Reporter’s notebook

  • Dual-enrollment bill reintroduced in Senate
  • Raising funds to expand Unmudl
  • NEH grants to expand humanities

Dual-enrollment bill reintroduced in Senate

A bipartisan team of senators last week reintroduced legislation to expand the use of federal grants available for higher education institutions to support dual or concurrent enrollment initiatives and early college high school programs.

The Making Education Affordable and Accessible Act (MEAA) — reintroduced by Sens. Gary Peters (D-Michigan), John Boozman (R-Arkansas), Tim Kaine (D-Virginia) and Mike Braun (R-Indiana) — would allow colleges and universities to tap the Higher Education Act Title VII Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE) to:

  • Carry out dual or concurrent enrollment programs as well as early college high school programming.
  • Provide educators in these programs with professional development.
  • Assist students in the program in covering education-related costs such as tuition and fees, books, and transportation.
  • Support activities such as course design, course approval processes, community outreach, student counseling and support services.

A press release from the lawmakers noted that MEAA has support from a broad group of education organizations and institutions, including community colleges.

“Dual credit programming gives students the chance to jumpstart their college experience,” Steve Robinson, president of Lansing Community College (Michigan), said in the release about the bill. “Opportunities like dual enrollment and early colleges allow students to earn college credit while still in high school, and save families thousands of dollars in tuition and fees. The Making Education Affordable and Accessible Act closes a gap for our most vulnerable students by relieving the financial burden that prevents some school districts from funding these opportunities. This thereby benefits not only those individual districts and students, but benefits the workforce and broader community by helping more students earn the certificates and degrees they need to contribute.”

Raising funds to expand Unmudl

Central New Mexico Community College (CNM) is joining other investors to raise more than $1 million in new funding for Unmudl, the Skills-to-Jobs Marketplace, a venture that allows learners to simultaneously enroll in online and in-person classes from multiple community colleges.

CNM is a founding college of Unmudl, where learners around the country can take coursework provided by a consortium of community colleges and employers. Unmudl facilitates access to workforce training as well as job-focused upskill and reskill courses across various professions and trades.

“CNM is thrilled to watch Unmudl meet a number of growth milestones and we’re now excited to watch as the organization continues to develop new and creative ways to serve the diverse needs of working learners,” said Tracy Hartzler, CNM president and chair of the Unmudl Steering Council.

The need for an upskilling-and-reskilling educational system is growing because traditional job progression and work-to-retirement pathways have changed or even disappeared, CNM said in a release. The college cited its accelerated technology boot camps as an example as well as new programs in other high-demand areas, such as mechatronics.

Unmudl also serves as a resource for employers who can search its database of learners with certifications and training that can quickly be matched to employer needs. More than 55 employers have hired employees out of courses on Unmudl to fill positions, the college said.

NEH grants to expand humanities

The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) on Tuesday announced $35.6 million in grants for 258 humanities projects across the country, including a handful of community colleges.

NEH noted that this funding cycle includes the first round of awards made under its new Spotlight on Humanities in Higher Education grant program, which supports humanities teaching and research projects that benefit underserved populations at small- to mid-sized colleges and universities. Among the colleges receiving a grant through the program is North Carolina’s Stanly Community College, which will receive $25,000 for a one-year project to convert humanities courses that currently depend upon a textbook to open educational resources.

In addition, Central Oregon Community College will use $60,000 for a two-year project to expand a humanities lecture series to include events on its campuses and to integrate speakers’ content into the curriculum. New York’s Queensborough Community College and the CUNY Research Foundation will use their $24,500 on a one-year project to expand a first-semester common read program to reach students in two pre-college programs.

About the Author

Matthew Dembicki
Matthew Dembicki edits Community College Daily and serves as associate vice president of communications for the American Association of Community Colleges.