2021 Impact Report

Connecting Education
to Work

How Our Partnerships, Research, and Investments
Shape Who We Are and Where We’re Going

Get Started

Our Why

We envision a future where millions more individuals can complete postsecondary education or training that helps them secure a good job, do meaningful work, contribute to their community, and lead a fulfilling life.

Marie Welsh
Graduate, The American Women’s College, Bay Path University

Who We Are

We conduct research, engage in philanthropy, and invest in companies and organizations working to better connect education and training after high school to good jobs.

Meet the Strada leadership and Strada Board of Trustees.

How We Work

We use our unique combination of resources and expertise to create change.


Through interviews, focus groups, and surveys, we learn how students experience the various pathways from education to work. We use these insights to inform policies and practices that will improve the quality and value of education and training and will benefit the students who need it most. Our goal is to make student perspectives relevant to education providers and policymakers and to provide tools for them to be more accountable to students’ needs.

Keep Reading

Strada Public Viewpoint

Strada conducts primary and secondary research to learn what students need so educators, policymakers, employers, innovators, funders, and others can help all students succeed beyond completion of a degree or credential.

We focus on four areas of research:

  • We explore the choice to pursue additional education and training. This encompasses aspirations, expectations, barriers, and the desired supports involved in making the choice to pursue more learning.
  • We examine students’ experiences during education and training to ensure that everyone involved understands what students value and how to meet their needs in ways that perpetuate their success far beyond the completion of a credential or degree.
  • We measure student outcomes — persistence, completion, employment, and socio-economic—to identify proven practices to help students succeed. In addition to providing resources to measure and benchmark student outcomes, we evaluate the effectiveness of our own grants, investments, strategic services, engagement, and advocacy efforts.
  • We conduct research to help Strada and our partners find new ways to help every student succeed through and beyond completion of degrees and credentials.

People pursue higher education to secure a good job and open a pathway to a fulfilling life.

Our annual Strada Outcomes Survey of alumni provides institutions with a means to gather the perspectives of their graduates over the past 20 years. Applying a new framework for measuring success after graduation, we asked alumni if they are earning a decent income, whether they felt their education was worth the cost, and whether it helped them achieve their goals.

  • About half (52%) of alumni believed they experienced a successful outcome on all three metrics.
  • Alumni of color, first-generation, and female graduates are all less likely to report favorable outcomes than their counterparts.
  • Experiences connecting education to career are strongly linked to better outcomes after graduation.

A framework for measuring postsecondary success

Source: 2021 Strada Outcomes Survey, bachelor's degree graduates.

Grantmaking and Investments

Our grants and investments support organizations and companies that develop promising opportunities, expand proven examples of success, and sustain models that are working. We measure the social impact and returns of all of our investments and incorporate what we learn into future decisions. This learning includes conducting and sharing research so the most promising practices and organizations receive more attention and support from additional funders.

Keep Reading

First Class

2021 Strategic Grant Partners

We partner with organizations focused on student success, insights and institutional support, and workforce development.

Our Mission-Aligned Investment Portfolio

At Strada, we seek to invest in companies redefining the pathways between education, training, and workforce success.

Advocacy and Engagement

Our long-term goal is to create a new norm for how we define success for education after high school. Given the broad range of our work, we engage every day with all aspects of the education and workforce universe. We advance our collective work by sharing what we’re learning through publications, podcasts, and media activities, and by bringing our colleagues and partners together to collaborate and amplify our collective efforts.

Keep Reading

Sharing What We Learn

How We Share

Lessons Earned

Through our podcast, Strada Impact President Ruth Watkins talks with innovators who are challenging the status quo and exploring scalable solutions to help millions of people navigate between learning and earning.

On Purpose

Our newsletter offers action-oriented information to help educators, employers, and policymakers forge clear, purposeful paths between education and work.

Strada Webinars

Our webinars bring together Strada researchers and leading experts in postsecondary education and the workforce for insightful conversations about how our learnings can improve education and career outcomes.

Strada Collaborative

Organizations in Strada Collaborative serve as innovation labs that test ideas and develop real-world solutions.

Keep Reading

Roadtrip Nation

CAEL helps organizations succeed by providing expertise, resources, and solutions that effectively support adult learners as they navigate on- and off-ramps between education and employment. CAEL partners with entities across the adult learner ecosystem to help create actionable career pathways along the journey of lifelong learning and meaningful work.


Adult Learners

Enrolled in CAEL Postsecondary Institutions (Ages 25 to 64)

Education at Work creates employment pathways for underserved student populations that lead to personal growth, financial freedom, and career success. Its mission is to prepare college students for careers and enable them to graduate with less debt.


Student Employees

In 2021


Per Year

Amount Students Can Earn in Tuition Assistance

InsideTrack is passionate about improving enrollment, persistence, completion and career readiness for learners through partnership with higher education institutions, governmental organizations, nonprofit organizations, and employers. Impact is delivered through direct student coaching, as well as staff training and professional services.



Engaged With InsideTrack Coaches in 2021

Roadtrip Nation creates and shares stories that humanize the career exploration experience and empower individuals to connect their interests to fulfilling careers. Roadtrip Nation is one part media production, one part career education platform, and 100 percent mission-driven.


High School Students

Have Access to the Roadtrip Nation Experience Course


Learners Reached

Each Year Through Education Partnerships, Including College Board, Naviance, and Boys & Girls Clubs of America

What We Know Works

There are specific practices that have been proven to help students succeed, including guidance, connections to employment, and financial and other resources that help make education affordable.

Brittany Santos
Student, George Mason University


Students have a dramatically better chance to succeed through and beyond completion of a degree or credential when they receive personalized guidance, advice, coaching, and support to achieve their education and training goals.

Keep Reading

A Platform for Navigating Education


Students ranked having an advisor as the most helpful support they could have in their pursuit of further education.

Strada research released in June 2021 was based on surveys of graduates from the classes of 2020 and 2021 who had intended to enroll in education after high school but decided to postpone their plans. These disrupted students identified guidance, affordability, and stronger connection to careers as the most helpful solutions for reconnecting them to education.

Most helpful items when trying to get more education

Source: Strada Public Viewpoint, June 23, 2021.


George Mason University and nearby Northern Virginia Community College came together to simplify the transition from a two-year school to a four-year institution — but they didn’t stop there.

Just as creating curriculum pathways required faculty members to align their curricula, the institutions also pulled together regional employers to discuss the skills they expect from students and how those skills relate to college degrees. With funding from a Strada grant, George Mason’s ADVANCE program created the Career Accelerator Toolkit, a web-based tool informed by employer feedback and labor market data that enables students to track the skills they’ve learned in class, those they will pick up if they stay the course, and how those skills relate to jobs in their areas of study.


InsideTrack pioneered the use of personalized, one-on-one, executive-style coaching as a way to help all learners achieve their education and career goals.

The organization, which is part of Strada Collaborative, promotes learner-centered education and helps break down silos to create a consistent, positive student experience — helping both students and institutions thrive.

More than 2.6 million students have benefited from InsideTrack coaching over its 20-year history, and strong evidence of its coaching efficacy includes research published in the What Works Clearinghouse, an initiative of the U.S. Department of Education's Institute of Education Sciences.

But some of the most important demonstrations of InsideTrack’s value can be found in case studies of its work with partner institutions.

Impact of InsideTrack Coaching on Student Retention at Illinois Central College, Spring 2019 to Spring 2020


higher retention among students who received coaching


higher retention among African American students who received coaching

Resources to Complete

Policies and practices can make it possible for students to receive the financial resources they need to make education and training affordable. Students also need other supporting resources to ensure they can juggle finances and complicated lives while completing their degrees. In addition, they need access to other work-based learning and internship opportunities that connect them to mentors, social capital, and networks to advance their education and career opportunities.

Keep Reading

Tuition Help

Resources to Complete

Three million students leave college each year because of a time-sensitive financial crisis of $500 or less.

Strada investee Edquity, a technology provider in Brooklyn, New York, provides partner colleges and organizations with a mobile platform that makes it quicker and easier for students to apply for emergency aid in a manner that is equitable, effective, and federally compliant.

In the last six months of 2021 alone, Edquity helped its partners distribute more than $75 million in federal funding.

Resources to Complete

Jackie Robinson Foundation Scholars earn more than a scholarship.

The program, with more than 1,500 alumni over its 49-year history, now supports 263 Jackie Robinson Foundation Scholars at 118 colleges and universities nationwide. And while the scholarships — up to $30,000 over four years — provide financial support for outstanding high school students to attend the accredited four-year school of their choice, the program’s differentiator is the extensive support that surrounds the students. That programming helps students navigate their college environments, explore career options, develop leadership skills, and embrace a commitment to service. In 2021, 10 Jackie Robinson Foundation Scholars graduated who had been supported by Strada since they began their college journeys in 2017, the year Strada announced a $6.5 million gift for the program. At the time, it was the largest single gift Strada had awarded and the largest the foundation had received since its founding in 1973. Since then, Strada has awarded an additional $1.2 million to fund 42 Jackie Robinson Foundation Scholars.

Connection to Employment

Making effective and integrated connections between education and work improves completion and employment outcomes for students. These connections include internships, apprenticeships, and other work-based learning that is relevant to people’s career exploration and choices.

Keep Reading

Loyce Shelley
Student, University of Memphis

Connection to Employment

CAEL was founded on the revolutionary principle that adult learners should be met where they are and that their experience in getting there can create college-level learning.

Forty-eight years later, CAEL continues to build on research into the value of helping adult learners earn credit for prior learning, a term for the methods colleges, universities, and other training providers use to evaluate learning that has occurred outside the traditional academic environment.

Overall, adult learners who earn credit for prior learning are 17 percent more likely to graduate than those who do not.

Connection to Employment

The stronger the connection alumni see between their higher education program and their career, the more likely they are to report they had a successful outcome.

In a nationally representative Strada survey of college alumni, after controlling for differences in student characteristics, those who reported stronger connections to career as undergraduates were more likely to consider their education valuable, alongside other improved outcomes beyond completion.

As an example, this chart models the expected influence of connection to career on Strada beyond completion outcomes for a first-generation female student of color holding mean-level ratings for academics and community.

Going from no career connections to extremely valuable career connections, the student’s predicted likelihood of earning more than $40,000 per year increases by 37 percentage points, their likelihood of believing their education was worth the cost increases by 29 percentage points, and their likelihood of believing their education helped them to achieve their goals increases by 27 percentage points.

Strong Education-to-Career Connections Correspond With Better Outcomes

Connection to Employment

Strada investee Pathstream offers short-term, online certificate programs to help learners fill the gaps in their digital skills.

Certificate offerings include digital marketing, data analytics, 3D immersive design, salesforce administration, and project management. The ultimate goal: to help students gain access to good jobs.

Pathstream works with leading technology companies to identify the fastest-growing career areas, then builds interactive learning programs to prepare students for tasks they would need to do on the job.


Average salary increase for learners who complete a certificate program, resulting in an average annual salary of $73,000.


of students in Pathstream Career Services get a job interview within two weeks of completion.


of participants who earn a certificate get a new job within six months, and 98 percent get a job within a year of completion.

Connection to Employment

A quality first opportunity helps individuals build long-term wealth and health.

Strada grantee Braven defines a strong first job as full-time, requiring a bachelor’s degree, and including some combination of promotion pathways, employee benefits, and a market-competitive starting salary.

In 2020, 420 Braven Fellows graduated from college. This class, which graduated into the worst labor market in many years, outpaced their peers nationally in strong job attainment or entrance into graduate school by 22 percentage points (58% vs 36%) within six months of graduation.

A key to Braven’s success is its unique partnership model with universities, employers, and philanthropists.

Where We Focus

We work across the full spectrum of educational experiences after high school to help ensure people have clear pathways to success at any stage in their educational and career trajectory and through any entry point.

Willena Glaster
Graduate, Brandman University

Historically Black Colleges and Universities

These anchor institutions provide critical platforms for the educational and economic advancement of their students.

Historically Black colleges and universities are a significant driver of degree attainment and economic mobility, especially for students of color and those from low-income families, and Strada wants to play a role in supporting that success and broadening its reach and impact.

Keep Reading

How We Collaborate

Strada HBCU Initiative

Strada has a commitment to HBCUs and their students that is designed to elevate the transformative economic, social, educational, and cultural influence of HBCUs.


Investment in HBCUs


HBCU partners and Growing


Strada Scholars and Growing

HBCU Advisory Council

The HBCU Advisory Council of current and former HBCU presidents and chancellors shaped and defined the core components of the HBCU Initiative.

Aminta Breaux

Strada Board of Trustees, President
Bowie State University

Marshall Grigsby

Retired Strada Trustee and Former HBCU President

Clarence D. “Clay” Armbrister

Johnson C. Smith University

Roslyn Clark Artis

Benedict College

Leonard Haynes

Former U.S. Assistant Secretary for Postsecondary Education
Former Acting President
Grambling State University

Adena Williams Loston

St. Philip’s College

Quinton T. Ross Jr

Alabama State University

Our Partner Institutions

The Strada HBCU Initiative’s first offering, Strada Scholars, is available to all HBCUs and launched with more than two dozen inaugural institutions during the 2021-22 academic year.

Universities and Colleges

Universities and colleges continue to be powerful engines for economic mobility and centers of innovation. We focus on identifying, testing, and expanding bachelor’s degree programs and models that deliver success beyond completion for individuals from all backgrounds and all stages of life. We support traditional campuses as well as new programs that allow students to secure a bachelor’s degree by combining multiple credentials.

Keep Reading

Innovation Grants

Beyond Completion Challenge

The Strada $10 million Beyond Completion Challenge, in partnership with the Taskforce on Higher Education and Opportunity, helps institutions launch, test, and scale innovations to improve career and life opportunities after graduation for more students of color as well as first-generation students, those who struggle to afford education, and adult students and workers.


Institutions and Growing


in Innovation Grants


in Scaling Grants in 2022


New workforce-readiness solutions and nondegree credential programs are providing cost-effective pathways to good careers that align with workforce needs. These industry-led credential programs are rapidly expanding, particularly in areas with high demand for skilled workers, such as health care, information technology, and advanced manufacturing.

Keep Reading

Credentials and Equity

Strada research found nondegree credentials yield positive returns, especially when combined with associate or bachelor's degrees.

Nondegree credentials include a diverse range of learning experiences, such as certificate programs at community colleges, apprenticeships, vocational training, industry-based certifications and occupational licenses, and more. Strada research released in July 2021 examined the prevalence, quality, and value of nondegree credentials by length of program, field of study, provider, gender, race and ethnicity, and other factors.

Community Colleges

Community colleges can meet the needs of the local community and employers simultaneously. We focus on building the capacity of community colleges to meet community and workforce needs, supporting partnerships between community colleges and employers, ending long-standing barriers to transfer, and increasing four-year degree programs at community colleges in areas of high demand.

Keep Reading

Compton College

When it comes to connecting education to a meaningful career, community college students are more likely than their peers at four-year institutions to feel supported by their schools.

This finding is part of Strada research released in January 2021 and based on the 2020 Strada-Gallup Education Consumer Survey and the Strada Student Viewpoint Survey.

U.S. community colleges were disproportionately affected by pandemic-era enrollment declines, with the total number of students down 13.2 percent in fall 2021, compared with 2019. Strada research also showed 1 in 5 community college students expected to delay their graduation because of COVID-19.

% of Students Who Rate Their Institution Excellent or Very Good at Helping Connect Education to Career

Strada Public Viewpoint, January 2021.

Where We're Going

Together, we can strengthen the links between postsecondary education and equitable economic opportunity.

I have a very personal connection to the work of Strada. From about age 6, I grew up as the son of a single mother in Mississippi. While we were never truly poor, I experienced frequent feelings of economic insecurity that lingered with me as I was growing up. From a young age, I saw postsecondary education as a pathway to economic security and mobility, yet I also experienced the challenge so many learners face in weighing my aspirations against the expense and time commitment of various higher education options I considered.

For decades, I have had a deep personal, professional, and intellectual interest in the connections between postsecondary education and economic opportunity. I have witnessed the transformational impact of higher ed in my life and those of many others. Through my professional work, I also have seen the impact that postsecondary education can have on the economic competitiveness and growth of regions, states, and our country.

Through our work at Strada, we aspire to help postsecondary education institutions and training providers to extend that impact by enabling millions more people to secure meaningful, well-compensated employment and economic mobility.

As we move forward together as partners in this mission, I look forward to exchanging ideas for how we can strengthen the links between postsecondary education and equitable economic opportunity.

Working together, we can build on the important work that already has been done, while cultivating new ideas to improve outcomes for the millions of individuals across our country who haven't yet experienced the full promise of higher education and economic opportunity.

Stephen Moret

President and CEO, Strada Education Network