Shasta College: Taking Innovation for Postsecondary Attainment to SCAILE

In 2014-2015, the California Budget Act included funds for competitive Innovation in Higher Education Awards to be awarded by the State. The awards recognized innovations at California Community Colleges, UCs and CSUs that improve student success, are sustainable and capable of being scaled across the state.  

Shasta College was honored to earn an Innovation Award that year and we were even more grateful to earn subsequent awards in 2017 and 2018, being the only higher education institution to receive awards in all three years they were offered.  The 2018 program was administered by the Chancellor’s Office. Each of our applications focused on strengthening pathways and educational on-ramps to enhance learning opportunities for diverse populations including:

  • 2015: PATH Program: Accelerated processes for high school students to achieve a bachelor’s degree (Dual Enrollment and Gateway to College)
  • 2017: ACE and BOLD: Two efforts to redesign curriculum, instruction and holistic supports geared to adult learners and those seeking to access BA opportunities in a rural environment
  • 2018: STEP UP:  A partnership program to serve court-involved adults through structured pathways and enhanced supports. 

In each of our Innovation Award applications, we committed to sharing our program designs, and all that we learned, with other colleges throughout the state who have similar goals and desires to serve students in these capacities. We have been actively working towards that goal ever since, but in December 2019, Shasta College President Dr. Joe Wyse realized that it was time to take that promise to the next level. 

That realization came at the California EDGE Coalition’s Forum on Cross-Sector Collaboration to Elevate College Attainment & Close Equity Gaps. Dr. Joe Wyse was speaking on the panel that included participants from the Central Valley Higher Education Consortium (CVHEC) and Unite LA (in partnership with the Los Angeles Community College District). All panelists were tapped because of their dedication to cross sector work to increase attainment and economic development in the regions that they serve.  

Facilitated by Dr. Lande Jose (Senior Policy Advisor for Higher Education, Office of Governor Newsom), as the panel progressed, each of the panelists revealed that their work was also advanced by the Innovation in Higher Education Awards. Each representative on the panel had received an Innovation Award and then decided to focus those funds on collective impact, cross sector collaboration and intersegmental efforts. 

“Everyone on the panel were doing creative things to serve their community and that work was recognized by the Chancellor’s Office,” said Dr. Wyse. “In turn, we all decided to take that work further. This was a profound realization for me, that if communities and colleges are given unrestricted dollars for innovative work, we will do good things with it.” 

Other things in common between the panelists? Shasta College (and their work with North State Together, a collective impact effort in far northern California), CVHEC, and Unite LA, have all been recognized as Lumina Talent Hubs, which is a designation given to communities that are doing extraordinary things to expand learning opportunities and enhance partnerships for economic and community health. 

“I left the panel event and realized that it was time we did more,” added Dr. Wyse. “We have been fortunate to receive the resources associated with these awards. If we could use them to create a space where we shared ideas and the work we were doing, we could enhance our ability to serve our students and help other colleges and communities do the same. It was important before the COVID crisis, and is even more critical now.” 

The outcomes of those realizations include the launch of SCAILE this fall. SCAILE (Shasta College Attainment and Innovation Lab for Equity), is a new initiative to support postsecondary attainment at the local, regional and state level. Partnering closely with North State Together, SCAILE builds off the work of the Innovation Awards at Shasta College and allows us to sustain all that we have learned and gained through the Lumina Talent Hub and Lumina Attainment Network.  

The goal of SCAILE is to create a place where policy, practice, inquiry and applied research are integrated to foster innovation in educational attainment, and the reduction of equity gaps, with a spotlight on the changing dynamics of rural communities.  We think of SCAILE as a Strategy Lab and its goal will be to meaningfully support practitioners, stakeholders and researchers/scholars working to unite communities in pursuit of increased post-secondary attainment and the elimination of equity gaps in who pursues college, thrives once enrolled, and completes a credential. Our results will be measured by policy changes, expanded partnerships and in student outcomes such as:

  • Increased: Postsecondary enrollment, persistence, attainment and corresponding economic outcomes
  • Decreased: Equity gaps, regional attainment gaps

SCAILE will sustain itself through the Innovation Awards funds, grants and partnerships. Current projects/partnerships include: Lumina Talent Hub, North State Together Postsecondary Task Force, Institute for Higher Education Policy Degrees When Due Project and a partnership with the CCC Foundation to support adult learners through Credit for Prior Learning and other engagement strategies. 

SCAILE is led by Dr. Kate Mahar. Kate is the Dean of Innovation and Strategic Initiatives at Shasta College and also directs the Lumina Talent Hub in far northern California. She was a founding member of North State Together and will partner closely with them as SCAILE evolves. Recently on loan to the California Community College Chancellor’s Office to support Guided Pathway and Equity work for all of the colleges in the far north, she is dedicated to regional solutions to support attainment and reduce equity gaps and is excited to explore the policy implications that will assist with these efforts. 

As Joe Wyse said, “we, as a system, have the will and knowledge to do innovative work. If we can create the conditions and build partnerships that allow us to learn from each other and free us to focus on the critical tasks at hand, we can achieve the outcomes we desire for our students and communities.” 

For more information about SCAILE, please contact Kate Mahar (