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California CC Innovation Grants Tap Tech to Scale Student Success

Armed with innovation grants, Glendale Community College will be scaling up an automated system to help students with career guidance; Irvine Valley College will expand its pathways work with veterans; and College of the Redwoods will build up a program for incarcerated students. These three California institutions, as well as eight others, have been awarded grants ranging from $1 million to $3 million by the California Community Colleges Board of Governors to help them grow programs with a track record for boosting student success.

Areas of focus for the programs developed by this year's recipients included:

  • People under-represented in higher education, such as low-income or first-generation students, those from under-represented communities, and individuals who have been in the foster system or who have disabilities;
  • Current and former members of the Armed Forces;
  • Adults who are unemployed or underemployed; and
  • Incarcerated adults and former prisoners.

Glendale Community College will use part of its $1.9 million award to ramp up its use of computerized interest assessment and career guidance, tools that have already led to "dramatic gains in course completion, retention, degree/certificate completion, and GPA." That will be backed up with training for support staff providing career services and the creation of "development courses" for career exploration.

Irvine Valley College received $2 million to continue helping vets by providing a structured framework that addresses their initial college experiences. Strategies employed by the college include assignment of peer mentors; assessment of students' educational and career needs and creation of academic pathways; and automated "nudges" via e-mail, texts and on-screen alerts to help keep them on track. This integrated approach, the college noted, "has shown excellent results in student veteran GPA, persistence, and completion rate increases, all while decreasing unit accumulation."

The College of the Redwoods, which received $1.2 million, established a program at nearby Pelican Bay State Prison to deliver face-to-face college instruction and support services, such as academic and financial aid counseling. The college will use the new funding to expand the program from 149 students to 275 students, add a hands-on science lab and telepresence hybrid courses, and expand in-person help through student success classes and related services.

"The programs these colleges and districts have developed are truly making a difference for thousands of our students," said Chancellor Eloy Ortiz Oakley, in a prepared statement. "On behalf of the board and the entire system, I extend my congratulations on this well-deserved honor, and thank our colleges for the incredible work they're doing to help change our students' lives for the better."

Profiles for each program are available through the Innovation Awards website.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.

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