College Unbound receives $500K grant from Walmart

PROVIDENCE – Local education nonprofit College Unbound recently received a $500,000 grant from prominent retail chain Walmart Inc. to help the organization expand its national library-based pathways to employment and bachelor’s degree completion.

College Unbound says the grant will enable national expansion in three areas. First, Peer to Peer University, which partners with College Unbound, Providence Public Library and Providence Community Libraries to implement credited and credentialed learning circles in urban and rural libraries across the country. It will create paths for students toward completing a bachelor’s degree in any participating library across the U.S., the nonprofit said.

With the grant, College Unbound will also articulate learner-driven, industry-validated pathways based on the building blocks of micro-credentials. It will initially focus on public health credentials to accelerate career advancement for front-line public health workers.

Lastly, College Unbound will use grant funds to partner with The American Council on Education to broaden credit transferability outside Rhode Island, and with the American Association of Colleges and Universities to share learnings from this work across the postsecondary landscape.

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College Unbound says it can bridge the gap between workforce development and completing a bachelor’s degree by enabling postsecondary adoption of a credential and academic credit currency exchange.

James Bessette is the PBN special projects editor, and also covers the nonprofit and education sectors. You may reach him at You may also follow him on Twitter at @James_Bessette