Amarillo, Texas

Amarillo College

Located in the Texas Panhandle, Amarillo College (AC) is a community college serving over 10,000 students. AC embraces a clear theory of change: by addressing a life barrier in an accelerated learning environment through a deep culture of caring, students complete. In May 2021, Amarillo College was named a “Rising Star” institution by the Aspen Institute, recognizing the institution as one of the top five community colleges in the nation for its work to improve student success. 


The Carl & Marilynn Thoma Foundation’s $1 million grant—the largest the Foundation has made to date—supports the AC’s innovative Adams Earn & Learn Program, a multiyear effort to accelerate work-based learning in the Texas Panhandle region. The pilot program will create a proof of concept for healthcare and STEM programs with the long-term goal of expanding work-based learning opportunities into all program areas. The Thoma Foundation grant will support stipends for STEM and healthcare students, and project evaluation.

Community Served:

More than 300 students will be served in the first year of the program, which launches in fall of 2021. Amarillo College aims to reach 10,000 candidates by 2030. With the program’s broad eligibility, Amarillo College and the Thoma Foundation are confident that the program will transform the lives of underemployed adults in the Texas Panhandle. Providing an alternative to traditional four-year college, Amarillo College will also open fast-track pathways for local high school students into high-earning, desirable careers.

In the News:

Amarillo College receives grant to help fund Earn & Learn program

AC Launches New Adams Earn & Learn Program

A Culture of Caring

In College and Homeless

Why we partnered with Amarillo College:

  • AC’s history of innovative student success initiatives, including the nationally recognized Culture of Caring initiative, and reputation for being a role model institution eager to share its success playbook

  • Entrepreneurial leadership at Amarillo College, including President Russell Lowery-Hart and Vice President of Strategic Initiatives Cara Crowley

  • The program’s potential to disrupt higher education by creating a proof of concept for work-based learning across all program areas, align the workforce to current local market labor needs, and future-proof the workforce by building relevant technology skills, making Amarillo and the broader Texas Panhandle an attractive location for new economic development and a wonderful place to live