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2024 CPL Equity Award Winners

The CPL Equity Awards recognize strategies that have been proven to put CPL in reach of key sub-populations and/or increasing their CPL-credit earning.

The Council for Adult and Experiential Learning (CAEL) and the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE) announce the inaugural winners of the Credit for Prior Learning (CPL) Equity Awards, recognizing strategies that have been proven to put CPL in reach of key adult learner populations and/or increase their CPL credit-earning. 

2024 CPL Equity Champion ($10,000 prize)

⭐ Miami Dade College (FL)
A comprehensive approach with consistent implementation, data capture, workforce connections, and leveraging technology to create new efficiencies. 

Evidence of impact: 
A 366% increase in CPL awards over a two-year period, with CPL credit-earning reflecting proportional representation of Black and Latino/a students.

2024 CPL Equity Rising Stars ($5,000 prize each)

⭐ Lehman College (NY)
Pilot testing new approaches, engaging faculty, and focusing on regular review of disaggregated CPL data. 

Evidence of impact:
Dramatic increase in CPL credit-earning, with 93% of CPL students being students of color.


⭐ West Los Angeles College (CA)
Cross-college planning and oversight, data infrastructure, and intentional expansion within female-dominated technical career programs.

Evidence of impact:
A seven-fold increase in CPL credit-earning, with a narrowing of the gender gap and an increase in CPL credit among Latino/a students.

Honorable Mentions ($1,000 prize each)

⭐ Salt Lake Community College (UT)  and Capella University (MN) had clear goals for expanding access to CPL across their institutions, with growing evidence that these efforts are achieving important results.

⭐ Metro State University (MN) and City University of New York (CUNY) School of Professional Studies provided unique and creative applications for CPL that hold promise and can serve as important models for expanding access to postsecondary learning to all.  

Thematic Highlights Among Awardees in their Efforts to Close CPL Equity Gaps

  • Collecting data to explore the problem
  • Focusing on professional/occupational programs
  • Raising the visibility of CPL
  • Addressing policy across the institution
  • Engaging the whole enterprise
  • Defining equity specifically for the institutional context
  • Leveraging data systems to track progress and success
  • Using CPL creatively to expand access to diverse student populations 


Download the CAEL-WICHE publication, Closing Equity Gaps in Credit for Prior Learning: Tools and Strategies to Recognize All Learning. The Winners of the Inaugural 2024 CAEL-WICHE Credit for Prior Learning Equity Awards and Their Lessons for the Field

Download the CAEL-WICHE Publication

About the Award


Credit for Prior Learning (CPL) is a powerful tool that supports adult learner engagement and completion, particularly for underrepresented populations in postsecondary education. CAEL and WICHE’s research has found, however, that many of the populations that can most benefit from CPL — particularly Black and lower-income adult learners — are those least likely to have earned such credit. These findings have been discussed in 2020’s The PLA Boost: Results from a 72-Institution Targeted Study of Prior Learning Assessment and Equity Paradoxes in The PLA Boost: Adult Student Outcomes and Opportunity Unrealized for Some Students despite the Potential for Improved Credit Completion.

CAEL and WICHE are following up this research with the inaugural CPL Equity Awards, which recognize strategies that have been proven to put CPL in reach of key sub-populations and/or increasing their CPL-credit earning. The goal is to identify effective strategies that can be replicated by other institutions focused on improving equity in their CPL programs. 

Copy of 2024 CAEL WICHE CPL Equity Award Seal

Target Populations of Interest

Equity means different things in different contexts. For the purposes of the 2024 CPL Equity Awards, CAEL and WICHE identified the following populations that are of particular interest:

  • Black or African American adult learners
  • Native American or Alaska Native adult learners
  • Hispanic adult learners (of any race) 
  • Low-income adult learners
  • Adult learners at community colleges

Other populations can be identified and explained as target populations from an equity standpoint. One example might be students working in retail or hospitality fields who are pursuing postsecondary credentials to improve their economic mobility. Another example could be adult learners in rural areas with narrower career pathway opportunities.

Send questions about this award to Becky Klein-Collins at bklein@cael.org