NCC Awarded Grand Prize in U.S. Department of Education’s National Challenge

    The challenge aimed to address equity and access barriers.


    The U.S. Department of Education has announced Northampton Community College as grand-prize winner in its Rethink Adult Ed Challenge, a $750,000 competition to advance pre-apprenticeships. The challenge judging panel — which brought together experts in adult education, workforce development, and social services — selected the college from 85 submissions representing 31 states, Guam, and the District of Columbia.

    Through the national challenge, the department aimed to address equity and access barriers and drive greater and more diverse participation in apprenticeships and the broader workforce.

    As the grand prize winner, NCC will receive $250,000 and speak at the Department of Education’s Sept. 23 virtual workshop for adult education providers. The workshop will share learnings from the challenge and preview the department’s Creating Adult Pre-Apprenticeships course — accessible to providers across the United States.

    “The Rethink Adult Ed Challenge proved the demand for training opportunities that are responsive to the evolving needs of American businesses — and our adult learners,” said Dr. Miguel Cardona, Secretary of Education. “I had the privilege of visiting Northampton a few weeks ago. I was so impressed by the sense of community at the school and how the school collaborates and innovates to make sure all students have a clear path to reach their full potential and accomplish their goals.”

    NCC was recognized for its work to develop a manufacturing pre-apprenticeship to help participants build academic, digital, and workplace skills. The college’s 240-hour Industrial Maintenance pre-apprenticeship will rapidly connect adults to the world of work by contextualizing reading, writing, speaking, listening, numeracy, workplace, and digital literacy skills with training in a regional high-priority occupation.

    The pre-apprenticeship will place an enhanced focus on competencies such as basic employability skills and workplace knowledge that adults need to obtain and retain jobs and advance to higher-paying jobs. Integration with the Title II Adult Education program, with emphasis on recruiting English language learners, allows students to co-enroll in the pre-apprenticeship and earn industry-recognized credentials in addition to Adult Education credentials.

    “We are honored to be recognized by the Department of Education and Secretary Cardona through the Rethink Adult Ed Challenge,” said Mark Erickson, NCC president. “We appreciate the importance of apprenticeships and pre-apprenticeships to address the workforce needs of manufacturers in our region and work in close partnership with area employers as part of our efforts.”

    For more information about the Rethink Adult Ed Challenge, and to register for the workshop, visit