California, Hawaii, Idaho, Kentucky, North Carolina, and Ohio receive grants to support state-led efforts to better serve adults seeking education after high school

INDIANAPOLIS – Lumina Foundation has awarded more than $2.5 million in grants to six states supporting adults who want to earn college degrees, certificates, and other quality credentials beyond a high school diploma.

California, Hawaii, Idaho, Kentucky, North Carolina, and Ohio will form the second cohort of Lumina’s Adult Promise effort, a partnership with the State Higher Education Executive Officers Association (SHEEO). Collectively, these states expect to reach at least 2 million adult students and award tens of thousands of new post-high school credentials within the next two years.

Grantees include the foundation for California Community Colleges, the official auxiliary to the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office; the University of Hawaii System; the Idaho State Board of Education; Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education; a partnership between the University of North Carolina System and the North Carolina Community College System; and the Ohio Department of Higher Education. States were selected through a highly competitive grant process that involved 25 applications from 22 states.

These states join the initial cohort of Adult Promise states that Lumina announced in November 2017: Indiana, Maine, Minnesota, Oklahoma, and Washington. To date, Lumina has invested nearly $6.5 million in the Adult Promise effort.

“Serving many more adults with no prior higher-ed experience will be critical to achieving the nation’s goal of 60 percent of working-age Americans having a degree or other high-quality credential by 2025,” said Danette Howard, Lumina’s senior vice president and chief strategy officer. “We are excited more states are investing in efforts to help adults finish their education.”

To receive grants, states must show that they have financial aid for adults in place; a strong commitment to achieving fair and just educational outcomes among people of color; a clear readiness and intention to promote systemic change benefiting adults; and buy-in among stakeholders such as employers, public colleges and universities, community organizations, and state leaders.

“Today more than half of states are embracing the need to serve adults as the future of education and workforce education,” said Terri Taylor, Lumina’s deputy director for postsecondary finance and project lead for the Adult Promise strategy. “We achieve the best results when Lumina’s priorities match those of the field.”

About Lumina
Lumina Foundation
 is an independent, private foundation in Indianapolis that is committed to making opportunities for learning beyond high school available to all. Lumina 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. The foundation’s goal is to prepare people for informed citizenship and for success in a global economy.

The following chart summarizes the grants.

State Activities Populations served


  • Analyze the availability of supports for adults
  • Conduct focus groups with adults with low incomes to better understand barriers
  • Recommend systemic change
  • Adults with some college experience who have not yet finished
  • Latinos


  • Serve community college students, especially adults, through existing Hawaii Promise program
  • Develop a system of enrolling or reenrolling adults that includes better advising, credit for prior learning, expanded online learning options, payment plans for those with employer benefits, and new degree pathways
  • Implement campaigns targeted at adults who haven’t earned anything beyond a high school diploma
  • Adults with some college experience who have not yet finished
  • Native Hawaiians, Pacific Islanders, Filipinos


  • Deliver  student advising and educational services for adults through community libraries in 10 rural underserved counties
  • Launch outreach to prospective adult students in partnership with colleges, industry partners, and state and local agencies.
  • Develop statewide policies that provide clear and consistent articulation for awarding credit for prior learning and military experience.
  • Adults with some college experience who have not yet finished
  • Rural adults
  • Native Americans and Latinos
  • Military veterans


  • Partner with three community and technical colleges to pilot enhanced adult-friendly programs using the Work-Ready Kentucky Scholarship
  • Launch new public awareness campaigns and student recruitment efforts, joining with state and local organizations focused on achieving racial and economic justice
  • Adults with no prior education beyond high school
  • African-Americans and Latinos
  • Low-income adults in distressed urban and rural areas

North Carolina

  • Scale efforts to identify and recruit students using tools developed by Wake Tech Community College.
  • Create a website focused on North Carolina adult learners, which will include financial aid information and credit for prior learning focused on adult learners.
  • Build online modules for students, faculty, and staff to expand credit for prior learning policies, practices, and development throughout the state.
  • Adults with no prior education beyond high school
  • Adults with some college credit, but no credential
  • African-Americans, Latinos, and Native Americans


  • Engage all Ohio public colleges and universities on strategies to improve adult learner outcomes. Develop messaging to increase awareness of the importance of serving adult and the tools to do so
  • Build the capacity of five public colleges or universities to serve adults, emphasizing practices that can help achieve racial and economic justice
  • Adults with some college experience who have not yet finished
  • Adults with no prior education beyond high school
  • African-Americans

Never Too Late: A Foundation’s Latest Investment in Adult Education | Inside Philanthropy | Nov. 27, 2018

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