Posted: September 30, 2019

Contact: Doug Anderson, doug.anderson@MinnState.edu, 651-201-1426

Minnesota State Receives Lumina “All Learning Counts” Grant
Program seeks to expand opportunities for adult learners to earn Credit for Prior Learning

ST. PAUL, Minn., Sept. 30, 2019 – Lumina Foundation has awarded Minnesota State a $350,000 grant under its “All Learning Counts” initiative to build transparent pathways to degrees and other credentials for adults, especially for adult learners of color and Native learners. The grant will allow Minnesota State to expand its program of awarding Credit for Prior Learning which can reduce the cost of completing a degree and contribute to student success. 

“Increasing the number of post-traditional adult learners served by our colleges and universities is one of our key strategies for increasing educational attainment in Minnesota and eliminating equity gaps,” said Devinder Malhotra, chancellor of Minnesota State. “This grant will help our colleges and universities address the pressing issues facing adult learners and learners from traditionally underserved populations and help us better meet the state’s need for workforce talent.” 

“Through All Learning Counts, we are recognizing exemplars who want to ensure many more Americans will have skills they need to thrive by earning college degrees, certificates, and industry certifications,” said Haley Glover, the Lumina strategy director who will provide leadership for the grant program. “We need to think in new ways about the recognition of learning after high school. We must see that all college-level learning, regardless of how and where it is gained, can be applied toward meaningful post-high school credentials.” 

Under Credit for Prior Learning, academic credit can be awarded to students who successfully demonstrate college or university-level learning achieved through informal or experiential learning outside of the classroom. Credit for Prior Learning is awarded through sound methods of assessment such as faculty evaluation of learning via challenge exams, the College Level Examination Program (CLEP) or other standardized examinations, reviewing military training or service, or portfolio reviews. Because these credits can be applied to course, program, or degree requirements, they can reduce the student’s cost and decrease the time it takes for a student to obtain a degree. For adults and traditionally underserved populations, Credit for Prior Learning can improve persistence and reinforce the idea that a college credential is within reach. Across Minnesota State, nearly 84,000 students are over the age of 25, and 30% of these are students of color. 

Funding from the All Learning Counts grant will support initiatives by colleges, universities, government, and community partners to broaden the view of Credit for Prior Learning to consider life experience and college level learning of low income and under-represented communities. This includes creating “cross-walks” in which work-based training programs are pre-evaluated by faculty teams for college credit at multiple institutions. Program activities funded by the grant will include building an organization of internal and community-based partners that will provide planning and oversight, share best practices, advise on equity and inclusion, and expand outreach to new and returning adult learners. 

Minnesota State colleges and universities that helped develop the proposal include Inver Hills Community College, Lake Superior College, Metropolitan State University, Minnesota State University, Mankato, Minnesota West Community and Technical College, Riverland Community College, South Central College, and Southwest Minnesota State University. Community-based partners include Adult Basic Education, Goodwill Easter Seals, Project for Pride in Living, Avivo, the Minnesota Office of Higher Education, the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry, and Summit Academy OIC. The Greater Metropolitan Workforce Council is a lead partner, supporting additional outreach and fundraising.  

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

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Minnesota State includes 30 community and technical colleges and seven state universities serving approximately 350,000 students. It is the third-largest system of two-year colleges and four-year universities in the United States.