ALMA — Alma College is one of only 25 colleges and universities from around the country that have been selected to participate in the inaugural cohort of the Work-Based Learning (WBL) Consortium, through the Council of Independent Colleges (CIC).

The WBL Consortium will provide a national community of practice to support institutions in easing student barriers to internship access and job market preparation, particularly for students from under-represented groups, the CIC stated. This multi-year program is expected to reach more than 11,000 students and will be administered free of charge to the selected colleges and universities.

“A key tenet of Alma College’s mission is to prioritize experiential learning opportunities for our students from the time they set foot on campus,” Provost Sean Burke said. “That’s why we’re excited to provide students with resources through this program, which integrates real-world, employer-designed projects into already-existing courses at Alma College.”

In conjunction with Riipen, an experiential learning platform and work-based learning marketplace that connects students with real-world projects and employers, the CIC will work with a team of five faculty members, one career services administrator and the chief academic officer at Alma College to update curricula and integrate experiential learning into course materials beginning spring 2024.

Throughout the program, CIC will also collect data and report on the work-based learning landscape at the participating institutions and the impact of the projects on students, faculty members and employers.

Students from under-represented groups will particularly benefit from the program, Burke said. The WBL Consortium will be fueled by an innovative online platform that integrates virtual work-based learning experiences into an institution’s existing curricula and student coursework. The WBL Consortium will also provide professional development tools for faculty members and help build partnerships between faculty members and employers, with the goal of designing appropriate student projects that support and reinforce the learning objectives of specific courses.

“We are heartened by the CIC’s emphasis on easing barriers to success and creating more equitable and accessible work-based learning opportunities for our students,” Burke said. “Through Alma College’s participation in the WBL Consortium, I am confident that a wider range of our students will feel more engaged and have better success in securing jobs in a desired field once they graduate.”