Creating the Missing Link between Career Choice and Guided Pathways

To ensure greater social mobility for minoritized communities, whether high school graduates or displaced workers, colleges must provide relevant information associated with all careers, link academic pathways to all programs of study, with clear connections between learning outcomes and job competencies. Achieving this requires colleges and universities to implement CCA’s Purpose strategies at scale, aligning the work of business and industry professionals with postsecondary institutions across two-year and four-year spaces, all the while ensuring a comprehensive transition from high school to college.

Informational Webinar

About the Initiative

In Brief

  • All 2-year and 4-year Kentucky institutions are eligible to participate in the project
  • Up to 8 institutions in Kentucky will be selected
  • $550,000 in total funding
  • No cost to institutions
  • Focused on creating clear connections between labor needs, guided pathways, and students’ career goals, particularly for racially minoritized students
  • CCA will work with Kentucky’s CPE and KCTCS to complement existing efforts to scale Purpose First strategies.


  • Update onboarding process to include assisted career exploration, regional labor/market data, and unbiased advising. 
  • Create a database of preferred competencies for careers and high-demand jobs at the regional level. 
  • Create or optimize comprehensive academic maps that include potential career outcomes. 
  • Collaborate with faculty members to start integrating competencies in curriculum and on syllabi. 
  • Elevate understanding for the need of career information and academic/career alignment for all pathways at the institutional and state levels. 



Evidence suggests that students who earn 30 credits in their first year, complete gateway math and English courses, enter a program of study and enroll in 9 credits in their program are more likely to earn a postsecondary credential. Unfortunately, many students are asked to make uninformed decisions about a course of study aligned with a career choice that often result in them either delaying their choice of a program or changing majors after the first year. As a consequence, these students extend their time to a degree and incur significantly higher direct and opportunity costs. A portion of those who complete college, report lower satisfaction with major choice after graduation and many students, particularly racially minoritized students and students from low-income families, find themselves unable to access programs of study that can lead to higher wages and social mobility. Worst of all, the cost is too high for some students, leading them to drop out entirely with no degree or credential of value. Historically excluded and under resourced students are disproportionately affected by these challenges, which only widens equity gaps.  

The grant from Lumina Foundation will support the implementation of the Purpose First strategy within two- and four-year institutions across Kentucky. Purpose First serves as the missing link in aligning academic major decisions and career choices to outline guided pathways for students to make informed decisions and hit early benchmarks toward on-time graduation.

How to Get Involved

Watch Informational Webinar

We hosted a virtual meeting on October 15th at 12:00pm ET that shared more information about this exciting work. Please watch about how you can get involved. 


Support the Initiative

For institutions not in Kentucky and higher education nonprofits interested in learning more about supporting this work, we’d love to talk.

Get in Touch