Creating a Los Angeles Community College, Faculty-Led Innovation Hub

Regional opportunity to solve shared challenges through a collaborative Faculty Curriculum Innovation Hub for the benefit of our traditionally disadvantaged students & local economy

The Challenge

The decision to organize 19 Los Angeles Community Colleges, diverse departments, faculty members, and administrators to strategize and implement programs to improve Student Success and Equity was based on a number of wide-ranging socio-economic factors that are affecting the future of work and education, especially for traditionally disadvantaged students.

The first project from the Innovation Hub was an Allied Health Noncredit CNA Program, which was a direct response to the community need for first-line healthcare workers in the Los Angeles area, the need to reduce equity gaps for low-income students, and the desire to increase health equity outcomes for patients of different cultures, experiences, and backgrounds.

Our Approach

  • The CAN (working group) had the ambitious goal of improving every stage of the student’s experience: from “enrollment to career.” No single organization, however innovative or powerful, could accomplish these goals alone.
  • BrandIQ utilized the Collective Impact process to align diverse entities on a common set of strategic priorities, a centralized infrastructure, a common agenda, shared measurement, continuous communication, accountability, and mutually reinforcing activities. With BrandIQ’s guidance, a core group of faculty, administrative, and community leaders decided to abandon their individual agendas in favor of a collective impact approach to improving student achievement.
  • The CAN met with BrandIQ facilitators for two hours each month for 18 months, developing shared performance indicators, discussing their progress, and most importantly, learning from each other and aligning their efforts to support each other. BrandIQ, as both the independent backbone organization and the facilitator of the process, is an example of Collective Impact in action: gaining commitment from a group of important entities from different sectors to focus on a common agenda to solve a specific social problem.

The Outcome

The participants realized that fixing one point on the educational continuum — a best-in-class non-credit CNA certificate, wouldn’t make much difference unless every aspect of the program was free to the student. They also ensured that students would have support in making it through the administrative burdens of enrollment, opportunities for gaining paid experience during their program through work-based learning, and direct access to good paying entry-level jobs post-program.

  • Nursing faculty from 7 colleges, and 5 major healthcare employer partners, created and aligned behind a “best-in-class” Noncredit CNA Curriculum that provides curricular flexibility and benefits that can be adopted at any college in Los Angeles County starting with a pilot program for 35 students per cohort (70 in total for Compton College and East Los Angeles College (which will offer it bilingually)).
    • An innovative ‘Orientation module’ was developed to address notable gaps in program completion, certification, and licensing. The module provides support to complete daunting administrative checklists, lays out program expectations, teaches soft skills, and allows employers to share job placement opportunities prior to the start of classes.
  • Initiated and developed lasting relationships/partnerships between faculty and public/private regional employers that have committed to hiring students in the Noncredit CNA Program Pilot. These relationships can be further leveraged in the initial 7 colleges as well as other colleges in the region.
  • Eliminated cost barriers to entry, and compensated students while gaining education and skill-building to positively impact diversity, equity, and inclusion.
    • Innovatively made the program FREE of any costs for students (e.g., admission fees, uniforms, equipment, and liability insurance), and provided hourly pay during their required clinical hours.
  • Developed a jobs program that incorporates commitments from public and private employers (LA County DHS & Maxim Healthcare) for paid work-based learning and full-time, benefited employment.
    • Students will enter the workforce with in-demand skills, work experience, a direct connection to a benefited job, and more latticed advancement opportunities within Home Health, Clinical, Administration, and Nursing, as well as above average entry-level wages for the position.
  • Worked with the LA County Department of Health Services to simplify their hiring process for ‘union’ CNA jobs at their hospitals and clinics. This was made available to any of the colleges in the region that had CNA programs (credit or non-credit).
  • Leveraged CalJobs through the AJCC enrollment during Orientation, for compensating students during Clinical hours and tracking student job attainment after program completion and certification.
Nirav Kaneriya