CCA and CAEL Team Up to Support Adult Learners

New partnership will support the implementation of Game Changer strategies to improve college completion outcomes for adult learners


At its Annual Convening today, Complete College America announced a new partnership with the Council for Adult and Experiential Learning (CAEL) to develop and support the implementation of better support systems for adult learners in higher education.

The collaboration is intended to address today’s growing and diverse population of non-traditional students, specifically focusing on the hurdles adult learners face. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, one in five undergraduate students are at least thirty years old. One in four care for a child.

Through this new partnership, the two organizations will produce and distribute key learnings and best practices for CCA Alliance members and other partners. This will include the development of a toolkit for the implementation of CCA’s A Better Deal for Returning Adults and Purpose First Game Changer strategies. The organizations will also collaborate to identify content experts who can best inform the Alliance’s advocacy and implementation work.

“We live in an era of cataclysmic change in our society and our economy. We have to take a new approach to postsecondary education that meets the needs of a much different population than the one our current system is built to serve,” said Marie Cini, Ph.D., President, Council for Adult and Experiential Learning (CAEL). “Rather than emphasizing exclusivity and the interests of a singular population of students, postsecondary education has to focus on serving all students, introducing more inclusivity and supporting success outcomes over a life of continuous learning.”

“Complete College America is at the forefront of the national movement to help more students achieve a college degree. CAEL believes, as does CCA, that to achieve these goals, we must collaborate for the good of our learners. CAEL focuses on adult learners and we are excited to support CCA with their work toward adult student success.”

Founded in 1974 to meet the needs of adult learners, CAEL is a non-profit that creates career pathways for adults by informing, supporting and connecting education providers, workforce strategies and employers.

“We are very excited about this opportunity to partner in strategic and intentional ways with CAEL,” said Yolanda Watson Spiva, Ph.D., President, Complete College America. “For a long time, CAEL has led the way on developing new approaches for supporting adult students in higher education.By joining forces, we hope to become one of the premier hubs for support on advancing adult learner strategies, while also advocating for proven and evidence based practices that can change campus structures to serve more students.We look forward to collaborating with them in pursuit of improving adult completion rates in alignment with CCA’s national efforts to scale effective adult college success and completion strategies.”

The partnership will help advance CCA’s Purpose First and Better Deal for Returning Adults completion strategies. To download CCA’s latest report on Purpose First, go to