Strada Education Network Launches $4 Million Employer and Community College Partnership Challenge to Help Meet Today’s Education and Workforce Needs

INDIANAPOLIS – As the country experiences a dramatic period of job turnover, economic uncertainty, and postsecondary enrollment declines, employers and educators alike are eager to find ways to meet rapidly changing education and workforce needs. Working together, community colleges and local employers are innovating to address this challenge.  

To help local communities address their education and employment priorities, Strada Education Network announced today that it has launched the $4 million Employer and Community College Partnership Challenge. Strada will provide grants that support innovative partnerships between employers and community colleges to meet regional workforce needs, boost employment and earnings outcomes for students, and drive enrollment for community colleges.

Strada will award approximately $4 million to 10 to 12 partnerships. Details for how to apply can be found here. 

“We designed this grant-making initiative to help advance innovative partnerships between community colleges and employers,” said Ruth Watkins, president of Strada Impact. “Working together, community colleges and employers can find ways to help students get the skills and training they need that will provide employers with the talented staff they require to fill a growing workforce gap.”

The initiative was designed to support innovative partnerships that serve students who have traditionally faced significant barriers to economic mobility. Many of these students take advantage of the opportunities that community colleges provide, including affordable and open access to education, and the opportunity to choose from a wide spectrum of certificates and degrees.

“Community colleges and local employers are each essential contributors to a local community’s success,” said Stephen Moret, president and chief executive officer of Strada Education Network. “Community colleges provide students with the skills they need to advance their careers, and local employers provide employment, invest in the community, and are key participants in a region’s economic and civic life. We think these partnerships hold tremendous potential.” 

About the grants

Community colleges are invited to submit proposals with their local employer partner or partners from innovative partnerships that address enrollment declines and meet local workforce needs. Strada will support partnerships that lead to measurable student outcomes focused on employment, economic stability, and fulfillment of purpose.

In these partnerships, community colleges and employers will share ownership, responsibility, and accountability for the success of students and for meeting regional economic development needs. Partnerships may include one or more of the following, but are not limited to: 

  • Financial models to provide incentives for learning while earning (e.g., tuition assistance, scholarships, stipends, paid work, leave to learn).
  • Work-based learning opportunities (e.g., paid internships, apprenticeships).
  • Direct employer involvement in curriculum development, training, or staffing.
  • Innovations in both credit and noncredit-bearing stackable programs that address local workforce shortages (e.g., integrated prior learning, stackability). 

About Strada Education Network

Strada Education Network is a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping more people take advantage of education and training after high school that helps them secure a good job and achieve socioeconomic mobility. We conduct research, make charitable grants and social impact investments, and collaborate with educators, employers, policymakers, and organizations to help students succeed beyond completion of a certificate or degree. Learn more at