Guided Pathways Award Program FAQ

The 2017-18 California State Budget has provided $150 million in one-time grants to seed the expansion of the Guided Pathways framework across the California Community Colleges over the next five years. These funds will complement and augment existing financial support provided by various statewide initiatives such as the Student Success and Support Programs (SSSP), Student Equity Planning, the Basic Skills Initiative, and the Strong Workforce Program. For more information on the California Guided Pathways Award program, please visit About Guided Pathways

The California Guided Pathways Demonstration Project is a competitive program consisting of 20 California community colleges who were selected (based on specific criteria) to participate in a pilot program to implement an integrated, institution-wide approach to student achievement by creating structured educational experiences that support each student from point of entry to attainment of high-quality postsecondary credentials and careers. 

The Demonstration Project has a clearly-defined model, timeframe, and terms of participation, and is being managed by national experts and informed by a California- based advisory committee. Please click here for a list of colleges participating in the Demonstration Project. 

The $150 million provided in the state budget for Guided Pathways will support one-time awards (allocated over five years) to colleges to implement the Guided Pathways framework. Sufficient funding is available to support awards for all 114 California community colleges. Participating colleges will integrate recent state investments and redesign academic pathways in ways that promote better course-taking decisions, minimize achievement gaps, and increase the number of students who earn a certificate or degree. The Chancellor’s Office and the Board of Governors will be responsible for statewide implementation of the California Guided Pathways Award Program.  The funding formula is in the process of being finalized; however, the Chancellor’s Office will ensure that colleges will have ample time to plan and expend the awards thoughtfully and effectively. 

The Award Program refers to the funding associated with participating as in the California Community College Guided Pathways effort. The reform effort is much more expansive than just the fiscal augmentation, so the two endeavors are distinguished by different names. 
Drawing on research conducted by the Community College Research Center as well as the experience of several national organizations, the national Guided Pathways initiative led by the American Association of Community Colleges grouped the essential, evidence-based practices of Guided Pathways into four dimensions or “Four Pillars”: (1) Clarify the Path, (2) Enter the Path, (3) Stay on the Path, and (4) Ensure Learning. These pillars serve as a foundation for the Demonstration Project and an adaptable and informational framework for the Guided Pathways Award Program. For more information on the four pillars and Guided Pathways, CCCCO website

No. Colleges can and are encouraged to implement Guided Pathways through a variety of support structures. The Award Program complements the Demonstration Project and the AACC Pathways model. Colleges participating in the Demonstration Project will be well-poised to continue this work with funding provided through the state budget. In addition, due to the work that they have already done, colleges participating in the Demonstration Project are likely to be able to commence work sooner and benefit from the Award Program’s robust set of technical assistance and support.

Twenty percent (20%) of the total allocation will be distributed equally among all participating colleges. Thirty-five percent (35%) of the total allocation will be distributed based on the percentage of full-time equivalent students at each participating college. Forty-five percent (45%) of the total allocation will be distributed based on the percentage of students at each participating college that would qualify to receive federal Pell Grants.  The 150 million dollars allocated for Guided Pathways will be more heavily invested to colleges earlier during the five year period; however, the exact allocations are still being finalized. 

The one-time Guided Pathways Award Program appropriation will be allocated incrementally through June 30, 2022. 

National research on colleges who have implemented Guided Pathways shows that it generally takes four to five years for an institution to implement the model because it requires a comprehensive and transformative institutional commitment. Typically, the first year involves high-level planning and communicating vision and goals for change. The second year involves setting the foundation for implementation and change. The third year involves large-scale implementation including policy and procedural reform. In the fourth year, implementation is refined and expanded upon, and in the fifth year, processes for evaluation and improvement are determined to inform future efforts and refinement.
An institutional match will not be required. Colleges are expected to use and implement the Guided Pathways framework to implement changes that will be sustained long after the one-time awards end. These changes will likely integrate multiple funding streams and college-wide efforts.  The Guided Pathways awards are intended to support planning, redesign, and implementation, but the ongoing efforts will be supported by the entire college budget. Colleges will monitor and report on their progress towards implementation annually during the five-year period, and will be funded accordingly. Colleges are encouraged to consider the ways that current resources through Equity, SSSP, BSI, and local funding may also be leveraged for this work. Annual goals linked to college-level indicators of progress will culminate in five-year goals.
Guided Pathways is not a new program or initiative but is rather a planning framework for colleges to bring together and scale effective programs, services, activities that currently exist into structures that include all students. Guided Pathways requires a whole-college transformational reform, which entails a breaking-down of silos and more dynamic collaboration between faculty, administrators, and staff. The Guided Pathways framework will help colleges to integrate the best aspects of all the initiatives into cohesive strategies that help more students get to and through college.

No. The $150 million in awards is a catalyst for Guided Pathways implementation in that the funds support robust campus planning and redesign efforts. Ongoing support for the cohesive, full-scale student success strategies that emerge from Guided Pathways efforts will be supported by the ongoing funding colleges receive to support instruction and services. Some organizational reforms may not incur additional costs, but the funding supports those changes that do require additional funding.

Guided Pathways is about improving the structure of campus programs and services to help more students make it to and through college. This redesign effort will help colleges direct and leverage existing resources to maximize the impact of student success.

The application process includes three requirements: attendance at an IEPI workshop on the self-assessment process; the completion of the Guided Pathways self-assessment; the completion of a Guided Pathways multi-year work plan. Funding will be allocated in spring of 2017. 

The Chancellor’s Office will release the Guided Pathways Self-Assessment by September 5, 2017.  It can be found at this website, and it requires the college MIS identification number and the same password used for the IEPI indicator submissions. The first annual self-assessment will be due by December 23, 2017. The first Guided Pathways multi-year work plan will be due by March 30, 2018. Once notified of the receipt of both of these and confirmation of attendance at the IEPI workshop, colleges can expect funds to be released by April of 2018. The self-assessment process will also be supported by Institutional Effectiveness Partnership Initiative (IEPI) activities, which will be part of ongoing CCCCO efforts to support Guided Pathways implementation.  These include but are not limited to workshops, the Guided Pathways ASK (Applied Solutions Kit), a field guide, college support teams, and alternative learning strategies. 

Participating colleges will be expected to file annual reports over the five-year course of the Award Program in order to maintain eligibility in the Award Program. 

Colleges already participating in the implementation of Guided Pathways may use their work to date to help inform the self-assessment and multi-year work plan.  The twenty colleges participating in the Demonstration Pilot will be contacted regarding the details of their self-assessment. 

The Chancellor’s Office is committed to providing robust support and assistance to colleges through all phases of planning and implementation. In the coming weeks, the Chancellor’s Office will provide additional information about the range of workshops, professional development, and tools that will be shared with college personnel. Currently, we are working with external partners, including Career Ladders Project, The RP Group, the Success Center, 3CSN, and Academic Senate to develop these resources. These resources will support colleges at all phases of their work from early discovery of Guided Pathways to scaled implementation.

Capacity-building for Guided Pathways will leverage the infrastructure established through IEPI and its partners. Examples include the following:

  1. Workshops and trainings:  Beginning in fall 2017, the Chancellor’s Office will sponsor a series of webinars; workshops, including regional, action-oriented workshops; and more intensive, capacity-building activities to colleges that can support the launch, rollout, and implementation of the Guided Pathways initiative throughout the state over time. Workshops will be facilitated by the IEPI Guided Pathways team with support from the Chancellor’s Office Division of Institutional Effectiveness. Workshops will be designed for colleges that are new to or just beginning their Guided Pathways work. Workshop attendance is required at one of the six regional sessions for all colleges that are not participating in the national or Demonstration Project efforts. After these workshops take place, workshops for clusters of colleges who are in similar stages of Guided Pathways readiness will be made available. Individual colleges will also be able to request more targeted assistance where needed. A webinar is planned for the California Guided Pathways and the AACC Pathways efforts.

  2. GP Capacity-Building Teams: Teams of faculty, staff, and administrators specifically focused and trained on Guided Pathways to visit colleges and support their process toward implementation. 

  3. Applied Solution Kit (ASK): The Guided Pathways ASK is one of a set of resources to be made available on the Professional Learning Network. The ASK will be tailored to the complexities of our system, and will offer a coherent and interdependent set of resources (capacity-building activities, technical assistance, tools, and promising practices). 

  4. Field Guide: A guide to support the questioning and process of working through implementation and reflection at each stage of development.  

  5. Alternative Learning: These may include online modules to support the content and process of transformational change, leadership, and Guided Pathways.

As we continue to develop capacity building resources, the Chancellor’s Office endeavors to mobilize local talent at colleges and districts to facilitate Guided Pathways preparation and implementation. In addition, the state program will actively seek out materials, expertise, and lessons learned from the national AACC Pathways Project and the Demonstration Project.

Please contact the Chancellor’s Office at the following email address:

Colleges will be including key performance indicators in future reporting.  These indicators are currently being finalized and will be shared within the coming weeks and at the self-assessment workshops sponsored by IEPI.  The indicators closely align with those used in the national Guided Pathways framework.  
This academic year of 2017-2018 will create a baseline year for the key performance indicators on Guided Pathways, and colleges will report on those indicators annually. 
For the first year, colleges will need to complete the application process noted above, and in subsequent years, colleges will need to provide annual updates regarding the depth and impact of implementation.  Those reports are currently in development. 
The Chancellor’s Office, specifically the Educational Services and Support unit, will monitor and administrate the Awards program. 
The FAQs will be continuously revised to respond to questions from the field. Visit the California Community Colleges Guided Pathways website for periodic updates and additional support information that can be used locally