In partnership with the Alliance for Innovation and Transformation (AFIT), the Student Experience Lab is designing and testing new models and next practices for community colleges. These models will address current challenges facing community colleges in order to transform student outcomes and create sustainable higher ed institutions.

Design Challenge

How might we enable community college leaders to explore and test new business models that transform students’ experiences?

Community college is a lynchpin for needed transformational change in our higher education landscape. Nationally there have been conversations around the diminishing returns of higher education— largely driven by increasing costs, decreasing academic relevancy, changing job markets. Even so, many students are seeking postsecondary credentials—whether technical, two-year degrees, bachelor’s or beyond— with hopes of gaining access to increased stability and opportunities. Community colleges have always played an integral role in creating valuable experiences for students on the path to careers and future education. In a system where many students are underserved, there is an opportunity for college leaders to catalyze the development of next practices and new business models to better meet today’s needs.


AFIT’s members know that incremental changes to the way colleges work today are not enough. New transformational practices and business models are needed. Throughout this project BIF is leading six AFIT member schools through a Business Model Design process to create new ways to deliver value to their students and communities. These “early adopters” within AFIT’s network are following BIF’s Methodology to design, prototype and test next practices and new business models that will address challenges facing their institutions. Each design team is lead by the president and dedicated stakeholders from the campus community. Teams will adopt a student-centered lens as a foundation for their designs to reimagine, prototype, and scale approaches that fundamentally transform the student experience. They are addressing design challenges such as:

How might we improve the learner experience for our arts and science transfer students?

How might we become a leader in experiential learning, not just in classrooms, but across the whole campus?

How might we better serve our African American male population and increase retention rates?

Impact Statement

There is an imperative for higher education leaders to build their innovation and design capacity. Across the education landscape, we are seeing the impact of business models that were not designed with students in mind. If we aren’t addressing students’ true job-to-be-done(JTBD), they will disengage or find other opportunities that better suit their needs. In higher education, there are clear examples of this— from shifts in student motivation and participation to students dropping out before graduating or receiving credentials.

BIF’s process will help leaders build capacity in Business Model Design and our repeatable Methodology and Playbook will provide them with the tools they need to build capacity across their institution to better address their community’s JTBD. When leaders are comfortable continually exploring and testing new approaches, they will catalyze a generation of models that are sustainable and well positioned to help students reach their goals.

Join Us in Transforming Education Together