Non-Credit and Credit Alignment Lab

From 2021 to 2023, the Association of Community College Trustees (ACCT) and Education Strategy Group (ESG) partnered to launch the Non-Credit and Credit Alignment Lab (NCAL), a two-year initiative to support 14 community college governance units’ (i.e. systems, districts, colleges) in developing new or improved pathways between non-credit and credit programs. The project was supported by a $1.2 million grant from ECMC Foundation.

Non-credit programming can be a steppingstone to further education and training that leads to higher earnings and greater career sustainability. Unfortunately, our systems are designed to discourage rather than facilitate pathways across non-credit and credit programs, according to ESG research. The result is that many students in non-credit programs are left without pathways to additional learning, and colleges fail to take advantage of a significant population of engaged learners ready to enroll in credit-bearing programs. To achieve greater equity and develop more resilient and responsive systems following a global pandemic, community colleges must bridge the divide between non-credit and credit programs.

Partner Institutions

The Association of Community College Trustees (ACCT) and Education Strategy Group (ESG) are pleased to announce the 14 community colleges selected to participate in the Non-Credit & Credit Alignment Lab (NCAL).

Non-Credit & Credit Alignment Lab Cohort


The new suite of resources highlight the work of community colleges across the country who are making real progress in building more unified institutions. These six new briefs offer a closer look at how NCAL community colleges are making meaningful progress under each of the key pillars for success in this work, which were first outlined in the framework of ESG's A More Unified Community College.

Framework Spotlight Brief #1 | Treat All Students As Students

Framework Spotlight Brief #2 | Build Pathways Between Non-Credit and Credit

Framework Spotlight Brief #3 | Aligning Non-Credit and Credit Divisions

Framework Spotlight Brief #4 | Make Non-Credit Programs Credit-Worthy and Credit-Based

Framework Spotlight Brief #5 | Remove Barriers for Non-Credit to Credit Transitions

Framework Spotlight Brief #6 | Increasing Data Capacity to Drive Decisions and Advance Alignment

Non-Credit and Credit Alignment: How Students Benefit from a More Seamless Experience

As non-credit programs grow in popularity, what can non-credit to credit students teach us about opportunities to build more seamless pathways to increase credential attainment?

Below are the stories of six students, as well as video profiles of their three respective colleges to help the field understand what it takes to serve this unique population of students and ensure they are able to access the high-paying, in-demand jobs that will help them, and their families, thrive.

Non-Credit and Credit Alignment: Student Stories

Alexis PrimoA Student Story: Alexis Primo-Hawkins
Amy WestA Student Story: Amy West
Flora HamamuraA Student Story: Flora Hamamura
Kelly GrimmerA Student Story: Kelly Grimmer
Kilma Rower FontesA Student Story: Kilma Rower Fontes
Lizbeth CriolloA Student Story: Lizbeth Criollo


NCAL WebinarA More Unified Community College: Lessons from the Non-Credit and Credit Alignment Lab - July 2023
NCAL WebinarEquitably Serving Learners in Non-Credit: Lessons from the Non-Credit and Credit Alignment Lab - January 2024

Contact Us

For questions about the NCAL initiative or contact:

ACCT: Sean Robins