New partnership, grant to connect education to workforce needs in Kentucky

Complete College America (CCA) announced today a $550,000 grant from Lumina Foundation to help equip Kentucky students to successfully transition from higher education into the workforce.

In response to the statewide imperative for Kentucky’s colleges and universities to dramatically increase student success and eliminate attainment gaps, CCA will partner with the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education (CPE) to work with the state’s two- and four-year institutions. The grant will support CCA in implementing their Purpose First strategies, which aim to create clear connections between labor needs, students’ coursework and their career goals, particularly for underrepresented minorities.

“Kentucky has taken great strides to connect higher education degrees and credentials to the workforce,” said Dr. Aaron Thompson, CPE’s president. “The partnership with CCA to implement Purpose First strategies in Kentucky will accelerate this work and result in clearer pathways to gainful employment, especially for our minority and low-income students. I’m excited to get the work started.”

To ensure greater social mobility for low-income students, whether high school graduates or displaced workers, institutions of higher learning must provide relevant information associated with all careers and link academic pathways to all programs of study, clearly identifying connections between learning outcomes and job competencies for students.

“We are very pleased to support this exciting new partnership between Complete College America and the Kentucky Council for Postsecondary Education,” said Lumina Foundation Vice President Debra Humphreys. “The work will build on the progress Kentucky has already made and will ensure that all students have the advising and support they need to choose a program of study that not only aligns with their personal goals and interests but also with regional workforce demands.”

Kentucky has been a member of CCA’s 48-member alliance for 10 years. The alliance comprises states, systems, institutional consortia and partner organizations taking bold actions to significantly increase the number of students successfully completing college.

“Engaging students with their choices of certificates or degrees and highlighting the connections between what they are learning and their future careers is crucial to student success, especially for low-income students, first generation college-going students, adult learners and minoritized students,” said Dr. Yolanda Watson Spiva, president of CCA. “Complete College America looks forward to partnering with higher education and workforce leaders across Kentucky to develop strategies that will enhance the good work already underway and support more students to complete a degree of value.”


About Complete College America

Established in 2009, Complete College America is a bold national advocate for dramatically increasing college completion rates and closing equity gaps by working with states, systems, institutions, and partners to scale highly effective structural reforms and promote policies that improve student success. CCA envisions a nation where all students, regardless of race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, or familial educational achievement have equal opportunities to access and complete a college education or credential of value because postsecondary institutions, policy makers, and systems of higher education welcome, invest in, and support these students through and to an on-time completion. Learn more at

About Lumina Foundation

Lumina Foundation is an independent, private foundation in Indianapolis that is committed to making opportunities for learning beyond high school available to all. We envision a system that is easy to navigate, delivers fair results, and meets the nation’s need for talent through a broad range of credentials. Our goal is to prepare people for informed citizenship and for success in a global economy.

About Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education

The Council on Postsecondary Education is leading transformation in our workforce, economy and quality of life by advancing progress in educational attainment across Kentucky. As the state’s higher education coordinating agency, we champion high-quality, inclusive and affordable postsecondary opportunities that prepare students for civic engagement and sustainable careers. That’s why we are undertaking the 60x30 goal, an ambitious effort to raise the percentage of working-age Kentuckians with a postsecondary degree or certificate to 60% by the year 2030. At CPE, we believe that higher education matters – for everyone.