Our Work
2017-20 Priorities for action

A postsecondary learning system for all Americans

The nation will need 60 percent of working-age people to have college degrees, workforce certificates or other quality credentials by 2025 to meet social and economic demands. To help 16.4 million Americans who are not yet on track, dramatic changes are necessary.


Priorities for action

In the years ahead, Lumina will focus on five priorities for action—big ideas about how to ensure six of every 10 working-age Americans have meaningful and marketable credentials beyond a high school diploma by 2025.

Scaling Affordable Pathways

A system for learning beyond high school that assures equitable access to affordable pathways to quality credentials

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Transparent Credentials

A new, national system of transparent, quality credentials exists in which learning is recognized however it occurs, offering every American a chance for a better life.

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Competency-Based Learning

A national expansion of competency-based learning takes place that recognizes measuring academic progress based on demonstrations of what students know and can do offers another option for educating Americans.

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First Credential for Adults

Pathways to initial credentials – including workforce certificates and industry certifications – exist for adults who have not yet pursued education beyond high school.

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Quality Assurance

An integrated quality assurance system is in place for credentialed learning beyond high school that is rooted in measuring student outcomes and enabling responsible innovation.

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Opportunity populations

Our objective is to help ensure 5.9 million of the 16.4 million Americans who are not yet on track earn credentials by 2020. We believe this will require a focus on three specific groups of potential students.

Traditional students

By 2025, 4.8 million of the 16.4 million additional people with credentials the nation needs will be awarded to students who today are between 16 and 24 and are not likely to go beyond high school. By 2020, our objective is to help increase educational attainment among this group by 500,000 more people than are on track today to earn college degrees, workforce certificates, or other credentials.

For people to earn these credentials, quality education beyond high school must be universally available. But mere access to such programs is not enough. Proven strategies must be put in place on a wide scale to assist students from underrepresented groups in completing programs that lead to marketable credentials.


Returning adults

By 2025, 6.1 million of the 16.4 million additional people with credentials will be returning adults—those who have attended college but have not finished. By 2020, our objective is to help increase postsecondary attainment among this population by 2 million people.

More than 27 million Americans have some college education but lack a credential—whether it’s a degree or a high-value workforce certificate. Many are Americans who are close to finishing but have “stopped out” of college—meaning they are no longer enrolled. Many have every intention of finishing, but the longer they stay away, the harder it will be to come back. Research shows that, with the right supports, many of these adults could get back on a path to completing their courses of study.


Adults with no education beyond high school

By 2025, 5.5 million of the 16.4 million additional people with credentials will be adults who today have no recognized education beyond high school. Our objective by 2020 is to help increase postsecondary attainment among this population by 3.4 million people.

This is the most underserved population—63.8 million Americans between 25 and 64 fall into this category. These Americans have little or no realistic chance today of obtaining credentials beyond the high school diploma that can set the stage for further education and employment. These adults are disproportionately poor and from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups. Some are in prisons and jails. Millions are recent immigrants with low levels of education and limited English-speaking skills. Millions more are workers who have been lost middle-class jobs and, because they lack middle- and higher-level skills, face enormous difficulty finding jobs that offer the income and benefits they had before.

Download the full strategic plan document for a more in-depth discussion including thoughts on today's students, the importance of equity, state and federal policy concerns, innovation and scale, and impact and metrics.

Strategic Plan for 2017-20

Read the full plan guiding Lumina's work through 2020. The plan outlines Lumina's vision for creating a system that is easy to navigate, delivers fair results, and meets the nation’s need for talent through a broad range of credentials.

See previous strategic plans

Strategic Plan, 2013-16

Strategic Plan, 2009-12