C-BEN can be found leading projects to solve some of higher education’s thorniest challenges to increase access, retention, completion, and employability. Our reputation as a network focused on leading for the greater good can be traced in part to our founding members’ willingness to roll up their sleeves and work together across institutional boundaries on common challenges to building high-quality CBE programs. C-BEN’s founding commitment to collaborative work and creating field-advancing projects aimed at accelerating equity is still evident today and we welcome opportunities to welcome new partners and new work. Below are some of our current projects and previous successes.

Current Projects


Funded by Greater Texas Foundation

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Chancellor’s Office CBE Collaborative

Supporting this state initiative is C-BEN’s technical assistance through professional development, coaching, and support to build and launch CBE direct assessment programs at 8 community colleges.


Interoperability Principles

Learning and Employment Records (LER) provide verified, competency-based, digital records for individuals to share with employers and support a shift to competency-based learning. With the support of Walmart, C-BEN is supporting the growing community of LER stakeholders to develop a common set of interoperability principles and classification to help translate, in common terms, the importance of interoperability to policy makers, educators, employers, and others so LERs can scale.


The Commonwealth Corporation

The Commonwealth Corporation engaged C-BEN to design a cross-sector partnership to upskill and credential existing workers, enhance economic mobility, and help tackle health care staff shortages. Key to the initiative is the design and delivery of an innovative CBE-based health profession credential tailored to the needs of working adults that directly met the needs of employers.


KCTCS tapped C-BEN design and lead the ALIGN project, an 18-month planning project to create an improved educational model to help students gain the knowledge and skills most relevant to current and future state, regional and local workforce needs. C-BEN facilitated six streams of work and engaged over 100 faculty and staff across 16 institutions to develop impelmetation plans.

Past Projects


During the first phase of the Comprehensive Learner Record (CLR) project (2015 – 2017), three institutions developed and implemented a competency-based education program CLR.
From the successful CBE CLR models developed and implemented in phase one, phase two of the project expanded the number of institutions with CLR, and specifically identifies the inclusion of CBE CLR’s. The CLR collaborator:
1. Facilitated the scaling of CLRs in up to 150 colleges and universities. 2. Standardized the components of a CBE transcript/record with 10 participating institutions in this second phase. -Draft standards universal enough to apply to any CBE program, regardless of technology being used. -CBE participating institutions developed a CBE CLR that aligns with standards. 3. Addressed the data integration issue: -Clearly identified the challenges across institutions at various resource levels. -Identified potential solutions appropriate to these levels. 4. Leveraged existing degree audit technologies to track progress toward learning outcomes/competencies.
The resulting report, Standardized Components for a Competency-Based Educational Record can be found under resource library.


This project focused on growing demand for CBE and advancing field capacity to tell the story of CBE. Explaining CBE to key audiences including students, internal stakeholders (faculty/staff/administrators), regulators and policymakers remains a leading challenge for many institutions building programs. This project aimed to build the capacity of C-BEN members to tell their best stories in the most compelling ways to different audiences. Members of the Collaboratory Project 2 produced The CBE Story: A Strategic Storytelling Toolkit. Additionally, this project conducted a national storytelling contest and created an online repository of learner stories.
The CBE Story: A Strategic Storytelling Toolkit
Members of the Collaboratory Project 2 created The CBE Story: A Strategic Storytelling Toolkit. The Storytelling Toolkit is designed to help you communicate more effectively about the purpose, value and results of competency-based education. Inside this useful resource, you’ll find a framework for bringing your CBE story to life. There are activities, prompts, tips and templates to help you tell your best stories to different audiences, including students and families; faculty, staff and administrators; governing boards; regulators and policymakers; and employers. You will also find tools and resources that can aid you in helping others, such as students and faculty, to tell their stories.


This project focused on building field capacity and supporting widespread adoption and skilled use of the CBE Quality Framework in the design, implementation, improvement and scaling of CBE programs. Participants selected for this project participated in refining and testing ancillary resources and training materials to support competent and committed use of the CBE Quality Framework. Members of the Collaboratory Project 1 created the Quality Framework for Competency-based Education Programs: A User’s Guide.
Quality Framework for Competency-Based Education
Programs: A User’s Guide Members of the Collaboratory Project 1 released the Quality Framework for Competency-Based Education Programs: A User’s Guide to assist institutions in using and adopting C-BEN’s “Quality Framework for Competency-Based Education Programs”. As the number of CBE programs continues to grow, many constituents are looking to build high quality CBE programs in accordance with the Quality Framework. This guide is intended to make the Quality Framework more accessible to institutions wishing to use it. Our goal is not to offer a pathway or the “right answers” to developing and/or improving CBE programs, but rather to offer the high-level, high-leverage questions to be considered to accelerate and enable institutional work. The User’s Guide breaks down each of the 8 Elements of Quality and provides key considerations about where institutions should start, including key people to have at the table, resources needed, institutional illustrations, and pro tips.


C-BEN’s early influence on the field, and its fast growing reputation as a network focused on leading for the greater good, can be traced in part to its founding members’ willingness to roll up their sleeves and work together across institutional boundaries on common challenges to building high-quality CBE programs. The C-BEN Collaboratory will deepen and extend C-BEN’s founding commitment to collaborative work, creating time-bound and field-advancing projects aimed at accelerating progress, enhancing learner and program outcomes, and raising the profile of the network and its members.

Collaboratory #5 aimed to produce an equally as helpful Resource Guide for CBE Assessment Practices. Collaboratory participants will collectively seek to:

  • – Identify the hallmarks of high-quality CBE assessment practices and provide agreed upon definitions
  • – Illustrate how hallmark practices are applied through a credential-level strategy example
  • – Explore the range of assessment types that lead to successful demonstration of competence
  • – Identify the evidence needed to show compliance with C-BEN’s Quality Framework for Element #4 (Credential-level Assessment Strategy with Robust Implementation).

The Best-Practices for Competency-Based Assessment was released in October 2021, access our resource library to view.


The Equity Collaboratory Higher education is meant to be an engine of economic opportunity and mobility; yet, for too long, institutions have struggled to provide equitable access and outcomes. Black and Latino populations are underserved by higher education and systemically limited in socioeconomic mobility. Competency-based education (CBE) is an approach that can educate, equip, and empower Black, Latinx, and Native American learners to earn the credentials needed for career advancement. In a 2021 op-ed, Charla Long of C-BEN and Stacey Clawson of JFF argue that “education based on competencies, rather than time alone, has the power to deliver equitable economic advancement. ” We believe that high-quality CBE has the potential to lead to more equitable labor market outcomes for learners because it incorporates many of the features we know to be critical for learner success: flexibility, comprehensive supports, recognition of existing knowledge and skills, and defined pathways from education to work. To fully realize this potential, programs must a) incorporate strategies to recruit and retain learners from populations historically underrepresented in higher education, and b) lead to credentials of value in the labor market. CBE programs are designed to promote mastery of competencies. If those competencies are aligned with labor market demand, graduates will be better positioned for near- term career outcomes and long-term advancement. As a result, a set of institutions developed guidance on critical design features for CBE with equity and quality at the forefront. You can access the guide here.


To improve the way providers of learning engage with employers, this project focused on achieving the following five objectives:

– Articulating the business case for higher education attainment, with emphasis on the business case for institutions ability to recognize non-institutional learning, such as that provided by employers. Collaboratory participants helped develop, pilot, and test tools to show the financial impacts of recognition of non-institutional learning for both postsecondary institutions and employers.

– Identifying best practices for working with employers and industries. Collaboratory participants gained access to leading employers and thinkers in the space of corporate learning and development, and developed tools, resources and practices for CBEN members.

– Credit for prior learning awards were determined by utilizing existing research and frameworks to assess the competencies validated through industry-recognized certifications and work-based training to determine how those competencies could align to degree programs. Targeting employer engagement strategies, this Collaboratory produced 3 field-facing resources — the Employer Engagement Best Practices Toolkit and the ROI Estimator with an accompanying User’s Guide, as well as a report, Creating CBE Pathways: Insights from C-BEN’s Employer Engagement Collaboratory. You can access these reports in the resource library.