How States and Institutions Can Work Together to Serve Adult Learners: Lessons from Adult Promise
When Lumina Foundation launched Adult Promise in 2017, it recognized states as the key driver of change in higher education finance and policy. In addition to making grants to state-level governing and coordinating bodies, the foundation partnered with the State Higher Education Executive Officers Association (SHEEO) to support grantee states in designing and implementing Adult Promise initiatives. However, as the SHEEO Adult Promise Design Template acknowledged, a wide variety of stakeholders—not only at the state level, but also at the regional, local, and institutional levels—are necessarily involved in increasing adult learner success, especially among historically underserved racial and ethnic communities. This brief examines the various components of institutional readiness to serve adult learners, highlights the ways that state and institutional actors can work together to support such readiness, and describes institutions’ perceptions of the state role. The document may be useful for state or higher education system leaders looking to better understand how to support institutions in their states, for institutional leaders looking to increase their own capacity to serve adult learners by working with the state, and for funders looking for ways to increase adult enrollment and completion in higher education.