Sept. 28, 2020

Project Seeks New Ways for Service Members to Earn Credentials  

A coalition of national education and veteran advocacy organizations has announced that the Kansas Board of Regents is one of four pilot sites in a new initiative that will help service members and veterans apply their military-based skills and training toward civilian credentials.

The coalition, which comprises five organizations, is supporting the Military Credentialing Advancement Initiative (MCAI). The goal of MCAI is to ensure that the high-quality learning that is gained by service members can be fully recognized, counted toward a credential and scaled at a national level.

Each of the four pilot sites are leveraging one-year grants between $150,000 and $200,000. They are using funds to build pathways that will allow service members and veterans—particularly men and women of color—to apply the skills and credentials they gained in service toward continued education and employment as civilians.

“The Kansas Board of Regents is excited to participate in the Military Credentialing Advancement Initiative and collaborate with the other partners in building these new credential pathways,” said KBOR President and CEO Blake Flanders. “The Kansas higher education system is a national leader in articulating military service and skills into credit at colleges and universities, and this initiative will enhance our efforts.”

The MCAI pilot pathways grant recipients are:

  • Kansas Board of Regents
  • UWUA Power for America Training Trust Fund
  • Indiana Wesleyan University
  • Lone Star College

Technical assistance for the grantees will be provided by SOLID, LLC.

Statistics show that, of the roughly 200,000 veterans who enter the civilian workforce each year, only about 50,000 have the credentials they need to land good jobs with family-sustaining wages. Though the Department of Defense and Uniformed Services have taken steps to remedy this, more than 70% of former servicemen and women still must retrain, requalify or start over in education.

This is especially true for service members of color, who make up 43% of the active-duty force. One reason is this: More than half of Black, Hispanic and Native American service members are clustered in four occupations that lack clear paths to civilian credentials and jobs: food service, supply administration, combined personnel and administration, and warehousing and equipment handling.

Also, only 57% of veterans say they hold a non-degree credential, and less than 2.5% of active-duty members in 2016 had completed a degree program. These figures show that lack of recognition of learning continues to hamper service members and veterans as they pursue further education and employment.

The MCAI pilot sites are supported by a coalition of five organizations:

  • The American Legion
  • Ascendium Education Group
  • Greater Texas Foundation
  • Lumina Foundation
  • Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors

Ascendium’s funding will support a detailed evaluation of the pilot initiative as it unfolds over 18 months. The formative evaluation, which will be conducted by an independent research firm, DVP-Praxis, seeks to highlight the lessons MCAI grantees learn as they map military competencies and build new credential pathways.


About the Kansas Board of Regents
The nine-member Kansas Board of Regents is the governing board of the state’s six universities and the statewide coordinating board for the state’s 32 public higher education institutions (six state universities, one municipal university, nineteen community colleges, and six technical colleges). In addition, the Board administers the state’s student financial aid, adult education, high school equivalency, and career and technical education programs. Private proprietary schools and out-of-state institutions are authorized by the Kansas Board of Regents to operate in Kansas.

About MCAI
The Military Credentialing Advancement Initiative (MCAI) seeks to develop new pathways to credentials for service members and veterans. MCAI’s goal is to recommend principles and guidelines that credential providers should follow to ensure that all verified, validated military-based learning counts toward high-quality civilian credentials.