MCCCD’s East Valley Colleges Selected for Education Design Lab’s Community College Growth Engine Fund

Feb, 25 2022

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The Maricopa County Community College District (MCCCD) is pleased to announce that Chandler-Gilbert Community College, Mesa Community College, Rio Salado College, and Scottsdale Community College will partner to create new micro-pathways in advanced manufacturing and information technology with the Education Design Lab (The Lab), a national nonprofit that designs, implements, and scales new learning models for higher education and the future of work.

"The Maricopa Community Colleges are best positioned to serve growing workforce needs with skills training and certificates in the Information Technology and Advanced Manufacturing industries of the Phoenix Metropolitan area," said Dr. Steven R. Gonzales, MCCCD’s Interim Chancellor. "This generous support and investment from the Community College Growth Engine Fund will enable our East Valley colleges to strengthen community partnerships to support new pathways to employment in high demand fields."

The East Valley Maricopa Community Colleges were selected to participate in the Lab's second cohort in the nationally recognized Community College Growth Engine Fund (the Fund), which raised $1.2M to sponsor Maricopa Colleges to develop micro-pathways, a new class of credentials designed to accelerate economic mobility for historically non-traditional learners which now comprise what the Lab calls the new majority learners.

Building on the momentum of the first cohort, the Fund announced four new colleges and systems for Year 2. The Maricopa Community Colleges are joined in Cohort 2 by:

  • Colorado Community College System (Energy + healthcare)
  • Bunker Hill Community College in Boston (Healthcare + IT)
  • The Community College of Philadelphia (Healthcare; STEAM life sciences + technology; and transportation + logistics)


Co-designed with learners and employers in high-demand areas, micro-pathways are defined as two or more stackable credentials, including a 21st-century skill micro-credential, that are flexibly delivered to be achieved within less than a year and result in a job at or above the local median wage.

Recent reports nationwide show the emerging demand for microcredentials to fill a growing skills gap, including stories featured in EducationDynamics, Forbes and Bloomberg. Nearly 90 percent of the managers and executives who responded to McKinsey Global Survey indicate they are currently experiencing workforce skills gaps or expect to in the next few years.

"We are proud to partner with our sister colleges and the Education Design Lab to bring micro-pathways to the East Valley," said Chandler-Gilbert Community College President Greg Peterson. "These micro-pathways will allow us to equip members of our community with the skills needed for careers in the growing advanced manufacturing and information technology industries."

"Mesa Community College is excited to continue its successful partnerships with our sister colleges in the East Valley and industry to develop micro-credentials to help students quickly gain necessary skills to enter or advance in the workforce," said Mesa Community College Interim President Lori Berquam, Ph.D. "The focus on readying talent for careers in information technology and advanced manufacturing will serve our students and our community for both the short- and long-term."

"This regional collaboration will define skills gaps with industry partners and design short-form educational pathways to fill identified workforce gaps in our community," said Rio Salado College President Kate Smith. "We are honored to partner together with the Community College Growth Engine Fund to address the rapidly changing needs in our community."

"Learner attitudes about school and work are shifting, employers are at the table looking for new solutions, and community colleges are on the brink of change," Dr. Lisa Larson, Head of the Community College Growth Engine Fund said. "There has never been a more pressing moment to figure out what the next generation of community colleges are and, importantly, how to get there. So far, we've seen firsthand how the Fund's micro-pathway model and design process can serve as a gateway to community college transformation."

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