Building Resiliency in Rural Communities for the Future of Work

Authors: Libbie Brey, Emi Fujita-Conrads, Michelle Hodara, and Meredith Archer Hatch.
June 2024

Preparing Students for the Digital Economy

Rural-serving community colleges play a crucial role in their communities, being uniquely positioned to serve as regional hubs of economic development by providing the education and credentials needed in the local job market. In 2020, Achieving the Dream (ATD) launched the Building Resiliency in Rural Communities initiative to support a cohort of seven rural colleges. ATD developed the initiative in recognition of these institutions’ important role in advancing the well-being of students, their families, and their communities. The initiative’s goals included preparing and connecting students to careers in the digital economy, identifying and closing equity gaps, developing and strengthening community partnerships, and fostering a culture of evidence.

ATD partnered with Education Northwest to conduct a participatory evaluation of the initiative. The resulting brief details the evaluation findings with a specific focus on the role of community colleges in preparing and connecting students to careers in the digital economy. The brief details four key strategies that can help community colleges as they work to improve students’ access to technology, digital skills, and well-paying jobs:

  • Align digital skills efforts with other initiatives to support shared understanding and sustainability
  • Assess students’ digital skills to understand and address fragmented knowledge and equity gaps in access to technology
  • Provide varied opportunities to acquire digital skills and focus on adaptability and problem-solving
  • Work with community partners to expand capacity to support digital skills

The brief provides examples of what these strategies look like across college campuses and an appendix with resources to support digital skill development.

Download Brief