Identify and Remove Barriers to Education

The ACT-On grant sought to make education more accessible to students interested in retail management careers. While the program included students who were employed, under-employed, and unemployed, college students face similar barriers regardless of employment status. These barriers may include having a busy schedule, being confused or overwhelmed by the process of enrolling, or lacking the funds to pay for school expenses. ACT-On colleges tried to identify and remove barriers that students' faced using through the following strategies:

Build Data Capacity

Goal and Strategy

One important way for colleges to identify barriers that impede students’ education is a comprehensive data collection system. Each college in the consortium was required to create a data collection and analysis system that would enable them to accurately assess the program’s design and outcomes, and provide them with relevant and timely information for continuous improvement. The strategy was also intended to improve each college’s institutional data capacity.

Key Findings

One of the big insufficiencies that the college had was data. There were some very big gaps in our data and research capacity. Had it not been for the ACT-On grant, we would not be even close to where we are today.

- Dean

Sustainability

Hire Student Support Staff

Goal and Strategy

Students often find college hard to navigate, from registration, to selecting the best classes for their career path, to understanding processes required before they can receive certificates or degrees. To address these barriers, the ACT-On program funded student support personnel, referred to in the grant as 'career coaches,' to promote student success.

Key Findings

Sustainability

Create Online Modules

Goal and Strategy

To make education more accessible and to facilitate the creation of more RMC programs across the nation, the ACT-On grant proposed to develop an online curriculum for each RMC class. Once completed, the colleges would make the class curricula publicly available so that other colleges could pick up and use the curricula as easily as possible.

Key Findings

Sustainability

Support Use of Online Technology

Goal and Strategy

Under the overarching goal of increasing access to RMC classes through online and technology-enabled learning, the grant proposed two strategies: 1) create and align on-line curriculum that builds on core competencies; and 2) provide support for faculty to teach classes online. This section explores the training activities implemented to support faculty and encourage them to incorporate more technology in their classrooms, and promising online practices identified by RMC faculty and students.

Key Findings

Sustainability

Maximize Program Flexibility

Goal and Strategy

This certificate attracts many students who are employed before they begin the program. Because of this, employed students face barriers related to the schedule and location of classes. To address these barriers, the ACT-On colleges worked with their schools' leadership and employers to provide as much flexibility as possible for students, both working students and unemployed students. Schools offered condensed classes (full courses over shorter period of time), online and hybrid instructions, and face-to-face classes at satellite or employer locations.

Key Findings

Sustainability

Facilitate Employer Support

Goal and Strategy

One way to accomplish the retail industry’s need for a high quality workforce is to make education more accessible not only for unemployed students, but for working learners as well. Students who are trying to work while also attending college experience a host of barriers to their education. These barriers include the cost of education (including textbooks and tuition) and balancing their school and work schedules. The ACT-On grant attempted to identify and remove these barriers by facilitating employer support.

Key Findings

Sustainability