Partnerships between Community Colleges and Nonprofits (C2E Partnerships)


Working Together And Making A Difference: Virginia Western Community College And Goodwill Industries Of The Valleys Partnership Case Study Report

WorkingTogetherMakingDifferenceThis report is aimed at informing community college and workforce leaders of best practices for launching and expanding partnerships to serve students more effectively. Co-published by AspenWSI and Achieving the Dream in November 2015, the report reveals the stages of forming a new partnership, using a case study of the partnership between Virginia Western Community College and Goodwill Industries of the Valleys.

Courses to Employment: Partnering to Create Paths to Education and Careers

C2EThis publication summarizes research from AspenWSI’s Courses to Employment project, which studied how six community college-nonprofit partnerships work together to help low-income adults succeed in the classroom and the labor market. The report provides an overview of the approach and strategies these partnerships use, how these partnerships are structured in terms of institutional roles and responsibilities, and what factors influence how these partnerships are structured. It also describes the education and employment outcomes participating students achieved during the Courses to Employment project.

A Snapshot of Courses to Employment Partnerships: Results from a National Survey of Nonprofit-Community College Collaborations

CTEThis publication discusses findings from a 2013 national survey AspenWSI conducted of nonprofit- community college partnerships that are working to help students complete their educational goals and obtain employment. The report provides an overview of the various strategies and activities of these collaborations; including the the student populations they serve, the industry sectors they target and how they engage employers, and the funding streams and resources they leverage. The report also summarizes survey respondents’ views on the benefits of implementing partnerships as well as the challenges encountered in implementation.

Courses To Employment Update (Number 1) Beyond Graduation: Promoting Post-Program Engagement and Advancement

BeyondGraduationUsing the experiences of organizations in the WSI-managed Courses to Employment demonstration, this publication explores why and how some of these partnerships work to maintain relationships with adult participants after they have finished their training. It also presents a number of the challenges to developing and sustaining effective approaches, and provides various points to consider in designing a long-term engagement strategy. One partnership in the demonstration project – Capital IDEA in Austin, Texas – has made a particularly strong commitment to long-term engagement of participants both during and after training; its story is highlighted in the paper.

Courses To Employment Update (Number 2) The Price of Persistence: How Nonprofit – Community College Partnerships Manage and Blend Diverse Funding Streams

PricePersistenceBased on findings from the Courses to Employment (C2E) Demonstration Project, this publication highlights how workforce programs and partnerships blend multiple funding streams to meet students’ individual needs and address their unique barriers in order to allow them to complete their educations and obtain a better job. The publication draws on data from C2E partnerships’ financial records, and interviews with program leaders about their funding and service strategies as well as focus groups with participants about the supports they received. The diversified funding strategy is illuminated through the stories of three students that persisted in school and completed training with the help of the supportive services they received from a C2E partnership. Using these three stories, the report tracks the source of each of these supports, discusses how the partnerships managed these resources, and discusses the different funding and policy environments that C2E partnerships experienced while leveraging these different funding streams. The publication also discusses the challenges and opportunities in developing such a diversified funding strategy and highlights the organizational capacities needed to manage and implement this funding structure.

Courses To Employment Update (Number 3) Training Futures: A case study of a nonprofit-community college partnership

TrainingFuturesThis publication describes how Northern Virginia Family Service, a nonprofit organization, and Northern Virginia Community College partner together to provide Training Futures, a six-month training program designed to help low-income adults in Northern Virginia start new careers in office administration and advance towards degrees and certificates in college. We share information about participants and the education and employment outcomes they achieve, program design, recruitment strategies, curriculum, training approach, services provided, employer involvement and funding. We also discuss the history of the program and partnership, partners’ roles and responsibilities, key staff members, planning processes, data management, and key innovations and lessons learned from the partnership.

Courses To Employment Update (Number 4) Helping Adult Learners Navigate Community College and the Labor Market

HelpingAdultLearnersThis publication explores the challenges adult learners face as they attempt to enter community college, persist to completing a certificate or degree, and successfully transition to employment. The report shares detailed examples of these challenges including how some adult learners struggle with financial aid and registration processes, inadequate career counseling, insufficient support services, and a lack of professional networks they need to get a job after college among others. The report also offers numerous examples of strategies nonprofit-community college partnerships use to help adult learners overcome hurdles such as these.

Initial Findings from Courses to Employment on Students’ Education and Employment Outcomes

Hardcover book isolated on white background with color variants.During te Courses to Employment demonstration project, AspenWSI conducted participant outcomes assessments on students served by nonprofit-community college partnerships. These assessments looked at students’ demographics and their education and employment experiences prior to and after their participation in a training or education program. For some programs, students’ employment and education data were also captured while students were in training in order to observe interim milestones and progress. The outcomes reports include detailed statistics, tables, and charts on students’ outcomes.

A Resource Guide for College/Career Navigators or Those Interested in Starting a Navigator Program

Hardcover book isolated on white background with color variants.A growing body of practice and data suggests that college/career navigation assistance programs are drivers of student retention, completion of training programs, and employment advancement for nontraditional students. To aggregate resources and tools that are available on this topic, AspenWSI developed an annotated bibliography that contains links to 28 different resources and guides for college/career navigators.

How C2E Partnerships Work

toolsHow do community college-nonprofit partners plan their work together? What roles and responsibilities do each play? Who are key staff involved in these partnerships? What types of student data do partners need to know if their work is effective? Tools in this area answer some of these questions and include planning and scheduling tools, job descriptions, data-sharing waivers, and Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs).

Job Descriptions and Staff Responsibilities

Memoranda of Understanding and Partnership Agreements

  • Carreras En Salud Details the roles and responsibilities of partners engaged in a collaborative effort to help the Latino community in Chicago access education and employment opportunities in health care.
  • College Preparatory Academy Outlines the agreement between Austin Community College (ACC) and Capital IDEA (CI) for the College Preparatory Academy, a special ACC program of basic skills instruction, test-taking strategies and study skills for CI-supported students. Includes expected outcomes and budget.
  • Continuing Education Credit for Coursework This MOU describes the agreement between Capital IDEA (CI) and Austin Community College to provide CI students with continuing education credits for their participation in customized training through the College Preparatory Academy and Vision, Initiative, Perseverance (VIP) course.
  • Training Futures This MOU details the agreement between Northern Virginia Community College and Northern Virginia Family Service for Training Futures, a 17-credit program to prepare for careers in professional office settings. Students are co-enrolled in both institutions, and the agreement describes revenue-sharing.

Partnership Planning Tools

  • Training Futures Project Management (Completed) This completed worksheet provides an example of the goals, activities, timelines, and assigned responsibilities for one period for Training Futures, partnership between Northern Virginia Family Service and Northern Virginia Community College.
  • Training Futures Project Management (Blank) This blank worksheet is the tool that Northern Virginia Family Service and Northern Virginia Community College use to plan goals, activities, timelines and assign roles and responsibilities to individuals who are involved with implementing the Training Futures program for each session the program is delivered.
  • Process for Forming Co-Enrollment Alliances This document details, step-by-step, Northern Virginia Community College’s process for creating a partnership with a nonprofit organization using the college’s co-enrollment training model. It is based on the college’s partnership with Northern Virginia Family Service on the Training Futures program.
  • How to Build Bridge Programs Follow this link to learn how Carreras en Salud describes their partnership’s approach to transitioning low-income Latino populations into healthcare career pathways and higher paying employment.

Student Agreements and Waiver Forms

  • Capital IDEA Release Authorizations This set of documents includes examples of agreements between Capital IDEA (CI) and students they support. Authorizations include one detailing student responsibilities; a waiver that permits CI to obtain college-provided transcripts, financial application status, grades; and a waiver that permits CI to obtain and share data detailing individual students’ employment and income with employers and public workforce agencies.

C2E Curricula and Lesson Plans

toolsPartnerships often implement curricula that integrate learning objectives that are usually delivered separately or not at all in traditional college programming. Such learning objectives may be related to technical skills, academic developmental skills, job search, professional networking skills, and communication skills, among others. They may also include objectives such as helping students improve their self-esteem and motivation. Tools in this area include descriptions of curricula, descriptions of innovative pedagogical approaches, lesson plans and other teaching resources.

Curricula, Lesson Plans and Instructional Resources

  • Community College 101 This document outlines the curriculum and topics covered in a course provided by Goodwill Industries of Seattle to students who are interested in entering a vocational skills training program at a community college.
  • Vision, Initiative, Perseverance (VIP) syllabus This syllabus outlines the curriculum and topics covered in VIP peer support sessions that are provided by Capital IDEA staff to students they support in college. VIP sessions are designed to help students build the personal, professional, and academic skills they need to succeed in college and the workplace.
  • Training Futures This one-page document details the 25-week Training Futures curriculum to prepare students for careers in office administration.
  • How to Build Bridge Programs Follow this link to learn how Carreras en Salud describes their partnership’s approach to transitioning low-income Latino populations into healthcare career pathways and higher paying employment.

Innovative Pedagogical Approaches

  • College Preparatory Academy This document describes an intensive, 12-week boot camp that provides prospective Austin Community College students supported by Capital IDEA with instruction in basic skills, study skills and test-taking strategies.
  • General Service Technician I-BEST Approach This document details an instructional model used by the General Service Technician (GST) program at Shoreline Community College in Seattle. Students in the I-BEST GST program receive simultaneous contextualized basic skills and technical skills instruction by a teaching team.
  • Imaginal Education This document describes the training approach used by Training Futures in Virginia that focuses on the development of participants’ skills as well as the transformation of their self-image.

C2E Partnership Costs

toolsCommunity college-nonprofit partnerships incur expenses in their work together, and they often blend multiple funding streams to cover these expenses and support their students. Tools in this area include documents that show partnerships’ budgets, revenue sources and detailed accounts of expenses.


  • Carreras En Salud This is a detailed annual budget for the Carreras en Salud partnership in Chicago. It includes budgeted costs for staff, instruction, space, partnership meetings, and marketing for the partnership, which provides opportunities for training and careers in the nursing field for the city’s Latino community.
  • College Preparatory Academy This is the budget for an intensive twelve-week course in basic skills, study skills and test-taking strategies. The course is provided by Austin Community College to classes of 50 Capital IDEA-supported students each term.