Today’s students are preparing for current jobs as well as future career opportunities that we cannot even imagine. As they navigate their educational options, more students are choosing to incorporate credentials as all or part of their postsecondary educational pathway.

Since credentials often offer a quicker route to a higher-paying job, many foundations are increasingly interested in funding credentials as part of their postsecondary portfolio. When these credentials are stackable to additional degree plans that demonstrate a clear career trajectory, not just a single job opportunity, they can serve as an important economic mobility tool.

Unfortunately, the sheer quantity of options of individual credentials and programs offering them can deter funders who want to ensure that they are supporting quality options for students. While bachelor’s and associate’s degrees are relatively well-defined categories, the realm of certificates and credentials can be less crisply delineated.

To assist funders new to this space, a team of colleagues and I have developed a funder’s primer to quality credentials. Published as a resource from the Data Impact Group under the Grantmakers for Education banner, the primer is available on our website and the GFE website.

We hope you will find it beneficial, and we would love to hear your thoughts.

About the Author

An image of Jenny Achilles, Trellis Foundation's Director of Partnerships and Programs.

Ms. Achilles joined Trellis Foundation (then Trellis Company/TG) in 2013 with nearly a decade of higher education service in various capacities, including student affairs and study abroad advising. Ms. Achilles serves on the Central Texas Education Funders Network steering committee and as co-chair for the Grantmakers for Education Data Impact Group. She previously served on the Membership Committee for the National Scholarship Providers Association from 2015-2017. She also leads the board of directors for a nonprofit dance and wellness studio in Austin.

She earned a bachelor’s of science in communication from Lamar University and master’s degrees from the University of Texas at Austin in journalism and public policy, with a focus on nonprofit studies.