Reporter’s notebook

Photo: Matthew Dembicki

  • Second Chance Pell application deadline
  • Big textbooks savings through OER
  • An affordable opportunity for local arts

Second Chance Pell application deadline

The application deadline is approaching for postsecondary institutions that want to participate in the U.S. Education Department’s Second Chance Pell pilot program, which serves incarcerated individuals.

October 28 is the deadline for Title IV-eligible postsecondary institutions to apply to join the program, beginning with the 2022-2023 award year.

Big textbooks savings through OER

Since 2018, open educational resources (OER) have saved Raritan Valley Community College (RVCC) students nearly $1.8 million in textbook costs, according to the college.

Sixty faculty members at the New Jersey college are using free online resources in their courses instead of textbooks. And this past spring, math professor Lynne Kowski created OER for the college’s Statistics I course during a sabbatical leave. The materials will launch in next semester’s course, with most students expecting to save more than $100 per semester by using OER in the class.

“RVCC is moving closer to being able to offer degree pathways with minimal textbook costs,” Megan Dempsey, an instructional services librarian at the college, said in a press release. “For example, it’s possible for a student to take 48 credits in the liberal arts degree program without paying for a textbook. That’s 80% of the program.”

Dempsey, who has led the project, added that when students were surveyed about using OER, 60% of respondents said it improved their ability to complete their assignments, and 52% said using OER increased their satisfaction with the learning experience.

The initiative has received financial support from the RVCC Foundation.

An affordable opportunity for local arts

Prince George’s Community College is offering affordable options at its Center for Performing Arts to help artists and smaller arts and cultural organizations that can’t afford high rental costs associated with rehearsal space and performance productions at many local facilities.

The program is a partnership between the college’s foundation and the Prince George’s Arts and Humanities Council. It will provide vouchers for up to 50% of total costs toward rental services. The maximum award amount is $3,000 for eligible organizations.

“The Center for Performing Arts voucher program is a direct response to feedback we received from smaller arts organizations and independent artists in Prince George’s County,” said Andre Mazelin, senior manager for the Center for Performing Arts. “We wanted to address the fact that limited resources can be a barrier to the use of our facility.”

About the Author

Matthew Dembicki
is editor of Community College Daily and serves as publications director for the American Association of Community Colleges.