As part of its recent strategic planning process, the League for Innovation in the Community College Board of Directors brainstormed a list of current challenges facing community colleges—challenges the League could use in its programming to help its full membership develop and share solutions. The total list included almost 70 issues and challenges from Board members and League representatives, who serve as liaisons between the Board colleges and League staff. A subset of these challenges became what the group termed “issues that keep us awake at night.”

League staff analyzed the list and the nine major themes that emerged are presented here, along with a link to descriptions and other resources about the types of challenges community colleges are facing within each theme. For example, the Equity and Inclusion theme includes challenges such as ensuring access and opportunity enrollment strategies and meeting the needs of underrepresented students. Other themes focus on issues and challenges around courageous leadership, the effects of declining resources on organizational capacity, and educating students for careers that align with business and industry needs.

This exercise was the first phase of an iterative process, so this list is not, nor it is intended to be, final, complete, or exclusive. Community colleges face numerous challenges every day, and the League is committed to increasing awareness of these challenges and helping faculty, staff, and administrators share their experiences as we all work to find innovative, effective solutions that benefit our students and communities.

The second phase of the process is being conducted this spring. The League is vetting the issues on this list with its full membership, initially through discussion sessions at the Innovations Conference, March 1-4, 2020, in Seattle. Additional member input will be sought through a membership survey after the conference.

The nine themes are:

• Equity and Inclusion

• Funding and Revenue Generation

• Leadership Development

• Organizational Capacity

• Politics and Policy

• Safety, Security, and Civility

• Student Success and Completion

• Technology

• Workforce Development

To learn more about these issues and to join the conversation, visit


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