Setting the Standard for Innovation and Impact in Education with Access Partnerships
Discover how edX takes a collective impact approach to delivering free or substantially cost-reduced, career-relevant learning opportunities that help underserved populations in communities around the world achieve greater economic mobility.
From the beginning, edX has been grounded in an unwavering commitment to increase access to high-quality education for everyone, everywhere. What has also grounded us is the power of partnerships—whether that be with universities, businesses, or other like-minded organizations that believe in our mission.
Our steadily growing Access Partnerships—which just gained edX recognition on Fast Company’s 2023 list of the World’s Most Innovative Companies—take partnerships to the next level. Bringing together hyper-local coalitions of educational institutions, workforce agencies, funding organizations, government entities, nonprofit service groups, and area employers, these programs help upskill and diversify regional workforces while bending back the cost curve of education.
With Access Partnerships, we have one goal: to create a sustainable workforce development model for delivering free or substantially cost-reduced, career-relevant learning opportunities to help underserved populations in communities around the world achieve greater economic mobility. To meet this goal, we take a collective impact approach where learners get support at every step along their educational journey, so that they don’t fall through the cracks.
Fully Supported Pathways to Opportunity
In an Access Partnership, everyone brings their greatest strengths to the table—and for edX, that starts with combining the rigor and flexibility of online boot camps with individualized student support. As one of the world’s most comprehensive online learning platforms, edX is uniquely positioned to give learners the skills training they need in high-growth fields like programming, data analytics, and cybersecurity. And with our expertise in reaching across sectors, building relationships, and scaling quickly without sacrificing quality, we can find just the right partners to provide funding and wraparound services—and then help find learners who’d most benefit from them.
Through this approach, Access Partnerships go well beyond securing scholarship funds from foundations and government grants to cover learners’ tuition costs. We amplify our overall impact by combining our resources to create fully supported pathways to opportunity for all kinds of learners, whether they’re women, people of color, military veterans, individuals with disabilities, at-risk youth, or any other group who’s been marginalized by the traditional education system.
To date, edX has active Access Partnerships with 17 academic institutions serving learners in Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Kansas, Maryland, Nevada, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah, Washington, and Wisconsin in the U.S.; Birmingham in the UK; and New Brunswick in Canada. They also include 93 agencies and community partners, each carefully chosen to support their region’s unique learner populations: Black Wall Street and the Cherokee Nation in the Tulsa region, Habitat for Humanity in central Florida, refugee organizations in Denver, DACA youth services in Portland, and nonprofits helping women re-enter the workforce in Birmingham, among many others.
Inspiring Snapshots of Learner Success
When we first launched our Access Partnerships in 2021, our early successes motivated us to keep going, fine-tuning our model along the way. For our inaugural cohort in Portland, Oregon, for example, we saw an 83% boot camp completion rate and 67% job placement rate within 30 days after graduation. In the UK, our scholarships for women and BAME (Black Asian Minority Ethnic) individuals helped boost boot camp enrollments by 146%, with 39% of the people enrolled having no prior university education.
Today, with each new cohort, it’s the personal snapshots of skills progress and career success that let us know Access Partnerships are setting learners on the right track so they can change their lives for the better. At Tulsa Community College (TCC), for example, their cybersecurity boot camp is helping a long-time gas station cashier upskill in tech while still in her job; she recently performed a tech install there on her own.
Meanwhile, at the University of Central Florida, their data analytics and visualization boot camp helped a Habitat for Humanity homeowner secure a sustainable income in tech to further support her family. And at the University of Oregon, their UX/UI boot camp helped a refugee from Burundi land a job as a technical support advisor at Microsoft.
These and other stories from individual learners are inspiring testaments to all that we can achieve when we activate collective strengths across sectors to meet learners wherever they are. As Pete Selden, TCC’s vice president of workforce development, shared with us: “Public and private entities must work hand-in-hand to solve today’s most pressing economic and workforce development needs—and these efforts must include everyone in our communities. Our work with edX is creating impactful change on so many levels.”
The Collective Impact Model, Brought to Life
At edX, we continue to set lofty goals for our Access Partnerships, as we’re confident and energized by how they’re helping to improve access to quality education for diverse groups of learners. When we work to identify common goals and align and integrate our actions across all partners, we can more effectively reach these populations together than any of us could do on our own.
Fast Company’s recognition of edX encourages all of us working on Access Partnerships to keep growing and collaborating, full steam ahead. It’s truly an honor to be included with other companies that are using innovation to address some of society’s most critical issues. We’re excited to keep bringing the collective impact model to life—and can’t wait to see where in the world we go next.
Interested to learn more about developing an Access Partnership in your region? Email us to start the conversation.
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