In 2005, Arkansas began its Career Pathways Initiative, a cross-system model to fund tuition and non-tuition related expenses for low-income, educationally underprepared parents. CPI leverages federal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) dollars through the state’s community college system and enlists support from other state agencies to ensure students have access to resources like transportation, child care, and other non-tuition expenses.


In addition, CPI is not just a funding stream, but a mission-driven initiative. The program requires that a culture of student success be embedded within institutions, and to help achieve that, CPI students are paired with a counselor who helps them navigate their academic pursuits and non-academic needs throughout their course of study.

The model is built on the career pathways principle of meeting students where they are, providing training that is practical and ensuring that training can lead to further education and career options. The model has been a success, and the results are notable:

  • CPI student graduation rates outpace those of all Arkansas community college students.
  • Postgraduate earnings for CPI students are above those of other TANF recipients, and just below non-CPI community college graduates.
  • For every dollar invested in CPI, the state receives a return of $1.79 through growth in the tax base and decreases in public spending that result from increased economic participation of graduates.

The initiative serves students who are current or former recipients of transitional employment assistance (TEA); current recipients of food stamps, ARKIDSS, or Medicaid; or those earning 250 percent of the federal poverty level or less. Individuals must be an adult caretaker, parent or relative of a child living in the home under the age of 21 (fy12 moa). 

Sources: Arkansas Career PATHWAYS; Taliaferro, Wayne. “Arkansas Career Pathways Initiative: Supporting Adult Student Success.” Web. 18 Oct. 2017.


More information:

Willie Murdock, Program Director
501-371-2083  Fax: 501-682-6399