MCAAD and Coursera Launch the American Dream Academy, America’s Largest Tuition-Free Online Skills Program for Underemployed Workers

  • New initiative from the Milken Center for Advancing the American Dream and Coursera offers free skills training to 200,000 underserved young Americans valued at approximately $100M
  • Learners can choose courses designed by Google, IBM, Meta, and other leading companies and receive academic credit and guaranteed admission at Western Governors University

The Milken Center for Advancing the American Dream (“MCAAD”) and Coursera, one of the world’s largest online learning platforms, launched The American Dream Academy, a new, free initiative that will equip up to 200,000 Americans with the skills needed to increase their career options or put them on a path to continuing their education.

MCAAD’s mission to broaden access to the American Dream is being realized through a series of programs with corporate and non-profit partners that will provide Americans with skills and tools to increase their chances of higher-quality, higher-paid employment. The Academy, designed and built by MCAAD and Coursera, will provide free certified skills training to underserved Americans nationwide to advance social and economic mobility in the digital economy.

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The fast-changing requirements for employment demand equipping the American workforce with the right skills and tools. Ninety-one percent of U.S. businesses accelerated their digitization plans in 2020, but skills among the workforce have not transformed at the same pace.1 The Academy’s mission is to lead the way in helping companies upskill Americans for the evolving world of work and to position learners for the improved job paths and increased earning potential they need to access their American Dreams.

“Our mission with this partnership is to give underemployed young Americans the opportunity to learn skills that will qualify them for higher-level employment, so they are better positioned to prosper and work toward their ultimate dreams. Simultaneously, the program will provide a steady stream of talent to companies that want to diversify their workforce and focus workforce training on skills for the future, not the past,” said Dr. Kerry Healey, President of MCAAD. “We encourage businesses across America to join us and Coursera in expanding opportunities to underserved youth to ensure a skilled workforce for the future.”

The Academy’s program consists of three components: coursework that leads to a certification in an in-demand technical skill; coursework focused on workplace skills including communication, critical thinking, and developing a growth mindset; and learner supports, such as community initiatives, to help learners progress through the courses. Learners will begin the program by sharing their aspirations, assessing their strengths, and setting clear goals after completion of the program.

“We are honored to partner with MCAAD to launch The American Dream Academy and enable 200,000 U.S. workers to develop the skills and credentials needed to advance their education and enter high-growth digital careers,” said Jeff Maggioncalda, Coursera CEO. “This type of institutional collaboration, offering skills training at no cost to underserved communities, will be critical to revitalizing the American Dream and building a more equitable workforce in the digital economy.”

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The Academy will offer entry-level certificates created by some of America’s largest companies, including Google, IBM, and Meta that equip learners who do not possess a college degree or technical experience for well-paying digital jobs in high-demand sectors. This includes access to content like Google Career Certificates, which prepare graduates for in-demand jobs in the high growth fields of data analytics, IT support, project management, and user experience (UX) design, and support Spanish language learners. There are currently 1.3M open jobs across the U.S. in these career fields, with an average entry-level salary of $69,000.

“Every young adult should have the opportunity to succeed in their career, and The American Dream Academy will help thousands realize their full economic potential,” said Lisa Gevelber, Founder, Grow with Google. “We’re proud to support this initiative by providing access to our Google Career Certificates, industry-recognized credentials that are accepted by over 150 employers—including, SAP, Verizon, Wayfair, and of course Google—who look to hire from the program.”

Many entry-level certificates from Google and IBM have ACE®️ Credit Recommendation, enabling more flexible pathways to pursue a college degree. Learners who complete a certificate are eligible to receive up to 12 college credits from participating colleges and universities in the U.S., or the equivalent of four college courses at the associate’s degree level. Western Governors University will offer guaranteed admission to many of its career-aligned bachelor’s degree programs.

Those who complete the program will earn an American Dream Scholars Badge. The Academy intends to build an online community of successful participants who can provide a support network for one another and help fund others through this program over time.

“The American Dream Academy’s mission to support skills education, especially for underserved populations in the U.S., will help diversify our future workforce,” said Charles H. DeBow, III, Executive Director of the National Black Chamber of Commerce. “The National Black Chamber of Commerce is proud to partner on this nationwide initiative and create fantastic opportunities for economic mobility. We encourage our members and their businesses to utilize these scholarships and prepare our communities for the evolution of work.”

The American Dream Academy also has partnerships with EY, IBM, Meta, SV Academy, University of North Texas, Welcome.US, and Western Governors University.

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CourseraGoogle Career CertificatesMCAADonline learning platformsThe American Dream Academyworkforce training
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