Improving Workforce Outcomes for Rural Community College Students

Community college workforce programs are in the spotlight. Even before the outbreak of COVID-19, the combination of rising income inequality, decades of wage stagnation, disinvestment in public workforce funding, and a rapidly changing economy had placed pressure on U.S. community colleges to become engines of local workforce development. Rural community colleges hold enormous potential to yield innovative workforce programs that equip students for gainful career pathways and accelerate the equitable economic recovery our nation needs.

Social Finance conducted 50 interviews with rural education and workforce experts across the nation to gather insights and stories to help community colleges build successful workforce partnerships.

Featured community college workforce partnerships

This report is intended to serve as a “how-to guide” for rural community college leaders in building or refining workforce partnerships. For Workforce Program Directors, the checklists in the “Getting Started” and “Rural Considerations” sections are designed to be printed and used as a work plan. For Presidents and Provosts, we hope that the Executive Summary and the stories of their peer institutions serve as examples for transformation.

"For a long time, manufacturing and higher education [were] on paths that didn’t cross, but we have been intentional to make sure that they do cross—and that the community college encourages pathways and training for our local industry.”
-Heath McMillan, Director, Regional Center for Advanced Manufacturing

This report was created with support from Ascendium Education Group.


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