ED grants aim to improve educational opportunities, outcomes

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Several community colleges are among the institutions getting federal grant funding to improve educational opportunities and outcomes for students from underrepresented communities.

U.S. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona on Friday announced 38 awards totaling more than $30 million to colleges and universities.

“We cannot be complacent with a higher education system that leaves so many college students from diverse and underserved backgrounds without the supports and resources they need to succeed in school and, ultimately, graduate,” Cardona said in a press release.

The funding “will help colleges and universities advance innovative and evidence-based strategies to better support their students and help address students’ basic needs, launch affordable open textbook programs, improve campus resources for veterans, and create opportunities for youth who’ve struggled with violence to get their lives back on track,” he added.

The grants are from five programs within the U.S. Education Department’s (ED’s) Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE). The programs each target critical needs in the higher education system.

Postsecondary Student Success Program

Announced in August 2022, Congress established the Postsecondary Student Success Program in response to the Biden administration’s request for funding to address college completion issues. The grants will help institutions invest in data-driven and evidence-based reforms and especially target students who are close to graduation and those who temporarily withdrew from school because of challenges during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Grants in this category range between $770,000 and $1 million. Community colleges grantees are:

Basic Needs for Postsecondary Students Program

As the name of the program suggests, grants through the Basic Needs program aim to address students’ basic needs, including food, housing, transportation and childcare.

Community colleges comprise the majority of grantees in this category, all receiving between $925,000 to $950,000. They are:

Centers of Excellence for Veteran Student Success Program

Grant recipients in this category will use funds to coordinate services to address their student veterans’ academic, financial, physical and social needs. The community colleges in this category will each receive about $600,000. They are:

Transitioning Gang-Involved Youth to Higher Education Program 

Grant projects under this program have the goal of re-directing gang-involved youth toward postsecondary education opportunities that will lead to certification or credentials.

Two colleges received funding to support this work: California’s Allan Hancock Joint Community College District will get $989,767 and Atlanta Technical College in Georgia will get $510,233.

The fifth FIPSE program, the Open Textbooks Pilot Program, funds projects to create open textbooks, particularly those that prioritize resources for courses with high enrollment and for high-demand career fields.

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