Citizens Expands Investment In Education Design Lab To Benefit CUNY Community Colleges

May 24, 2023

Citizens today announced it is expanding its investment in the Education Design Lab’s Community College Growth Engine with an additional $400,000 in funding to benefit four CUNY Community Colleges.

LaGuardia, Borough of Manhattan, Kingsborough and Queensborough – in the amount of $100,000 each.

This investment, combined with a prior contribution of $400,000 to bring the program to Bunker Hill Community College in Boston and the Community College of Philadelphia, plus a new investment of $200,000 for the Community College of Rhode Island, brings the total funding of EDL through the Citizens Community College Accelerator to $1 Million.

“Now, more than ever, private, public and non-profit sectors must come together to address the daunting shortage of skilled workers and widening opportunity divide. We recognize that community colleges play a critical role in meeting the workforce needs of the future. By investing in Education Design Lab to help them succeed, we are also investing in the economic viability and resilience of our communities,” said Bruce Van Saun, Chairman and CEO, Citizens Financial Group.


EDL created its Community College Growth Engine (CCGE) in March 2020 in response to an urgent demand from community college leadership to deliver skills-focused, market-driven education as regions struggle to mitigate the growing skills gap. The additional investments from Citizens in New York City and Rhode Island coupled with its prior investments in Boston and Philadelphia will continue to advance EDL’s innovative work to create a new class of credentials, called “micro-pathways,” that help diverse students obtain careers in high-growth sectors and thrive in the local economy.

As a result of Citizens investment, each of the participating CUNY community colleges will develop two to three additional micro-pathways in concert with local employers in high-growth industries that are aligned to regional labor market demand. The project also aims to fortify regional economic stability in New York City, and other participating communities, while benefiting local employers through an increasingly diversified workforce.

“We are enormously grateful for the support of Citizens to help cultivate new opportunities for communities in New York and around the country,” said Bill Hughes, president and CEO, Education Design Lab. “Community colleges are uniquely poised to be regional hubs for the kind of innovation and growth that will unlock economic mobility for learners and address growing skills gaps for employers. Only with the support of thoughtful and collaborative partners like Citizens can we continue to work alongside community colleges to expand programs like the Community College Growth Engine and redefine the relationship between the learner, their credentials, and their lifelong potential.”


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In addition to developing these new micro-pathways, Citizens’ funding will be used by each college to pilot, through additional experimentation and documentation, one of five “strategic levers”, uncovered through the Lab’s work and identified as critical to the successful deployment of micro-pathways. This targeted research will generate important strategic playbooks and resources that can be broadly used by community colleges across the country looking to develop micro-pathway programs and optimize their impact and efficacy.

Citizens Financial Group

Citizens Financial Group, Inc. is one of the nation’s oldest and largest financial institutions, with $222.3 billion in assets as of March 31, 2023. Headquartered in Providence, Rhode Island, Citizens offers a broad range of retail and commercial banking products and services to individuals, small businesses, middle-market companies, large corporations and institutions. Citizens helps its customers reach their potential by listening to them and by understanding their needs in order to offer tailored advice, ideas and solutions. In Consumer Banking, Citizens provides an integrated experience that includes mobile and online banking, a full-service customer contact center and the convenience of approximately 3,400 ATMs and approximately 1,100 branches in 14 states and the District of Columbia. Consumer Banking products and services include a full range of banking, lending, savings, wealth management and small business offerings. In Commercial Banking, Citizens offers a broad complement of financial products and solutions, including lending and leasing, deposit and treasury management services, foreign exchange, interest rate and commodity risk management solutions, as well as loan syndication, corporate finance, merger and acquisition, and debt and equity capital markets capabilities. More information is available at www.citizensbank.com or visit us on Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook

Education Design Lab (EDL)

The Lab is a national nonprofit that co-designs, prototypes, and tests education-to-workforce models through a human-centered design process focused on understanding learners’ experiences, addressing equity gaps in higher education, and connecting new majority learners to economic mobility. The Community College Growth Engine, led by Dr. Lisa Larson, is a design accelerator set up just before the pandemic to help community colleges lean into a future role as regional talent agents. We want to thank the Charles Koch Foundation, Walmart.org, and the Walton Family Foundation for their early investment as well as the Arizona Community Foundation, Jeffrey H. and Shari L. Aronson Family Foundation, Ascendium Education Group, The Beacon Foundation, Bloomberg Philanthropies, Carnegie Corporation of New York, Citizens, deLaski Family Foundation, Garcia Foundation, Patrick J. McGovern Foundation, and the ZOMA Foundation. Learn more: www.eddesignlab.org.

Photo credit: Mike Krautter.

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