Connecting Credentials to Improve Economic Mobility

By Evelyn Ganzglass

CLASP, in partnership with Lumina Foundation and more than 40 other organizations, is cosponsoring a national dialogue on how to transform our nation’s highly diverse and fragmented education and workforce credentialing system into one that is student-centered and learning-based. In such a system all learners would be able to combine high-quality credentials—from badges and certifications to apprenticeships and certificate programs, and all the way through associate and bachelor level degrees and beyond—to fit their needs. Credentials and their value would be easily understandable to inform learners’ education and career planning, including job transitions. Employers would trust credentials as they seek the skilled employees they need to compete globally because credentials would be up-to-date and validated to stay relevant to employer needs and would accurately represent the competencies possessed by credential holders. 

Creating a more interconnected credentialing system with clear pathways to credentials is important to expand opportunity for all people, especially low-income youth and adults seeking to advance in education and their careers. Many go into debt to earn short-term certificates or other credentials that have little value in the labor market and aren’t transferrable within either the education system or the labor market. Watch a recent Spotlight on Poverty and Opportunity interview with Jamie Merisotis, President of Lumina Foundation, in which he discusses the social and economic-equity imperative of creating a more interconnected credentialing system.

We urge you to participate in this conversation in any or all of the following ways: 

  • Sign up to participate in one or more of the upcoming themed online conversations on specific topics related to creating a more connected credentialing system. Click here to see a list of initial online discussion opportunities and to sign up to participate in those of interest. Participation for each is capped at 25 people to ensure those participating can be heard. More sessions will be added if demand warrants.
  • Visit the just-launched “Connecting Credentials” website ( to respond to questions about: credentialing-related challenges facing students, employers, workers, and policymakers; how a transformed system would have to function to accrue real benefits for these users; and what steps each of the stakeholders could take to create a learning-based, student-centered system.
  • Take advantage of the website’s ( robust collection of research and resources on credentialing in the U.S. These resources include CLASP’s  Scaling Stacking Credentials and Giving Credit Where Credit is Due papers, along with a summary of data on credentials. You can also access the Connecting Credentials website from the new credentials page on CLASP’s website. 
  • Provide feedback on how the just-released “Connecting Credentials: A Beta Credentials Framework” ( can be improved to serve as a platform for yet-to-be-developed tools/applications that can be used for connecting credentials and using competencies as the common currency to enhance transparency, comparability, portability, and equity in the credentialing marketplace. The Corporation for a Skilled Workforce (CSW) and CLASP developed this beta framework and are conducting further research to improve its utility for learners, employers, and credential providers.

CLASP and CSW are co-managing the National Dialogue in partnership with Lumina Foundation.