Tulsa Community College case study: Helping underserved populations achieve greater economic mobility

Case Study3 min read

September 14, 2023


Once renowned as the “Oil Capital of the World,” Tulsa, Oklahoma, has undergone a transformation from its historic petroleum-driven economy into a hub for high-growth, technology-driven sectors. Today, Tulsa is home to major players in the energy, aerospace, manufacturing, and tech industries, as the city strives to honor its past while simultaneously forging a sustainable future.

In its Tulsa Tech Niche study, which seeks out promising opportunities for the city, Tulsa Innovation Labs (TIL) has identified data analytics and cybersecurity as two pivotal areas for job creation. The demand for professionals in these fields, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, shows no signs of slowing down. Information security, for instance, is experiencing rapid growth, with projections indicating a 33 percent increase in demand between 2020 and 2030. 1 Likewise, data analytics positions are anticipated to grow by 31 percent during the same time frame. 2 


As a part of 2U Inc., the parent company of edX’s growing Access Partnership initiative, a collaboration was forged with Tulsa Community College (TCC) and Tulsa Innovation Labs (TIL) in 2022. This partnership was established to provide adult learners in the Tulsa area with access to no cost pathways leading to job-relevant skills in data analytics and cybersecurity, ultimately opening doors to transformative career opportunities. The primary aim of this program is to bolster the technical talent pool in the Tulsa region, with a specific emphasis on assisting women, BIPOC individuals, and lower-income professionals in securing more prosperous economic futures.

In the inaugural cohorts of the program, 40 learners from diverse backgrounds, including blue-collar workers, military veterans, women re-entering the workforce, and individuals from the Cherokee Nation, embarked on part-time enrollment in TCC’s online cybersecurity and data science boot camps. Furthermore, an additional 80 seats have already been allocated for each discipline for 2023, bringing the total to 200 seats during the program’s initial launch period.

Tulsa Innovation Labs is committed to making big investments where opportunities for traditionally underserved Tulsans overlap with industries in which Tulsa has a right to win,” said Nicholas Lalla, managing director of Tulsa Innovation Labs. “This initiative is a home run on both counts, and will be a game-changer in how the city leverages its unique competitive advantages to give Tulsans from every background a chance to access a high-paying career in cyber and data analytics.”


The inaugural cohorts celebrated a remarkable graduation rate of 89.7%. After learners have successfully completed their boot camp, learners continue to benefit from the extensive network of support and benefits offered by the program. Graduates gain access to a comprehensive set of career services, a standard feature of edX boot camps. This empowers them to establish direct connections with local employers, increasing their chances of securing new job opportunities.

Additionally, graduates have the option to continue their education journey and have their boot camp experience recognized as credit toward an associate degree at Tulsa Community College (TCC) or one of TCC’s partner institutions, such as Oklahoma State or the University of Tulsa. Moreover, learners have also transitioned into full-time paid assistantship roles, enabling them to gain valuable on-the-job experience before securing permanent positions.

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  1. Occupational Outlook Handbook: Information Security Analysts. (2022). U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics. Retrieved September 14, 2024.
  2. Occupational Outlook Handbook: Information Security Analysts. (2022). U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics. Retrieved September 14, 2024.

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