WGU Academy now an independent nonprofit focused on college readiness

New status gives Academy more flexibility to achieve its college readiness mission through partnering with other institutions and grant funding

WGU Academy—a largely independent operating unit of Western Governors University that was established in 2018—today announced that it is now a separate 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation. The Academy’s new status provides greater flexibility to pursue its mission of dramatically scaling college readiness solutions through service agreements and partnerships with other higher education institutions, K–12 schools, community groups, employers, and foundations.

WGU Academy began enrolling students in April 2019 and has already served over 10,000 individuals identified as needing additional preparation before enrolling full time into WGU. The Academy provides a low-risk and low-cost on-ramp to admission into WGU by providing transferable courses, but more importantly by developing students’ essential non-academic competencies: self-awareness and self-efficacy, a sense of belonging and growth mindset, and an increased capacity for ownership and accountability.

WGU Academy began pilot programs with other schools in 2019, and its new status allows the organization to more rapidly expand its ability to help students at community colleges and four-year institutions, in K–12 schools, through online summer bridge programs, and by helping employers develop the academic readiness of their employees—particularly frontline workers for whom postsecondary education is often perceived as out of reach.

“In addition to our ongoing work with WGU, our goal is to expand postsecondary access and equity for hundreds of thousands of students from underserved populations and to align with rapidly changing workforce needs,” said Pat Partridge, President of WGU Academy. “But access isn’t enough. We want to truly develop resilient learners, students who are equipped with the confidence, social and emotional skills, and mindset to reach their academic and career goals.”

Since launching in May 2018, the Academy has conducted pilot initiatives with tnAchieves in support of the Tennessee Promise Program, with Weber County (Utah) in support of an intergenerational poverty program, and with two K–12 districts in North Carolina to support seniors as they prepare to transition to postsecondary programs. The Academy’s staff has grown to over 50 employees to serve its growing enrollment and in preparation for supporting other organizations in the coming year.

“Students are facing tremendous stresses in the current environment,” Partridge said. “Students today must deal with COVID-19, a recession, and other stressors—including personal challenges—and success in college is tenuous at best for a lot of them. WGU Academy can help many students overcome these non-academic barriers.”

Whereas most college readiness efforts focus on remedial preparation for math and language skills, WGU Academy goes beyond that to include transferable college-level courses. More importantly, all students take the course Program for Academic and Career Advancement (PACA) to develop the mental and emotional characteristics of a resilient learner. Modeled on a nationally recognized course used by WGU for several years, PACA uses self-serve modules, group sessions, peer interaction, and one-to-one coaching to build confidence and persistence.

“Unlike traditional advising, which serves important roles,” Partridge said, “the Academy’s coaches and the PACA curriculum

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WGU Aligns to Amazon Web Services (AWS) Framework to Bolster Workforce Relevance of Cloud Computing Degree

Upgrades to cutting-edge online cloud computing program prepare students for in-demand cloud careers

Today, Western Governors University (WGU) announced the launch of key updates to its Bachelor of Science Cloud Computing (BSCC) degree program built in collaboration with Amazon Web Services, Inc. (AWS). The degree program is designed to prepare students with the skills they need to succeed in today’s economy and meet the demands of employers seeking cloud professionals.

WGU’s degree programs are online and competency-based, removing the barriers of time, allowing working learners to study and advance in their degree programs according to their schedules. Students in the BSCC degree program complete their credential on average in 18 months and prepare for industry-recognized certifications that include AWS Certifications along their path to degree.

“The technology skills gap has been exacerbated by a lack of innovation in technology education,” said Dr. Elke Leeds, Dean and Academic Vice President of WGU’s College of Information Technology. “WGU has a deep knowledge of the skills that employers are looking for, and we will continue to innovate in our degree programs and future educational offerings by ensuring that our curriculum meets the demands of learners and employers.”

WGU collaborated with two AWS education programs, AWS Educate and AWS Academy, to update its BSCC degree program. Team members from AWS Educate assisted WGU program developers to embed cloud-specific learning objectives and hands-on experiences into the program with the intent to ensure alignment with the needs of cloud employers. As an AWS Academy member institution, WGU has also incorporated AWS Academy Cloud Operations into its degree, which is a course developed by AWS experts and delivered by AWS accredited educators. As part of the course, students are also required to pass the AWS Certified SysOps – Associate exam.

“Western Governors University is a leading innovator in higher education, and we are proud to deepen our collaboration via this new bachelor of science degree in cloud computing,” said Josh Weatherly, Director of US Education Vertical Sales and Global Programs at AWS. “WGU’s competency-based learning model aligns with our belief in the importance of working backward from the skills employers are seeking while also providing the flexibility of remote learning anywhere in the world. We are excited for WGU’s cloud computing degree help expand and diversify the cloud workforce of tomorrow.”

For more information about WGU and the Bachelor of Science Cloud Computing degree program, visit www.wgu.edu/BSCC.

About WGU

Established in 1997 by 19 U.S. governors with a mission to expand access to high-quality, affordable higher education, online, nonprofit WGU now serves more than 127,000 students nationwide and has more than 202,000 graduates in all 50 states. Driving innovation as the nation’s leading competency-based university, WGU has been recognized by the White House, state leaders, employers, and students as a model that works in postsecondary education. In just 23 years, the university has become a leading influence in changing the lives of individuals and families, and preparing the workforce needed in today’s rapidly evolving economy.

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