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Our Work

Public Policy & State Strategies

Empowering Adults: Our Vision for Economic Advancement Through Public Policy and State Strategies


Public Policy

For more than 50 years, CAEL has been at the forefront of the paradigm shift toward recognizing the unique needs of adult learners. Historically much of CAEL’s work has centered on assisting institutions of higher education, workforce and economic development organizations, and employers in adapting their practices and policies to increase recruitment, persistence, and success for adults seeking to upskill. These decades of experiences across the country have revealed numerous best practices and lessons learned that have important implications for public policy.

As our country wrestles with issues around student debt and affordability, race and gender inequities, postsecondary education enrollment declines, labor shortages in key industries, generational poverty and inequality, and global economic competitiveness, there is increasing recognition that policies that target adults result in economic gains for individuals and businesses alike. 

Through engagement with our members, partners, initiatives, and staff, we focus on these guiding priorities in our work to advance policies at the state, local, and federal levels:

  • Centering the Adult Learner
  • Enhancing Accessibility Through Affordability
  • Unleashing the Power of Transformative Partnerships

State Strategies

CAEL regularly works with state governments and other statewide systems to help them achieve their goals around aligning learning and work, including increasing adult postsecondary attainment, workforce development in specific industry sectors, and more. Through these initiatives, CAEL leverages its membership, research, and subject-matter expertise to solve problems, break down silos, and encourage systems change. Lessons learned from these projects are then used to improve and inform our work across the country.

Examples of CAEL’s work with states or state systems include: 

Recent Policy Highlights