Past projects and themes of CLP’s work

Career Ladders Project has contributed to numerous initiatives to help build career pathways for students and forge workforce development policies that address the needs of employers with the goals of pursuing equity and increasing opportunities for all Californians. We collaborate with state leadership and policy makers to expand and replicate successful projects. And we identify and help to implement policy changes to support the most promising new practices.

Career Advancement Academies

The Career Advancement Academies enabled underserved Californians – including students who were the first in their families to attend college and students from low-income families or communities of color – to enroll in higher education and pursue credentials related to workforce and industry needs. Operating from 2007 to 2017, the CAAs aimed to increase the supply of middle-skill workers by serving underprepared  adults ages 18 to 30 whose reading, writing, and math skills shut them out of postsecondary education and high-wage jobs. CAAs supported students by building foundational skills for completing postsecondary education and entering a career.

Community College Pathways for Former Foster Youth

Community College Pathways for Foster Youth (CCP) was a statewide initiative designed to improve college and career outcomes for former foster youth at 11 California community colleges. It linked community colleges across California, with the goal of supporting former foster youth to achieve their educational goals and access careers with family-sustaining wages and advancement opportunities.

Each year, almost 4,000 youth emancipate from — “age out” of — California’s foster care system. These youth are particularly vulnerable, facing enormous social, economic, and educational challenges, and many struggle to enter and succeed in postsecondary education.

As the coordinating partner in CCP, we provided technical assistance and professional development, working with colleges individually and collectively to expand and deepen their work with former  foster youth.  Through this and other initiatives, we helped improve campus services for former foster youth and identify structural and systemic barriers to their success. This work led CLP to produce practice and policy recommendations to improve services statewide.CCP was supported by the Walter S. Johnson Foundation, the Stuart Foundation, and the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.

California Career Pathways Trust (CCPT)

In July 2014, the California Legislature passed and the Governor signed into law the California Education Code, sections 53010 through 53016, and the Budget Act of 2014, Statutes 2014, creating the California Career Pathways Trust (CCPT). Funds in the amount of $250 million will be made available to school districts, county superintendents of schools, direct-funded charter schools, regional occupational centers or programs operated by a joint powers authority, and community college districts in the form of one-time competitive grants.

The Career Ladders Project provides technical assistance to a few of the awarded CCPT sites with a focus on high school to college transitioning, dual enrollment strategies, improved placement, and career pathway development.

Transitions from foster care, alternative schools, and incarceration

With funding from the Walter S. Johnson Foundation, CLP supported the creation of Gateway Programs to connect disadvantaged youth and adults to postsecondary education and high-wage, high-growth career pathways. Partnerships created in this work included Workforce Investment Boards, community colleges, social service agencies, community based organizations, and foundations. Each Gateway Program included:

  • 14-18 week intensive learning community
  • 12 college credits (216 hours)
  • Intensive English and math skills
  • In-class counselor
  • Financial aid
  • Social support and case management
  • Orientation to career and educational opportunities
  • Transition to post-secondary training in high wage, high growth career pathway, certificate or AA/AAS degree program.
  • Targeted industries: allied health, biotechnology manufacturing, construction and other skilled trades (including aviation, automotive and heavy equipment mechanics), energy and petrochemicals, financial services.

Elements that supported sustainability:

  • Community college per capita support
  • WIA adult and youth training resources
  • Social service agency in/kind support

Gateway Programs at Fresno City College and Los Medanos College were featured on TV news stations.

Information Communications Technologies Study

The Latino Institute for Corporate Inclusion and Career Ladders Project conducted an Information and Communications Technology (ICT) education and workforce study.  Supported by AT&T, and focused on Latinx and African American students, this ICT study examined how California college and career pathways could  lead to increased workforce diversity.

ICT encompasses everything related to computing, software, information, networking and communications technologies. The information gathered through this study will prove invaluable for California employers, enabling them to plan for their future workforce, develop potential partnerships with educational institutions, and inform their approach to education and training in this sector.

CLP developed an ICT report on labor needs based on information from industry partners and education and workforce development organizations. It highlighted employer and labor market data to understand industry pipelines and projected trends, and it examined community college and California State University offerings for students from communities that are underrepresented in ICT industries.

For more information about this project, please contact Luis Chavez, at, or 510.268.0566. (The institute has merged with the Americas Partnership/Sociedad de las Américas, A.C.)

San Mateo County Community College District Initiative

We collaborated with the San Mateo County Community College District and its three colleges — Cañada College, College of San Mateo, and Skyline College — to improve the student experience and college completion rates.

This involved three major strategies:

  1. more accurately placing students in English and math with the use of multiple measures,
  2. improving early college experience by increasing early credit offerings and
  3. offering courses and programs in a more structured and coherent manner.

ICT/Digital Media Pathway work with SAP and East Bay cities

Building on our relationships with Oakland Unified School District and Berkeley City College, and thanks to an innovative grant from SAP, CLP collaboratively planned and piloted the first west coast SAP 9-14 Information Communications Technology (ICT)/Digital Media Pathway.

SAP seeks to develop critical talent and increase participation and success for students from underrepresented communities. SAP has co-designed with K-14 faculty and staff the development of an innovative virtual mentoring and work-based learning platform with nonprofit iCouldbe.

Concurrent Courses Initiative

Funded through June 2011 by the James Irvine Foundation, the Concurrent Courses Initiative (CCI) was managed and evaluated by the Community College Research Center at Teachers College at Columbia University. It aimed to demonstrate how dual enrollment programs can enhance college and career pathways for low-income youth who are struggling academically or who come from communities historically underrepresented in higher education.

CCI supported eight secondary and postsecondary partnerships in California developing career-focused dual enrollment programs. Career Ladders Project assisted the partners to implement dual enrollment, exchange effective practices, and identify common challenges and emergent solutions.

Linking After-School Employment to Careers

Following the passage of Proposition 49, California made a major commitment to after-school programming; and the availability of After School Education and Safety (ASES) funds led to a surge in after-school programs and created an estimated 12,000 new after-school jobs.

CLP worked with the California Community College Chancellor’s Office to foster partnerships and synergy between the after-school provider community and community colleges in California. Working with other state agencies, educational institutions, workforce development, and community organizations, the colleges and after-school community collaborated in developing a high-quality workforce and high-quality after-school programming.

Linking after-school employment to continuing career pathways in related fields such as education, youth development or other public services gives community college students interested in these fields the opportunity to try out working with youth, gain valuable work experience, and contribute to their communities. After-school employment complements the college-going schedule, enabling community college students to work as after-school employees while pursing their further education.

Promoting a culture of college-going and continued career advancement can strengthen after-school programs, raise aspirations of school-age youth, and address the growing workforce gaps in public service, education, and other occupations serving youth.

CLP's early dual enrollment work

Students who participate in high-quality dual enrollment programs are more likely to graduate high school, enter college, and persist in college to completion, according to national research.

CLP is supporting and leading a variety of initiatives to spread access to dual enrollment and other supports for the transition to college, as detailed here.

Find links to some of our earlier work in this field, including the dual enrollment toolkit, below.

California Community Colleges Linked Learning Initiative (CCCLLI)

Students who successfully navigate California community colleges to earn a degree or cer­tificate nearly double their earnings within three years, but less than 50 percent of community college students who seek such credentials complete the process. Completion rates are still lower for African American and Latinx community college students.

The CCC Linked Learning Initiative aims to improve these rates by extending the promise of Linked Learning into postsecondary education. It strengthens connec­tions between Linked Learning high schools and community colleges.

The California Linked Learning District Initiative, a demonstration project funded by the James Irvine Foundation, sup­ported:

  • a system of early outreach and support for Linked Learning Academy students focused on industry-supported community college pathways
  • a transition program that prepares students for postsecondary success in a career pathway program, and
  • ongoing student services and academic support while in college.

CLLDI supported colleges and their high school partners to build dual enrollment, alternative assessment strategies, and con­textualized, articulated coursework and student services support. CLP worked with several California com­munity colleges to document the practices that:

  • foster more intentional educational and career transitions from high school,
  • improve college retention and academic achievement, and
  • improve college and career success for graduates of Linked Learning High School programs.

Establishing clear pathways from high school to the full range of postsecondary opportunities is an essential step in overcoming structural barriers to educational and career advancement. 

High Impact Pathways

HIP was a CLP-guided approach to connect progressive levels of education and prepare students for success in both college and career. The pathways framework links systems of education to in-demand 21st-century skills, addressing the changing needs of students and regional economies.

Online communities of practice

CLP brings together in online discussion groups practitioners working across California to redesign their practices and structures for equity and student success. Members of these “communities of practice” give and receive support online. They engage in dialogue about specific practice areas, discuss practical issues, and share expertise, promising practices, and resources.

Youth Career Technical Education - pathways through high school and community college

Program and pathway mapping

Career pathways maps clarify and align programs and services; they link increasing levels of certification, education, and employment; and they support students in choosing among the opportunities that interest them. Clear career pathways maps — and intersegmental alignment — enable more students to advance through college, attain credentials with labor market value, and earn wages that sustain their families.

CLP offers a mapping toolkit. What is pathway mapping and why do we do it? Click here to read more.

CLP has supported numerous schools, districts, and partnerships to map their programs and pathways. Here are some of the results:

Design it-Build it-Ship it (DBS)

Design it – Build it – Ship it was a four-year, $14.9 million initiative funded by the U.S. Department of Labor in the East Bay under the Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College Career Training (TAACCCT) program.

Adult Education 


When Adult Education Block Grants in 2013, Career Ladders Project began working with a number of regional consortia across California, supporting their strategic planning and implementation.

CLP helped the consortia research and conceptualize their plans and then assisted them in aligning their adult school and community college offerings, pathway development and mapping, and strategic planning. CLP also trained consortia in contextualized teaching and learning and collaborative teaching approaches.

Read more: