The American Council on Education (ACE) has received a $500,000 grant from Walmart to help working adults gain access to postsecondary education and economic opportunities through the use of digital resources, such as learning and employment records (LERs) and blockchain.
LERs – which allow tracking of work, earnings, skills, and credentials – can document, verify, and transmit qualifications between employers, learners, and institutions, rather than using a third-party entity.
This yearlong project will initiate a national systems data collection process for credentials, employers, and transfer equivalencies, housed within ACE’s Prior Learning Network. ACE will also work with community college systems to support the acceptance of digital credentials and LERs.
“Community colleges are key to this work because meeting learner needs requires buy-in from institutions well-versed in the intersection of work and learning,” said Michele Spires, ACE assistant vice president of Learning Evaluation. “Also, they are uniquely situated to assist part-time and working learners from underserved backgrounds and share visions connected to student equity, achievement, economic vitality, accessibility, and success.”
The grant will also fund a report that includes toolkits incorporating strategies for community college systems that will be important to sector-wide adoption of LERs and blockchains. The report and key takeaways will be presented at ACE2023 in D.C.