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Grant Offers Support for Community Colleges Serving Adult Learners

A new grant opportunity from Achieving the Dream and Lumina Foundation is targeting community colleges that are increasing the enrollment and success of adult learners (aged 25 and older), with a particular focus on Black, Latino and Native American students. The Prioritizing Adult Community College Enrollment (PACCE) initiative will assist 20 institutions in scaling their efforts, beginning in October 2021 and continuing through May 2023.

In a two-part Request for Proposal process, each selected college will receive technical assistance such as personalized feedback, open office hours, individualized coaching and a monthly curriculum centered around behavioral design and sustainability of enrollment efforts. The colleges will also be eligible to receive grants of up to $75,000 to support their adult student enrollment initiatives. In addition to its enrollment goals, the grant program also aims to identify best practices and develop resources to be shared with the field.

Key areas of consideration outlined by the RFP include:

  • Early evidence of strategies to increase enrollment of adult learners in high-quality credit and/or non-credit programs;
  • Approaches that address structural and process changes, organizational capacity, systems improvement, services improvement and enrollment efforts;
  • Ideas that have shown promise internally but are not yet fully scaled;
  • Knowledge of the needs of adults in the institution's community and responsiveness to addressing those needs; and
  • Opportunities where technical assistance, additional financial resources and peer learning would help scale efforts through the institution.

"As open access institutions, our community colleges are pivotal to helping increase the enrollment, re-enrollment and success of adult learners," said Monica Parrish Trent, vice president for network engagement at Achieving the Dream, in a statement. "The colleges who will be the recipients of this grant already show that they have a deep understanding of the needs of adult students and include racial equity as an explicit goal. This direct support will help them accelerate, scale and sustain their efforts."

"We are excited to provide this opportunity in support of helping more adults access higher education. We are looking for community colleges that have great ideas and want to go further, faster with help," added Shauna Davis, strategy director for community college participation at Lumina Foundation.

The PACCE initiative is open to public two-year institutions in Alabama, California, Colorado, Florida, Michigan, New York, North Carolina, Texas and Virginia, as well as all 35 Tribal Colleges and Universities. Institutions need not be affiliated the ATD Network to apply. Applications are due Sept. 17, 2021. For more information, visit the ATD site.

About the Author

Rhea Kelly is editor in chief for Campus Technology, THE Journal, and Spaces4Learning. She can be reached at [email protected].

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