WASHINGTON, May 19, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- National nonprofit Education Design Lab today announced the selection of 12 higher education leaders to join the Lab's Designers in Residence program. Spanning a diverse cross-section of communities, institutional positionality, and lived experience and expertise, the Designers in Residence will lean on their collective expertise and work as a design team to co-create a roadmap for colleges to serve as regional change agents leading efforts to close economic and racial opportunity gaps.
"Most of the economic gains created in the decade following the Great Recession went to individuals with a college degree, and that script is playing out again for too many low-income students and workers who have had the fewest resources and least protection from the job losses of the past year," said Dr. Michael Baston, president of Rockland Community College and Designer in Residence. "Rightly so, postsecondary educators are feeling a sense of urgency to leverage learner-centered collaboration to develop innovative new models for supporting students in a rapidly evolving labor and education landscape."
In 2021, 22% fewer students enrolled in higher education than prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, a number that increases to 30% for students from low-income high schools. Simultaneously, 42% of jobs lost during the pandemic may disappear forever, requiring postsecondary education to reimagine how learners are prepared to enter the workforce.
Designers in Residence will tackle this reality by identifying the transformations necessary for higher education systems to build a more equitable future for the new majority learner—learners that higher ed was not designed for and often designed to keep out, including Black, indigenous, and Latinx learners, immigrant learners, first generation college students, and learners from low income backgrounds. Learner-centered design supports the growth, agency, and belonging of all learners as they progress towards their college and career goals. Through this cohort of influential higher education leaders, Designers in Residence will co-create an actionable roadmap for other institutions and innovators seeking to build and scale equitable, learner-centered pathways and partnerships that adapt to an evolving economy.
"Against a backdrop of profound labor market volatility, we're seeing renewed interest from institutions in alternative pathways that can help meet the career and educational needs of low-income workers on an accelerated timeline," said Kathleen deLaski, president and founder of Education Design Lab. "Through the collective expertise of this national network, this project will surface new insights into the ways that colleges can function as integrators between talent and opportunity in our communities."
The members of the Designers in Residence cohort include:
Jairo McMican, Dean of Student Learning/Director of Equity and Pathways, Central Carolina Community College
Ian Roark, Vice President of Workforce Development and Strategic Partnerships, Pima Community College
Stacy Townsley, Vice President of Adult Strategy and Statewide Partnerships, Ivy Tech Community College
Each Designer in Residence will receive individualized technical assistance to support their work on campus and a grant for their home institution upon completion of the program. Designers in Residence will work alongside the Lab in shaping a national discourse, learn and train in the Lab's learner- and employer-centered design process, iterate new strategies for their work, and lead the start of a life-long network of leaders across the country seeking to reshape higher ed and the learn-to-work journey.
The launch and development of this program builds off of the Lab's extensive experience supporting and advising personnel at colleges and universities through ongoing initiatives such as the BRIDGES Rural initiative, the Community College Growth Engine Fund, and the UNCF Career Pathways Initiative. This program is funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and views expressed by the program do not necessarily reflect positions or policies of the foundation.
About Education Design Lab: Education Design Lab is a national nonprofit that designs, tests, and implements unique higher education models and credentials that address the rapidly changing economy and emerging technology opportunities. The Lab demonstrates where technology, rigor and design can improve opportunity for historically underserved learners to maximize their potential in the higher education system.
Education Design Lab works across disciplines and alongside schools, employers, entrepreneurs, government, foundations, nonprofits and innovators. The organization has significant experience managing national and local learning cohorts, working with organizations such as The Michael and Susan Dell Foundation, the United Negro College Fund, Walmart, American Council on Education and the ECMC Foundation. Learn more: www.eddesignlab.org.