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24 Institutions Awarded $75 Million To Improve Enrollment & Completion Rates

Twenty-four colleges and universities have received grants totaling $75 million to support efforts to improve post-secondary access and completion.

The grants, awarded under the federal First in the World (FITW) grant program, are designed to support the development of new approaches to improve educational outcomes and the establishment of evidence to support effective practices. For this year's awards, emphasis was placed on programs looking to increase access to college, improve completion rates, facilitate transfers from community colleges, increase enrollment in STEM disciplines (science, technology, engineering and math) and decrease time to completion.

According to ED, the winning proposals included "an array of innovations, such as: developing new project-based majors that allow for self-pacing and acceleration; developing an online experience for adult students that incorporates virtual learning communities and wraparound coaching; expanding access to digital content for students with disabilities, and implementing a game-based tool that gives high school students an understanding of the college search and financing process for use in mentoring programs."

Individual four-year awards ranged from $1.6 million to $4 million. Recipients of this year's awards included:

  • Arizona State University, $4 million;
  • Bay Path University in Massachusetts, $3.5 million;
  • Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania, $1.7 million;
  • Central Georgia Technical College, $3.2 million;
  • The College of New Rochelle in New York, $4 million;
  • Delta State University in Mississippi, $1.7 million;
  • Gateway Technical and Community College in Kentucky, $3.3 million;
  • Georgia Tech, $3.8 million;
  • Hampton University in Virginia, $3.5 million;
  • Indiana State University, $1.6 million;
  • Jacksonville State University in Alabama, $3.2 million;
  • Kennesaw State University in Georgia, $3.2 million;
  • LaGuardia Community College in New York, $2.9 million;
  • Lee College District in Texas, $2.7 million;
  • Northeastern University in Massachusetts, $3.9 million;
  • Purdue University in Indiana, $2.4 million;
  • Research Foundation for SUNY/Oswego, $2.9 million;
  • South Dakota State University, $3.6 million;
  • Southern New Hampshire University, $3.9 million;
  • Texas A&M University, $3.3 million;
  • University of Minnesota, $2.8 million;
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, $3 million;
  • University of Southern California, $3.2 million; and
  • Western Michigan University, $3.2 million.

"The First in the World grant competition is a key part of President Obama's agenda to foster innovative ideas that help keep college affordable, increase quality and improve educational outcomes for our students," said United States Secretary of Education Arne Duncan in a prepared statement. "The Department is proud to support the wide range of innovation at colleges and universities across the nation that can dramatically enhance student outcomes."

ED is looking to increase funding for the program by 33 percent to $100 million for 2015. Additional details about the program can be found on the First in the World program portal at

About the Author

David Nagel is editorial director of 1105 Media's Education Technology Group and editor-in-chief of THE Journal and STEAM Universe. A 25-year publishing veteran, Nagel has led or contributed to dozens of technology, art and business publications.

He can be reached at [email protected]. You can also connect with him on LinkedIn at or follow him on Twitter at @THEJournalDave (K-12) or @CampusTechDave (higher education).

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