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CAEL Newsroom

CAEL Receives Funding to Further Support Texas Institutions in the Latino Adult Student Success Academy

Adult Learner Academies provide colleges and universities technical assistance, diagnostic tools, professional development, and more 

INDIANAPOLIS – In partnership with Excelencia in Education, the Council for Adult and Experiential Learning (CAEL) is pleased to introduce the next cohort of its Adult Learner Academy. The Academy model is a collaborative process that combines proprietary benchmarking and other data analysis, technical assistance, and peer-to-peer learning to support the innovation of new strategies for supporting adult learners and other traditionally underserved students. Institutions participating in the new Academy cohort include Austin Community College, South Texas College, Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, and The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. All are Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs). 

The new Academy, which will run for two years, is made possible by grants from Greater Texas Foundation and Strada Education Network. Functioning as an extension of CAEL’s inaugural Latino Adult Student Success (LASS) Academy, which began in 2018 and concluded last year, this second round of funding will help participating institutions build on their earlier Academy achievements. 

During the prior LASS Academy, experts from CAEL and Excelencia

  • Assessed how participants were meeting the needs of adult students, Latino adult students in particular; 
  • Identified sustainable institutional improvements;  
  • Helped faculty and staff establish systems for capturing vital data for tracking the impact of each institution’s strategies; and 
  • Enhanced support services for Latino adult students.

Despite disruptions from the COVID-19 pandemic, positive trends in key student success metrics emerged.

For example, the aggregate LASS Academy cohort score increased in each measurement category of CAEL’s Adult Learner 360, a diagnostic tool that assesses institutional effectiveness in serving adult learners. In addition, Latino adults completed more credits, on average, vs. non-Latino adult students. Between the 2014-2015 and 2019-2020 academic years, the average credits completed per Latino adult learner enrolled at the Academy institutions and the aggregate credits completed by Academy Latino adult learners increased by 18.1% and 18.9%, respectively.

“Despite operating during the height of the pandemic’s disruptions, the Academy generated meaningful momentum, strengthening existing adult learner resources and inspiring new ones,” said Beth Doyle, senior vice president of initiatives, solutions, and operations for CAEL. “This is a golden opportunity to accelerate that momentum, and we thank Greater Texas Foundation and Strada Education Network for making it possible.” 

“We cannot hope to achieve our statewide educational and workforce goals without a focus on Latino adults,” said Sue McMillin, president and CEO of Greater Texas Foundation. “We are excited to continue to support the LASS Academy to empower this cohort of HSIs to more effectively support their Latino adult students through completion of a postsecondary credential.”

This extension of the LASS Academy work in Texas will focus on areas where the greatest challenges – and opportunities – arose during the initial LASS Academy. They include increasing Latino adult enrollment, awarding credit for prior learning to Latino adults to accelerate degree completion, improving retention of Latino adult students through personalized coaching, and helping Latino adult students navigate career pathways. 

To support these objectives, CAEL will provide two years of technical assistance to each institution, including recurring onsite and virtual sessions and focused support for data reporting and program evaluation. CAEL’s engagement will also include organizing annual meetings to convene representatives of each institution to foster the exchange of best practices and lessons learned, a key success factor during the prior phase. The Academy will once again include the use of CAEL’s Adult Learner 360 diagnostic tool with each of the four participating institutions and stipends to support costs of their participation in the cohort. 

Excelencia in Education will ensure content is tailored to maximize its impact on Latino student success. They will also share the latest evidence-based practices for serving Latino students as technical assistance is provided to the institutions. “The institutions in this cohort are all committed to intentionally serving Latino students, especially Latino adults,” said Deborah Santiago, co-founder and CEO for Excelencia. “Their efforts will raise the bar of what is possible for colleges in Texas and across the nation to ensure Latino adults earn a quality college education.” 

“The continued collaboration we foster among the four original Texas institutions that participated in our inaugural LASS Academy will strengthen the community of practice we built to drive systemic changes and data-driven interventions,” said Rafael Pasillas, director of initiatives for CAEL. “The findings that emerge are sure to yield insight useful to the 100 HSIs in Texas and beyond, and CAEL stands ready to share them broadly in support of the equitable economic mobility that is possible only when adult learners thrive.”

According to Excelencia, there are more than 550 HSIs and more than 300 Emerging HSIs in the United States. Although there are nearly 1.5 million Latino undergraduates enrolled in postsecondary education programs, according to Lumina Foundation's Stronger Nation report, Latino graduation rates are the lowest of any ethnicity, with only 25.5% of adults 25 years or older holding an associate degree or higher. One hundred HSIs are located within the state of Texas, where, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, nearly 40% of the population are Hispanic or Latino. 

About CAEL
Recognizing that adult learners are the backbone of the U.S. economy, CAEL helps forge a clear, viable connection between education and career success, providing solutions that promote sustainable and equitable economic growth. CAEL opens doors to opportunity in collaboration with workforce and economic developers; postsecondary educators; employers and industry groups; and foundations and other mission-aligned organizations. By engaging with these stakeholders, we foster a culture of innovative, lifelong learning that helps individuals and their communities thrive. A national membership organization established in 1974, CAEL is a part of Strada Collaborative, a mission-driven nonprofit. Learn more at cael.org and stradacollaborative.org.

About Excelencia in Education
Excelencia in Education accelerates Latino student success in higher education by promoting Latino student achievement, conducting analysis to inform educational policies, and advancing institutional practices while collaborating with those committed and ready to meet the mission. Launched in 2004 in the nation’s capital, Excelencia has established a network of results-oriented educators and policymakers to address the U.S. economy’s needs for a highly educated workforce and engaged civic leaders. For more information, visit: EdExcelencia.org

About Greater Texas Foundation
Greater Texas Foundation is a private foundation based in Bryan, Texas that supports efforts to ensure all Texas students are prepared for, have access to, persist in, and complete a postsecondary education. Since its 2001 inception, the foundation has approved more than $115 million in grants to support Texas students. For more information, visit www.greatertexasfoundation.org.

About Strada Education Network
Strada Education Network is a nonprofit dedicated to helping people make the most of education and training after high school to achieve career and life goals. We conduct research, make charitable grants and social impact investments, and support organizations that directly serve students and workers. Join us in learning and sharing practices that make a measurable impact in career exploration, guidance and work-based learning. Visit us at stradaeducation.org.