Funding roundup

The advising and counseling center at Grand Rapids Community College. The college will strengthen its advising using a new federal grant. (Photo: GRCC)

Michigan’s Grand Rapids Community College (GRCC) plans to create a more personalized advising system for students, using a five-year, $2.1 million Strengthening Institutions grant from the U.S. Department of Education.

GRCC will use the money to transform its student support efforts, making academic advising more productive while leveraging technology to create a more comprehensive approach to addressing a variety of student needs.

“We embrace every learner who comes through our doors,” said GRCC President Bill Pink. “No matter their journey, it is the college’s aim to prepare them to attain their goals. As our students change and their needs change, so must our college change, always look for ways to be more innovative and responsive.

Using new technologies, GRCC plans to create a system where student data is collected and available through a single interface, giving counselors detailed information, and allowing students to connect in different ways and at times more convenient to them. The system also would use the data to analyze student performance, monitor for indications of struggles, and suggest targeted interventions and support.


Rio Salado College is celebrating big wins at the National Association for Community College Entrepreneurship (NACCE) conference. The college’s Incarcerated Re-Entry (IRE) team won the Fast Pitch Trades Competition, earning a $21,000 prize. The team made a pitch for funding to purchase electronic training kits.

The training kits will help IRE students at two local prisons learn skills that are in high demand in the construction-electric industry, increasing the students’ employment prospects.

“Funding is tight, and we didn’t have the resources to procure these training kits, so this award means a great deal to us and the students we serve,” said Rick Cuprak, faculty chair of applied technology.

The team also took home the People’s Choice Award, which included a $1,000 cash prize.


Riverside City College’s culinary arts program will use a $100,000 grant from the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Division of Workforce and Economic Development to create a short-order cook apprenticeship program. The funding will help offset startup and implementation costs to create the program, which includes recruiting new employers sponsoring apprentices, curriculum development, equipment purchases, apprentice recruitment and incentives for participation.

New York

Rockland Community College (RCC) has received a $3 million federal Developing Hispanic-Serving Institutions Program grant to support the development and implementation of RCC’s five Academic Schools. These five schools will ensure that students have a structured academic path with embedded support services.

“With this funding, we will be able to ensure that every student who enters RCC will develop an academic and career plan that will allow them to be successful in their studies, become ‘real-world ready,’ graduate and go on to pursue a career of their choice,” said RCC President Michael Baston.

The grant is the largest received in the college’s 60-year history.

North Carolina

Davidson County Community College (DCCC) will use a $20,000 award from the Gene Haas Foundation to provide scholarships for students studying machining.

“The Gene Haas Foundation recognizes a need for more highly trained machinists,” Trip Robinson, sales engineer for Haas Factory Outlet, said at the check presentation. “We recently hired a 2019 DCCC graduate and he’s doing great. We want to see more students excel in machining.”

Forsyth Technical Community College, in partnership with WinstonNet and the Forsyth County Public Library, has received a $73,000 United Way Place Matters grant. The partners will work to strengthen the basic computer skills and soft skills of un- or underemployed residents.

Forsyth Tech’s role is to offer a free class — “Tech Skills for Life and Employment” — to serve 100 students. Upon completion, students will have an opportunity to purchase a refurbished laptop computer at a low cost made possible by the grant funding.

This is the college’s fourth year receiving this grant, with WinstonNet as the lead organization.

United Way presents a check at Forsyth Technical Community College. (Photo: Forsyth Tech)


Owens Community College’s campaign for the Dana Advanced Manufacturing Training Center got another boost with a $100,000 gift from the Owens Alumni Association. The gift will result in naming rights within the center and will help to establish the Owens Alumni Association Advanced Manufacturing Scholarship.

The center is designed to provide highly technical and integrated training in a clean and safe environment conducive to learning. It’s expected to open in fall 2020.

Elsewhere in Ohio, Washington State Community College’s (WSCC) Education Talent Search (ETS) program budget increased thanks to a $40,000 federal grant.

ETS is a national, federal grant-funded program designed to identify and assist individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds who have the potential to succeed in higher education. The program provides academic, career and financial counseling to its participants and encourages them to graduate from high school and continue on to complete postsecondary education. The new grant funds are earmarked specifically for science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education.

“Our primary goal is to support students as they’re deciding the career they would like to pursue and then we help them develop a plan to attain the education they will need,” said Donna Muntz, director of college access and ETS at WSCC. “The grant funds will allow us to focus our attention on giving them experiences in STEM-focused activities as part of career exploration.”

Rhode Island

Community College of Rhode Island (CCRI) has received its first-ever Strengthening Institutions grant from the U.S. Education Department. The five-year, $1.7 million grant will support CCRI’s Promoting Pathways to Progress initiative to improve degree completion through full-scale implementation of the guided pathways model, the launch of a first-year student seminar and the integration of work-based learning across academic programs.

“This grant will provide the college much-needed resources to greatly enhance the ability of our students to persist and complete their programs of study,” said CCRI President Meghan Hughes.


Southwest Tennessee Community College will use a $2.1 million federal Strengthening Institutions grant to continue its work to close the equity gap through IDEAS — Inclusive Design for Equity in Academic Success.

Set to launch spring 2020, IDEAS will focus on enhancing teaching and learning by providing culturally responsive and supplemental instruction to students in core courses that are critical to completion. The focus will be on enhancing courses that have a 30 percent or higher failure rate. The goal is to foster student success and close achievement gaps through focused instruction, professional academic advising, peer mentoring/coaching, tutoring or supplemental instruction and high-impact practices infused throughout the curriculum. Each year, more than 75 percent of Southwest students enroll in these “gatekeeper” courses.

The grant also provides funds for faculty to receive equity and inclusion training.

About the Author

Tabitha Whissemore
is a contributor to Community College Daily and managing editor of AACC's Community College Journal.