Strada Education Network Invests in Development of State Policies for Adult Learners, Disconnected Youth


$3.5 million in grants to National Governors Association, Education Commission of the States will incubate new pathways to opportunity for 32 million Americans left out of economic growth

INDIANAPOLIS – Strada Education Network®, a national nonprofit dedicated to strengthening education-to-employment pathways, today announced grant awards totaling $3.5 million to the National Governors Association (NGA) and Education Commission of the States. The funding will support the development and piloting of state policies designed to unlock economic opportunity for adult learners and disconnected youth.Despite continued economic growth in the U.S., an estimated 32 million adults are jobless or lacking the skills, credentials and networks they need to earn a living wage. With good reason, data now suggests that half of all Americans believe they need additional education to advance in their careers. Still, just 11 percent of Americans from working-class families earn a bachelor’s degree by the age of 24, and the earnings gap between those with, and without, postsecondary credentials is growing.

“As laboratories for innovation, states are in a unique position to craft policies that are both responsive to the demands of employers – and tailored around the aspirations and potential of education consumers,” said William D. Hansen, president and CEO of Strada Education Network and former U.S. deputy secretary of education. “This is about more than just closing skills gaps. It’s about turning the tide for the working class by identifying and enabling new approaches to education and workforce development to take hold and scale.”

Partnership with NGA Focuses on State-Based Plans to Upskill Working Adults

With backing from Strada Education Network, the NGA’s Center for Best Practices will help governors identify new ways to help working adults develop skills that enable them to compete in the future of work. The Center will launch a policy academy for a select cohort of pilot states, which will be selected through a competitive request for proposals (RFP) process, to create state-based plans to refresh the skills of working adults. States will share their findings through a Summer Institute, which will highlight the ongoing work of the cohort and leverage expert advisors to provide tailored feedback to states as they work to address policy or implementation challenges.

“All Americans deserve good jobs. But a living wage is still out of reach for millions of Americans,” said Montana Governor Steve Bullock, 2019 chair of the National Governors Association. “States face a moral and economic imperative to re-think our approach to workforce development and training. Strada Education Network will bring critical resources, data and insights to bear on supporting our work.”

Partnership with Education Commission of the States Focuses on Disconnected Youth
Strada’s partnership with Education Commission of the States will identify policy solutions that can support young adults, 18 to 24 years old, who are neither working nor in school but seek to access job opportunities through further education. Education Commission of the States, which partners with education policymakers at all levels of state government, will work with states selected through an RFP process to develop, test and share best practices. Strada Education Network and Education Commission of the States will share new policy insights through a series of reports, policy papers, and national databases.

“This partnership with Strada and NGA is the ideal next step in informing and advancing state policies focused on postsecondary completion for disconnected youth,” said Jeremy Anderson, president of Education Commission of the States. “At Education Commission of the States, we believe that – while all states are unique – they face similar policy challenges and can benefit from collaborating and learning from other states’ approaches.”

Consumer Insights Inform Commitment to State-Based Solutions
These new state-focused partnerships were developed in response to the insights and data surfaced from the Strada-Gallup Education Consumer Survey, a nationally-representative database featuring the perspectives of more than 308,000 U.S. adults on their education and work experiences after high school. In addition to consumer insights data, NGA and Education Commission of the States will draw upon new forms of labor market data generated by labor market analytics firm Emsi, a Strada affiliate. By pairing employer demand with consumer insights, Strada Education Network will provide policymakers with unprecedented insight into not just the supply but the demand for skills.

Additional information about the policy initiatives, including the request for proposal and states selected to participate in the two programs, will be shared in the coming months. For more information about Strada’s consumer insights research with Gallup, visit