Accelerating Opportunity: A Breaking Through Initiative

Workers with higher levels of education and skills tend to have greater earnings than workers with lower levels. In 2013, associate’s degree holders earned about 19 percent more than high school graduates with no college and 65 percent more than workers with less than a high school diploma (CLASP, February 2016). While the need for a skilled and education workforce is increasing, too often, adult education and English language programs are not connected to job training or other postsecondary education programs to help address the challenge.

The core belief of Accelerating Opportunity (AO), a Jobs for the Future managed initiative, is that postsecondary credentials are the gateway to family-supporting wages. AO encouraged states to change the delivery of adult education by allowing community and technical colleges to enroll students in credit career and technical education courses at the same time as they earn their high school credentials, improve their basic academic skills, or build their English language abilities.

As a partner, the NCTN served on the national leadership team to help guide the transformation of how states, adult basic education programs, and community and technical colleges educate low-skilled adults by focusing on comprehensive student support services, accelerated learning, aligning basic skills instruction with technical concepts, and team teaching. Also, the NCTN led the professional development needed for effective integrated career pathway programs. Our contributions include:

  • Developing and offering online courses to support college and career navigators, and team teachers
  • Planning and facilitating peer learning institutes, presenting at national convenings, and providing customized coaching
  • Designing, conducting and disseminating initiative-wide professional development (PD) assessments to guide initiative-wide PD plans and activities
  • Creating customizable train the trainer manuals:


Project Director: Ellen Hewett, Director, National College Transition Network

Funders: Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the U.S. Department of Labor, the Joyce Foundation, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, Kresge Foundation, the Open Society Foundations, the Arthur Blank Foundation, the Woodruff Foundation, the Casey Foundation, and the University of Phoenix Foundation