California’s Career Advancement Academies

The Career Advancement Academies enabled underserved Californians – including students who were the first in their families to attend college and students from low-income families or communities of color – to enroll in higher education and pursue credentials related to workforce and industry needs.

Operating from 2007 to 2017, the CAAs aimed to increase the supply of middle-skill workers by serving underprepared adults ages 18 to 30 whose reading, writing, and math skills shut them out of postsecondary education and high-wage jobs. CAAs supported students by building foundational skills for completing postsecondary education and entering a career.

CLP conceptualized the CAA framework and worked with the California Community College Chancellor’s Office (CCCCO) to launch the statewide CAA initiative, designed to provide more structured educational experiences for students facing multiple barriers to postsecondary education. Early on, CLP forged a public/private partnership with the CCCCO and California philanthropic organizations— including the James Irvine Foundation, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the Walter S. Johnson Foundation, and the Bay Area Workforce Funding Collaborative—to support capacity building and coordination for the overall CAA initiative.

Rather than creating new infrastructures, CAAs seek to rework the system for delivering career education by integrating it into existing services. As such, the CAAs are not a “model” replicated uniformly across colleges, but rather a framework of common elements that provides each college the space for innovation in its interpretation and implementation.

CAA Partners