Community and Technical College Innovations

Over the past decade, governments, foundations, and industry have made significant investments to build the capacity of America’s community and technical colleges, major providers of workforce-related education and training of two years or less. These two-year institutions generally serve more disadvantaged students than their four-year counterparts. These students may have difficulty selecting and completing programs that best meet their interests and lead to labor market success. Community colleges have faced budget cuts since the Great Recession, which has diminished their ability to innovate and better serve the disadvantaged students they enroll. Investments in community colleges have been aimed at reinventing instructional design, building better supports, changing institutional culture, and connecting to the labor market to lead to more successful education and employment outcomes for students.  

The Urban Institute has been at the center of these innovative efforts at community colleges, illuminating critical problems and identifying effective policy and programmatic approaches to solve them. We examine the innovations, partnerships, and systems reforms necessary to help youth and adults succeed in education and training and in the workplace, while meeting the needs of employers to retain workers who possess in-demand skills and credentials. 


The Second Year of Accelerating Opportunity: Implementation Findings from the States and Colleges
March 2015 research report by Theresa Anderson, Lauren Eyster, Robert I. Lerman, Carolyn T. O'Brien, Maureen Conway, Ranita Jain, and Marcela Montes

​Accelerating Opportunity: A Portrait of Students and Their Program Experiences from the 2014 Student Survey
March 2015 research report by Shayne Spaulding and Ananda Martin-Caughey

Implementation of Accelerating Opportunity: Final Implementation Findings with Lessons from the Field
May 2016 research report by Theresa Anderson, Lauren Eyster, Robert I. Lerman, Maureen Conway, Ranita Jain, and Marcela Montes

Community Colleges: Multiple Missions, Diverse Student Bodies, and a Range of Policy Solutions
August 2016 brief by David Baime and Sandy Baum

​Related Projects

Bridging the Gap  |  Accelerating Opportunity  |  Local Workforce System  |  Financing Public Higher Education