The number of adults who lack skills beyond a high school diploma is a significant national concern.  In Kansas alone, there are over 900,000 working-age adults with no meaningful postsecondary credential. The trend will only continue, and by 2020 it is projected that 60 percent of Kansas jobs will require workers with some form of postsecondary credentials. This magnifies the current difficulty employers across the state report in finding qualified workers who can fill skilled positions. Kansas community and technical colleges play a vital role in promoting economic prosperity for individuals and the state by delivering high-demand technical training.

The Kansas Board of Regents, in partnership with the Kansas Department of Commerce, is now implementing the Accelerating Opportunity initiative in Kansas (AO-K), transforming the delivery system for adult education in Kansas by using Career Pathways to deliver career and technical education simultaneously with adult basic skills instruction.  Students complete short term certificate programs aligned with labor market needs, leading to industry endorsed credentials and immediate jobs.  Kansas is part of a national initiative managed by Jobs for the Future and funded by six philanthropies – Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Joyce Foundation, Kellogg Foundation, Kresge Foundation, Open Society Foundations and the University of Phoenix Foundation. Kansas received $1.8 million for both design and implementation phases.  In addition to Kansas, Accelerating Opportunity is also implemented in seven other states: Illinois, Kentucky, Georgia, Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas and Texas.

Accelerating Opportunity: Kansas (AO-K) - English (pdf)

Community and technical colleges across Kansas are implementing Accelerating Opportunity:

  • Barton Community College
  • Dodge City Community College
  • Flint Hills Technical College
  • Garden City Community College
  • Highland Community College
  • Hutchinson Community College
  • Kansas City Kansas Community College
  • Neosho Community College, which includes consortium of three additional colleges:
         - Fort Scott Community College
         - Independence Community College
         - Labette Community College
  • Seward County Community College/Area Technical School
  • Washburn Institute of Technology
  • Wichita Area Technical College

Snapshot of Success

Accelerating Opportunity changes the way adult basic education is delivered by putting adult students on track to earn a postsecondary credential so they can seize the opportunity to earn family sustaining wages and break the intergenerational cycle of poverty.

  Year 1 Totals Year 2 Totals Year 3 To-Date** Cumulative*
Enrollments 1,069 994 1,055 3,118
College Certificates 184 456 710 1,350
Industry Recognized Credentials Awarded 1,191 1,086 1,514 3,791
Individuals Completing a 12-Credit Hour Pathway 341 450 325 1,116
Number Employed 366 247 229 842

* Enrollment headcount is unduplicated
** Initial reporting period not complete until 9-30-2014

Since January 2012, Kansas community and technical colleges have enrolled over 3,000 students in over 30 career pathway programs.  To date, these students have earned nearly 4,000 industry recognized credentials in areas such as healthcare, welding, manufacturing and aero-structures.  Over 1,000 students have completed a 12-credit hour pathway and 842 are employed

In July 2013, the Kansas Department for Children and Families partnered with the Kansas Board of Regents to begin offering a tuition scholarship program to support Kansans enrolled in AO-K career pathway programs who qualify to receive TANF (Temporary Aid for Needy Families) benefits.


For more information about this initiative, contact us.