and technical colleges selected by the CTE CoLab Coalition. Through this effort, the coalition will also develop a toolbox of resources to support equity in online CTE programs.

“CTE programs play an important role in preparing students for good jobs. Even prior to the pandemic, there was evidence of equity gaps for students of color,” said Shayne Spaulding, a senior fellow in the Income and Benefits Policy Center at the Urban Institute. “As so many programs have been forced online, this exciting new collaboration is in a unique position to support colleges in making their programs more inclusive and accessible, ultimately leading to higher success for students.”

The CTE CoLab Coalition builds on the established expertise of partners and aims to help CCP colleges center equity in program goals and delivery. Grounded in research, the forthcoming resources will enhance existing online CTE professional development tools for faculty, career navigators, and administrators while providing new resources to improve program curriculum, retention and completion among Black and Latinx students. The CTE CoLab Coalition will work with CCP colleges by offering technical assistance and coaching for implementing action plans and coordination for virtual and in-person workshops.

“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 done with equity in mind,” shared Jennifer Zeisler, career readiness senior director at ECMC Foundation. “We believe the Urban Institute and their coalition of partners are uniquely positioned to help community and technical colleges improve online CTE programs and center equity at the core of their efforts in large part because of the experience and expertise of the partners, their potential to reach a vast and diverse audience, and their plans to quickly implement, field-test, and scale best practices.”

In its first year, the CTE CoLab Coalition will publish a research brief covering current CTE practices in ensuring equity, existing CTE resources, and information gained from interviews with leading experts in the field. This report will build important knowledge for the field and will also help shape the project’s selection of the CCP.

“Our mission as an organization has always been to advance economic mobility for individuals and communities struggling to overcome institutionalized barriers to their full inclusion in economic and civic life. Career and technical education has the potential to achieve this mission, when delivered with an eye toward equity and opportunity to improve economic security. This partnership offers colleges resources needed to leverage educational technology and prioritize equity to mitigate the barriers that impact persistence and prepare students for 21st century careers and work,” said Silja Kallenbach, vice president of the US Division of World Education, Inc. “We look forward to sharing our expertise to support CTE faculty, staff, and administrators integrating technology and student support programming with Urban and our coalition members on the important work that lies ahead.”

About the Urban Institute

The nonprofit Urban Institute is a leading research organization dedicated to developing evidence-based insights that improve people’s lives and strengthen communities. For 50 years, Urban has been the trusted source for rigorous analysis of complex social and economic issues; strategic advice to policymakers, philanthropists, and practitioners; and new, promising ideas that expand opportunities for all. Our work inspires effective decisions that advance fairness and enhance the well-being of people and places.

About ECMC Foundation

ECMC Foundation is a Los Angeles-based, nationally focused foundation with a mission to inspire and to facilitate improvements that affect educational outcomes—especially among underserved populations—through evidence-based innovation. It is one of several affiliates under the ECMC Group enterprise based in Minneapolis. ECMC Foundation makes investments in two focus areas: College Success and Career Readiness; and uses a spectrum of funding structures, including strategic grantmaking and program-related investments, to invest in both nonprofit and for-profit ventures. Working with grantees, partners and peers, ECMC Foundation’s vision is for all learners to unlock their fullest potential. Learn more about ECMC Foundation by visiting and ECMC Group by visiting

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