The Evergreen State College (Evergreen) launched a new educational path to workplace success this fall by offering a certificate program for persons who want to learn about business, entrepreneurship and management, without obtaining a college degree.
“We are building out professional and continuing education curricula, starting with 15 certificates,” says Lori Blewett, interim dean of the new Professional and Continuing Education (PACE) programs. “It’s geared to returning adult students and community members who may not be interested in completing a degree but want a stand-alone credential and resume-building for career advancement.”
Evergreen College’s Four Certificates for Business, Management and Entrepreneurship
Four of the new certificates relate to business, management and entrepreneurship, and are the first in a series of innovative credentials Evergreen is rolling out over the next few years. The four are nonprofit administration, sustainable cooperative development, transformative leadership and promotional video. The part-time classes are mostly online, and some on weekends, targeted to adult learners and working professionals.
Evergreen faculty member Doreen Swetkis teaches public administration and says that she had collected information from stakeholders and alumni on what PACE should cover. Management, Evergreen style, was the number one recommended, she says, along with six or seven other related topics. “It’s about people and justice and the environment. Being a manager for the people who come to work.”
Blewett says the college also tapped the Pacific Mountain Regional Workforce Development Council, a nonprofit supporting businesses, employers and job seekers in Grays Harbor, Lewis, Mason, Pacific and Thurston counties. Blewett says they learned that when workers lack management or related skills preferred by businesses and organizations, but those workers don’t have time or resources to obtain a full degree, that’s a barrier to job progress and retention.
Swetkis says faculty then created the idea of stand-alone certificates. And Blewett says these credentials help connect college curricula to careers and workforce demand. “Our hope is that the certificate program will help people move up, promote internally,” Blewett explains.
Blewett says only a handful of colleges offer stand-alone certificates independent of formal degree. About 296 students are registered in a certificate-connected course at Evergreen.
Evergreen College’s Nonprofit Administration Certificate
Courses in the hybrid 20-credit nonprofit administration certificate cover grant writing, fundraising, budgeting, leadership, management, networking and more. Students intern with a nonprofit.
“I envision folks in a nonprofit which got grants, so they hired three people, and now how will they have security so they can stay,” says Swetkis. This credential path provides skills that give their employers reasons to keep and promote those workers.
This focused program helps students elevate a nonprofit career, build and expand their network, develop skills and test ideas collaboratively.
Evergreen College’s Sustainable Cooperative Development Certificate
The college describes the 16-credit online sustainable cooperative development certificate as learning about, “Developing a business plan for a sustainable cooperative enterprise that contributes to a triple bottom line, being a partner and ally for a solidarity economy, starting a cooperative enterprise, and working and communicating effectively in a democratically structured team.” Classes cover the history of cooperatives, introduction to sustainability and business, and include a cooperative development lab.
It’s not just employer and employee interests driving certificate programs. “It’s also growing out of market needs,” says Tamsin Foucrier, faculty member and director of the Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership and Transformational Change. “The sustainable cooperative development certificate was co-designed and is co-taught by the Northwest Cooperative Development Center in Olympia,” she adds. “The center saw a rise in demand for its services during the pandemic.”
Foucrier says Evergreen is building on its history of teaching students to work in a cooperative setting, such as in its student-run collective cafe.
Evergreen College’s Transformative Leadership Certificate
The 20-credit online transformative leadership certificate guides students on how to be a principled and purpose-driven leader. Courses cover communication to inspire, emotional and social intelligence, fostering belonging and inclusion, self-awareness, adaptability, coaching, principles of management and more.
“Transformative leadership was designed with students learning how to lead themselves, then leading others, then leading organizations,” says Foucrier.
“Developing leadership starts with the individual,” adds Blewett.
Evergreen College’s Promotional Video Certificate
The 16-credit online promotional video certificate delivers core skills to create promotional videos for the web and marketing. Classes include video production, project management, messaging strategies, storyboarding, recording, editing and more. “This certificate brings the best traditions of linking what Evergreen is known for around media, which is documentary media,” Blewett says.
Students work with clients to produce a promotional video. By the program’s end they have a portfolio, helping them find and keep jobs. “Individuals will learn about messaging and getting foundational skills,” Blewett adds.
More Information on Evergreen College’s New Certificates
Community members do not have to be admitted students and instead enroll only in PACE programs. Evergreen’s website gives more details on the four new certificates in business, management and entrepreneurship areas, including costs and aid.