Strategic Partnerships

student and instructor working on an automobile

Who We Are

The Strategic Partnerships staff provide connections and expertise to support and advocate for the success of adult and other underrepresented learners from within the Workforce and Economic Development Division.

Our staff is committed to creating a student-centered culture that focuses on the many assets students' bring to our system. Our work and goals directly align with Equity 2030 - we are working to eliminate equity gaps. With a focus on college access, we work toward lowering the boundaries between agencies, programs, and funding streams to maximize the resources available to students. We support community-based organizations and local and regional governments to better serve learners.

What We Do

  • Advocacy includes creating opportunity for adult learners and those supporting them to increase their influence to ensure Minnesota State policies and practices support all learners. We also consult with local partners to understand organizational cultural differences and advocate for changes to help de-mystify the language and practices of higher education.

  • Guidelines and best practice work engages our external partners and those who support learners’ foundational education and workforce development goals, and in working with colleges and university academic and student services staff, we learn of barriers to student progress. To achieve Equity 2030, we need to continuously look for unintended consequences that may result in barriers to learners and find creative ways to reduce or resolve this impact.

  • Grant funding and collaboration efforts focus on strategic partnerships with staff reviewing private, state, and federal grant funding opportunities, and identifying those that support collaboration, experimentation, and expanded pathways for under-represented adult learners.  We seek to secure funding and support others' grant writing efforts serving as a match-maker between organizations looking to build education partnerships and our colleges and universities.

Projects and Initiatives

Quality Credentials Academy Work

DEED, OHE, Minnesota State, UMN, and additional stakeholders are engaged in a 15-month project to create a policy framework that supports non-degree and degree credential attainment with a focus on equity. This initiative moves forward quality and transparency for learners pursuing a postsecondary degree and non-degree credentials, addressing the need for smooth transitions that increase stackability and portability of valued skills (i.e., skills that can continue building and skills that are recognized universally). This plan will be implemented over the calendar year, with the currently anticipated launch of policy focused on quality credential attainment in the Spring of 2023. Through this work, we hope to advance basic consumer protections and quality learning opportunities in Minnesota.

Non-credit to Credit Alignment Lab (NCAL)

A small group of colleges, universities, and the system office, with support from ECMC Foundation, Association of Community College Trustees (ACCT) and Education Strategy Group, are implementing the Noncredit and Credit Alignment Lab (NCAL), a two-year initiative to develop new or improved pathways between non-credit and credit programs. This initiative will leverage the framework for non-credit and credit pathway alignment in Educational Strategy Group’s guide, A More Unified Community College. Minnesota is one of fourteen institutions/systems participating in this two-year initiative.

State Financial Aid for Quality Non-Degree Credentials (QNDC)

Minnesota State, again working with the Office of Higher Education and Department of Employment and Economic Development, is working to address financial aid gaps for learners, specifically looking at the policy implication of financial assistance for non-credit credential attainment. Work will include a multi-state benchmark review and looking internally at policy and funding sources and will benefit from the integration of training program data in the Statewide Longitudinal Education Data System (SLEDS) to allow for better evaluation and understanding of the combined education and training systems in the state. 

Credential Engine/ WIOA Eligible Training Provider List (ETPL)

Beginning in 2019, Minnesota State, Office of Higher Education, and Department of Employment and Economic Development began working with the national credential transparency organization, Credential Engine. This work culminated in the publishing of Minnesota academic and workforce education programs on through an API with an expanded Eligible Training Provider List hosted by DEED and in compliance with federal WIOA. We continue to work with Credential Engine and the Midwest Higher Education Compact on issues of expanding credential transparency, increasing the portability of non-credit credentials, universal transcripts, and potential listing of education pathways.

Minnesota State, along with representatives of Labor and Industry, k-12 Education, Adult Basic Education, and the Governor’s Office, participated in two National Governor’s Association learning labs to identify opportunities to increase access and participation across our different education systems.  After significant effort to map work-based learning in Minnesota and various access points, Minnesota State added a work-based learning web page, including links and references to our partners.  Currently, this group communicates on an as-needed basis. 

What is Work-Based Learning?

Test-Drive a Career With Work-Based Learning